Richard Bumgardner, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers chief of public affairs, opens a gate between North and South Holiday Park in Benbrook Lake on July 24, 2023. (Juan Salinas II | Fort Worth Report)

Two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials patrolled Benbrook Lake’s North and South Holiday parks on a July morning. 

As the officials drove up, two cyclists passed through a small gap beside the gate that separated the parks. 

A proposed policy change by the Corps could prevent cyclists from entering the camping section of the lake in southwest Tarrant County. After backlash from cyclist community leaders over the possibility of losing park access via this long-used bypass, Corps officials agreed to meet with them Aug. 18 to discuss alternatives. 

Staff limitations and increased park visitation are reasons for the planned closure to cyclists, said Richard Bumgardner, spokesperson for the Corps’ Fort Worth district. 

“We don’t have the staff to be managing the bypass road and all of the users on the bypass road,” Bumgardner said. 

According to the Corps, 41,384 cars entered South Holiday Park in 2019. The park has had 121,607 car entries so far in 2023 — a 194% increase in visitors over a four-year period. 

The number of rangers around the lake has not changed. Two full-time rangers and one part-time ranger maintain five parks around the lake. 

“Our manpower hasn’t increased at all,” Bumgardner said.

The local dispute has gotten the attention of the neighboring Fort Worth. 

In a statement, Mayor Mattie Parker told the Fort Worth Report the city’s parks and recreation staff are contacting cyclist community leaders and the Corps to mediate the discussions. 

Fort Worth wants to help find an alternative to closing South Holiday Park to cyclists, Parker said.

“Though this area is not owned or managed by the city of Fort Worth, the local recreation areas that our residents use are important to the quality of life for Fort Worth residents,” Parker said. 

A sign asking cyclists to obey all traffic signs in South Holiday Park on July 24, 2023 in Benbrook. (Juan Salinas II | Fort Worth Report)

How the dispute began

The tension between the groups dates back to a 2019 verbal agreement between a former park ranger and Craig Roshaven, a Fort Worth Bicycling Association member. 

Roshaven and a park ranger agreed to allow older people or anyone who couldn’t make it over Nice Hill, one of the steepest parts of South Holiday Road, to use the bypass, Roshaven said.

The park’s current guidelines are not in step with other federal parks rules and regulations, Bumgardner said. The policy would bring the rules in line with federal regulations.

“We made the determination that we can’t discriminate between disability and age. Our policies have to apply to everyone,” Bumgardner said. 

Cyclist behavior can be ‘helter-skelter’ 

Between May 1 and July 4, the Corps recorded 388 incidents of cyclists not following the rules of the road, Bumgardner said.

The Corps also has seen an increase in verbal altercations between cyclists and lake staff, volunteers and gate attendants.

Nathan Scaggs, a North Richland Hills resident, acknowledged some cyclists are not on their best behavior. 

Scaggs recalled a group of cyclists who would often come Tuesdays and Thursdays to North and South Holiday parks. Scaggs called them a good group of guys.

“But as soon as they get on the bike and start turning pedals, the mentality just turns to helter-skelter,” Scaggs said.

Roshaven doesn’t want the actions of a few bad actors to punish the whole cycling community. He thinks the Corps should be more aggressive when issuing citations to deter negative behavior. 

Doing that poses a challenge for the Corps.

“So if it’s a small group of bikers that have gone rogue, the challenge is how do we stop that one rogue biker?” Bumgardner said. 

Federal rules for parks, forests and other public property state, “no person shall operate any vehicle in a careless, negligent or reckless manner so as to endanger any person, property or environment feature.” The penalty is a fine of no more than $5,000, six months in prison or both. 

“They’re not a citation you can just kind of ignore. It’s not a parking ticket,” Roshaven said. 

The park rangers and volunteers don’t have the time or resources to focus on cyclists’ behavior, according to the Corps. 

Roshaven proposed that bigger and more signs with specific rules around the park would help cyclists. The signs around South Holiday Park are too vague and hard to read while cycling, Roshaven said.

“Folks just don’t know,” Roshaven said. 

The South Holiday Park has three signs stating that cyclists must stay on the main road in the campgrounds. 

One sign is posted behind the gate between North and South Holiday Park. A similar sign is posted near a checkpoint where gate attendants check visitors for a park pass. The last sign is down the park’s main road, and it asks cyclists to please obey all traffic signs and ride no more than two cyclists side by side through the South Holiday Park. 

The signs will be removed if the policy change goes into effect Oct. 1. 

As cyclists await a final decision, cycling veteran Scott Boldt is optimistic about the upcoming meeting between the Corps and cyclists. 

“I think this can be cleared up and we can still have a safe passage through the park,” Boldt said.

Juan Salinas II is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here. Read more about our editorial independence policy here

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Born and raised in the North Side of Fort Worth. Juan Salinas II is a reporting fellow. He is a Tarrant County College transfer student who is currently studying journalism at the University of Texas at...