CCA Texas Habitat Efforts Continue to Move Forward

John Blaha
CCA Texas Habitat Efforts Continue to Move Forward
A segmented reef design is planned for Ayers Point reef restoration. This design will be very similar to the restoration effort in St. Charles Bay.

It’s hard to believe, but when this issue hits the newsstands we will be five months through 2024. CCA Texas is once again off to a strong start due to the great efforts of the local chapter volunteers, sponsors and supporters. The CCA Texas staff looks forward to hosting the local chapter volunteers in Rockport for the annual Inter-Chapter Challenge. CCA Texas and partners continue to move forward with habitat restoration and creation efforts along the Texas coast. CCA Texas has now funded more than $10.3 million in habitat efforts and has committed another $5.0 million to oyster reef restoration and creation efforts in the near future.

Oyster Habitat Restoration

CCA Texas, partners and others are working to identify areas for restoration and creation up and down the Texas coast. Two that are currently being considered are the Mesquite Bay complex and Carancahua Bay. Working closely with Flats Worthy, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program (CBBEP), Harte Research Institute (HRI), University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) and others, areas are being identified and prioritized for restoration in the Mesquite Bay Complex. The number one priority at this time is the northeastern end of Ayers Reef. Although currently in design, this effort will be similar in construction to the St. Charles Bay Big Tree Unit restoration project, featuring a segmented reefing complex that allows for waterflow through the reefs and protection of the existing shorelines. The early phases of engineering will identify any necessary design changes and estimated costs. This area was chosen as a critical area to protect an eroding shoreline that would eventually create a large breach between Matagorda Island and Ayers Reef if not protected.

Matagorda Bay Foundation, local community residents and other organizations are looking at areas of restoration in Carancahua Bay. This bay was closed to all oyster harvest in 2017 after an intense commercial harvest in the years prior. Matagorda Bay Foundation has contracted with an engineering firm for the early stages of surveying to identify suitable areas for restoration and creation efforts. The long-term goal is to permit an area and beginning the restoration process with a heavy community involvement, much like the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Nearshore Reefing Program. Surveys should begin as this issue is released and CCA Texas looks forward to being a part of this future restoration effort.

Nearshore Reefing

CCA Texas has thus far contributed over $3.6 million in nearshore reefing efforts from Sabine Pass to South Padre Island. The Friends of RGV Reef continue to create nearshore reefing habitat on a scale never before seen on our coast. Currently there are over 14,000 tons of reefing materials and two vessels already cleaned and prepared waiting on the permit renewal from US Army Corps of Engineers for deployment. This permit is expected in mid-May 2024, so it is with great hope that deployments will begin once again during summer 2024. The grassroots efforts by Friends of RGV Reef are some that are incredibly successful and set the basis for other like efforts. Friends of RGV Reef are to be commended and the recreational fishing community of South Texas and others that visit areas thank you.

Sabine Pass Nearshore reefs are moving into the next phase of habitat creation. The ne HI-54 Shallow Reef permit is now in place. Efforts are ongoing to secure materials of opportunity for reefing and talks are underway with contractors for pricing and possible timetables. This new site is unique in its location just off the beach of Sea Rim State Park. Located just 1.9 miles off the beach, this site will give recreational anglers easy access, including kayakers launching from the beachfront. Friends of Sabine Reefs have done a fantastic job of securing the help of local industry partners. These partners include Cheniere, Port Arthur LNG (Sempra), Motiva, Golden Pass LNG, Valero, and Dow Chemical Sabine Ops. These partners have supported the efforts of Friends of Sabine Reefs from day one. This type of support is the necessary element to make these types of efforts possible.

CCA Texas looks forward to seeing the many habitat restoration and creation projects continue to move forward and looks forward to being a part of them all.

Advocacy

CCA Texas’ Advocacy Team remains busy monitoring numerous water and USACE permits. Additionally, the team remains focused on fisheries management and oyster management issues. Be sure to follow the CCA Currents publication for updates and any advocacy related emails you may receive.

For more information about CCA Texas and other relevant issues, please visit www.ccatexas.org.

 
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