Board Insights: Trip Ruckman of Karnes County

The River Authority
Sep 29, 2023

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 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 motivated you to serve on the River Authority board?

I was encouraged to run by my father, who was appointed to the River Authority Board before my time. My father encouraged me to run for the position on the board to continue representing Karnes County and take his place. Growing up, my family used to go camping on the banks of the San Antonio River consistently, and one of my fondest memories includes swinging on the grapevines that my grandpa used to cut for us. My grandparents also lived in San Antonio growing up, and I always enjoyed being able to walk and dine on the riverwalk. Growing up connected to the river, down and upstream, inspires and motivates me to serve my county and ensure people can continue to make memories like mine.

Growing up connected to the river, down and upstream, inspires and motivates me to serve my county and ensure people can continue to make memories like mine.

Three people sit next to each other at a table.

Trip Ruckman and Education and Engagement Coordinators Janine Garcia and Emily Rew at the Lonesome Dove Festival Youth Day in September 2023.

What River Authority program in Karnes County do you want to highlight for readers?

I want to highlight the importance of the 13 flood control dams as these dams mitigate flooding in Karnes County. Since the early 1950s, the River Authority has partnered with officials in Bexar and Karnes counties, special districts, and federal entities to develop these dams. Most were finished in the 1960s and 1970s. Many of these dams sit on properties that serve as recreation sites and water resources for wildlife and cattle. Currently, the River Authority, the United States Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), Escondido Watershed District, the City of Kenedy, and Karnes County Soil and Water Conservation District are working together as they begin the planning process to develop a Supplemental Watershed Plan and Environmental Assessment (EA) for Floodwater Retarding Dams 1, 4, and 12 in Karnes County.

Dams Reference Karnes County

What San Antonio River Basin Report Card metric do you find most interesting?

The cleanliness of the San Antonio River is the metric I found the most interesting; I hope I can swim the length of the river one day. It has been nice to see that in Karnes County, the water quality has improved immensely through various efforts by the River Authority. The River Authority and its partners utilize a watershed management approach to identify and evaluate water quality, establish priorities for corrective action, and work with the state agencies to implement those actions throughout the San Antonio River Basin.

San Antonio River at Karnes County

The San Antonio River in Karnes County

How does the River Authority show commitment to the community’s safety?

I want to highlight the recent floodplain map meetings held in Bexar County and the coordination meetings the River Authority has had with our downstream county floodplain map administrators. Additionally, one of the most critical River Authority initiatives catered to community safety is the Don’t Let Litter Trash Your River campaign and the TV commercial ads broadcast to spread this message. The River Authority provides excellent resources to learn about clean-up opportunities and information regarding flood risk mitigation.

H.B. "Trip" Ruckman painting a rock