The lunch crowd at Dawn’s is laughing because, for all the ongoing battles between the lake people and the city of Marshall over water rights to Caddo and the fulminations from the black helicopter crowd, the war on Caddo Lake is over.Battles are still being fought and skirmishes are forever, but when all is said and done, the good ol’ boys and good ol’ girls who live and work on the lake won, and they know it.
One in the crowd claims he’s been seeing blue UN flags popping up all over the lake, hearing folks speaking Esperanto and Ebonics, and observing some lake people engaging in secret handshakes—all sure signs the United Nations has taken over Caddo Lake.
“That’ll give the general heart palpitations,” one big bubba cackles.
The “general” is retired General Vernon Lewis, the lake resident who co-sponsored a resolution along with Ed Smith, the mayor of nearby Marshall, in the 2004 Texas Republican Party platform condemning the Caddo Lake Institute and, through the institute, its president Dwight Shellman and its cofounder and chief financier Don Henley for aligning with the United Nations.
The official told him they had a name for people who get their dander up about the United Nations’ support of the Ramsar Convention and are forever paranoid about the world body’s imminent invasion: “the black helicopter crowd.” The State Department official allowed that the case of the retired general and Mayor Smith successfully lobbying to get it written into the Texas Republican Party platform was a little more extreme than usual.
Obviously, the State Department official doesn’t know Texas.
Caddo is one of 19 wetland sites in the United States and the only one in Texas to get the designation.
The problem with the Republicans’ proclamation is that Ramsar is not a United Nations convention, nor does the “important wetland” designation have squat to do with landowners’ sovereignty rights.
There it is, Article 10 under Environment, Property Ownership, and Natural Resources: “We oppose conservation easements on our natural resources administered by organizations unaccountable to taxpayers and voters.
For example, the efforts of the Caddo Lake Institute to act as a surrogate for the UN in gaining control of water rights of Caddo Lake.” The dig was directed at the institute for its role in having Caddo Lake recognized as a wetland of international importance by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands ( in 1993.
(At least the Caddo Lake Institute was in good company.
The Texas Republican party platform also opposed affirmative action, statehood for the District of Columbia, the Kyoto Protocol, the Biodiversity Treaty, and buying land for endangered species, while supporting the “rule of capture” of groundwater and abolishment of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.) On March 24, 2004, several months prior to the platform adoption, Lewis and Smith spoke at an emergency townhall meeting of the Tarrant County Republican Assembly in Fort Worth on “Seven Flags Over Texas (The UN Is the Seventh Flag).” The announcement for the emergency meeting asks, “Why Is the UN in Texas? Come Here [sic] about the California-ization of Texas and About the Republicans That Are Helping the Wrong Side.” Robby Speight, a burly character sitting at the lunch table at Dawn’s who is president of the Greater Caddo Lake Association, recalls meeting a State Department official at a national lake conference a year ago.