Lawmaker calls Marvin Nichols ‘one of the largest land grabs’ in Texas history

By Jess Hardin

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 18, 2023

In the fight against the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir, state Rep. Gary VanDeaver proposed an amendment Tuesday to require a feasibility study of the project by 2025.

VanDeaver, R-New Boston, proposed the study as an amendment to the Texas Water Development Board Sunset Bill, which expires every 12 years and establishes the terms of the agency’s continued operation.

The Marvin Nichols Reservoir project would flood 66,000 acres of bottomland hardwood forest in Cuthand, 30 miles southeast of Paris, to provide water to the growing Metroplex 150 miles away.

“This would make the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir one of the most expensive public works projects and one of the largest land grabs by eminent domain in Texas history,” said VanDeaver.

Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, spoke against the amendment, saying it should be a standalone bill or study.

“This is not the place for it,” said Canales.

The Texas House opted to table the amendment in favor of a clean bill.

Janice Bezanson of Preserve Northeast Texas, a group fighting the reservoir, said the group plans to testify about the issue before the Senate Committee on Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs when the bill does there.

This legislative development comes two months after Gov. Greg Abbott told CBS 19 in Tyler that all avenues should be examined to meet water demand.

“There are water needs, whether it be in the Dallas area or even in the Tyler area,” Abbott said. “But what we must do, we must explore other options before we start taking people’s lands or flooding property that’s been around for literally centuries.”

Jess Hardin covers growth and development. After graduating from Georgetown University, she completed a Fulbright grant in Georgia (the country) and did a brief stint of federal service in whistleblower protection. Jess comes to Fort Worth after helping launch digital news start-up Mahoning Matters in the wake of the closure of The Vindicator in Youngstown, Ohio. Send tips to or via Twitter to @jesslhardin.