Board Insights: Trip Ruckman of Karnes County

The River Authority
Sep 30, 2022

Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes

This series provides readers the opportunity to learn about the unique insight and experiences of the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) Board of Directors and their personal connection to the San Antonio River in hopes of inspiring stewardship of area creeks and rivers.

H.B. Trip Ruckman Portrait

H.B. “Trip” Ruckman III - Karnes County

H.B. “Trip” Ruckman III graduated from Karnes City High School and, in 1967, received a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas. In 1984 he graduated from the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University. In 1974, Ruckman joined the Karnes County National Bank, where he specialized in lending, and became president in 1985. In 1995, he became chairman of the bank’s board. He has served on the River Authority Board since 1987 and proudly represents Karnes County and the southern basin community.

What value does the River Authority provide to the community?

The River Authority is one of the most effective government entities that I have been a part of. We are dedicated to our mission of safe, clean, and enjoyable creeks and rivers. One of the greatest values that the River Authority provides is flood prevention and mitigation. We constructed two 24-foot diameter tunnels under the city of San Antonio. No one sees them, but they work! These tunnels provide a huge amount of flood prevention to the city and serve as a model for the River Authority’s dedication to providing similar flood protection in Karnes County through our 13 dams.

1997 San Antonio River Flood Tunnel
The San Antonio River Tunnel under construction

The San Antonio River Tunnel was completed in December 1997.

How can we ensure the San Antonio River is preserved for future generations?

A big part of preserving the river is effectively serving the community. The River Authority has participated in Karnes County’s Lonesome Dove Festival since before the event facility had air conditioning. On the day of the showcase, the Education and Engagement Team sets up a station for high school students to learn about the biotic indicators used to measure the health of the San Antonio River. This station teaches Karnes County students to think critically and use their observation skills to determine the water quality in the San Antonio River. Many are surprised to find out that the water in our river is quite clean! It is also a fun way for the community to interact with the River Authority and learn more about our beautiful natural resources. It’s a great event, even though one of the crawdads pinched me this year.

Board member Trip Ruckman and Janine Garcia observe arthropods in the soil.


Board Member Ruckman holds crawfish.

Trip Ruckman and Education and Engagement Coordinator Janine Garcia at the Lonesome Dove Festival in September 2022.

Name an interesting fact about the San Antonio River Basin that most people might not know.

Few know this, but Cibolo Creek was the site of a Spanish fort named El Fuerte de Santa Cruz del Cíbolo. It was built to protect the Spanish ranchos between Béxar and La Bahía, following the San Antonio River. There is a muster list documenting the names of the soldiers stationed at El Cíbolo during this period kept in the University of Texas Archives. On July 4, 1776, the soldiers stationed at El Cíbolo helped Spanish forces by moving supplies to the Gulf Coast, where the Spanish defeated the British during the American Revolution. So, a little fort on a tributary of the San Antonio River contributed to the winning of American independence!

What is the best way to interact with the San Antonio River?

The River Authority aims to not only clean the San Antonio River but provide enjoyable recreation opportunities along the river basin. One of the most recent recreational developments includes the Escondido Creek Parkway. Back in 1954, Congress approved the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Escondido Creek Channelization Project to enhance flood mitigation, and the River Authority was the local sponsor. More recently, the River Authority has turned this channelized creek into a world-class linear park filled with amenities for the community to enjoy while maintaining the flood mitigation benefits of the earlier channelization project. We recently celebrated the parkway’s second anniversary, activating our skate park and enjoying the splash pad. Parks like Escondido Creek Parkway bring the river into the community and promote a good relationship with our natural resources.

Families walk along a trail at Escondido Creek Parkway

Escondido Creek Parkway in Kenedy, TX, is the home of native plants and landscapes that support the native Texas horned lizard.

The River Reach is back!

River Reach is a quarterly, 12-page newsletter that is designed to inform the San Antonio River Authority’s constituents about the agency’s many projects, serve as a communication vehicle for the board of directors and foster a sense of unity and identity among the residents of Bexar, Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad counties.

If you wish to be placed on the mailing list for River Reach, please contact us or complete the form.