CCA Habitat and Other Happenings

John Blaha
CCA Habitat and Other Happenings

Sonar screen capture of high-relief concrete railroad tie mound within the RGV reefing site.

As we move into the fourth quarter of 2018, CCA Texas has had an extremely successful year on many fronts.  This success is due to the tremendous efforts of volunteers, sponsors, supporters, and the CCA Texas staff.  When this issue hits the reader’s hands, CCA Texas will only have four banquets left for the year.  Nearing the close of the third quarter, banquet attendance and monies raised are pushing all-time highs and the energy within the organization has never been higher. This energy and success is due to the will and desire of so many to ensure the Texas Coastal resources are strong and healthy for present and future generations. 

Along with the success in fundraising and membership, comes success in CCA Texas’s habitat program, Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT), and CCA National’s habitat program, Building Conservation Trust (BCT).  These two entities work hand in hand to help restore and create coastal habitat up and down the Texas coast.  After funding $530,000 to habitat work in 2017, CCA Texas and BCT have funded $986,000 for habitat work in 2018 and are poised to cross the $1 million dollar mark by the end of the year. This work has included nearshore reefing, marsh restoration, oyster restoration, and critical habitat science studies and evaluations.

Nearshore Reefing – CCA Texas has now funded more than $1.6 million to nearshore reefing along the Texas coast.  This funding and work stretch from the Texas/Louisiana border at Sabine Pass to the Texas/Mexico border at South Padre Island.  Work continues all along the Texas coast and current efforts are focused at Sabine Pass (HI20 Reef), Galveston (Big Man Reef), and South Padre Island (RGV Reef). 

The Sabine HI20 Reef should have its first materials in the water by the end of September.   CCA Texas and BCT are contracting directly with Eldridge Construction to deploy 200 granite blocks and a 120-foot barge. The next article in this magazine will have plenty of photographs and details about the deployment and what is in the future for the Sabine HI20 site.   Much like the Friends of RGV Reef (FRGVR), a new organization, Friends of Sabine Reef (FSR), has formed and they are working diligently to help identify materials and funds to continue reefing the HI20 site and with hopes of expanding it in the future.  

Work continues to move along in the RGV Reef.  CCA Texas and BCT initially funded an additional $150,000 this past February for deploying concrete railroad ties and other materials to the site.  Another $56,000 was then approved to expand and fill the 186 acre nursery portion of the site with concrete cinder blocks.  This method has proven to be very successful in providing habitat and cover for small snapper and other species until they reach a suitable size and move onto the large reef habitat.  Spearheaded by FRGVR, contractors are continuing to mound concrete railroad ties within the sight and have created additional low relief habitat. 

To date, the mounding effort has created at 30’ tall mound that measures 140’ in width.  CCA Texas and BCT have contributed $461,000 to the RGV Reef, a one of a kind reefing site that would not be possible without the strong grass roots efforts of local recreational fishermen.   

Galveston’s Big Man Reef and Kate’s Reef are hoping to see materials deployed by the end of the year.  Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) Departments Artificial Reef Program has placed request for bids to deploy materials to the Big Man site.  These materials will include railroad ties and pyramids.  TPWD is also waiting for final notice from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on permit requests for the Kate’s Reef site.  Progress is moving forward up and down the entire Texas coast, and CCA Texas and BCT are proud to be a part of these nearshore reefing efforts.

Marsh Restoration and Shoreline Protection – Several projects are in progress or have just been recently been completed for marsh restoration and shoreline protection. CCA Texas partnered with the Galveston Bay Foundation for restoration efforts in Moses Lake, Trinity Bay and Oyster Lake adjacent to West Galveston Bay.

The Moses Lake project was just recently completed and the effort created approximately 1.3 miles of shoreline protection in that body of water.  This protection in turn created 10 acres of available space for marsh restoration efforts through grass plantings carried out by volunteer groups within the community.  

The Oyster Lake Shoreline protection project extended previous work in the Oyster Lake / West Galveston Bay shoreline. This project will help prevent breaching of critical estuarine habitat in the Oyster Lake area. The Trinity Bay marsh restoration project at GBF’s Discovery Center will help restore and create two additional acres of estuarine marsh habitat.  The Discovery Center provides outreach opportunities for the general public through local and Houston area school programs. This restored marsh area will provide significant education opportunities in GBF’s community outreach efforts.

CCA Texas and BCT look forward to continuing our support to current partners and look forward to forging new partnerships in the future. Habitat restoration and creation are critical to the future of our coastal fisheries. For more information about CCA Texas and BCT’s habitat work, please contact John Blaha at [email protected].