CCA Texas’s habitat program, Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT), and Building Conservation Trust (BCT) recently met to layout the 2018 habitat work plan for 2018.The committee reviewed numerous projects and ultimately approved $895,000 in funding for nine projects that will create over $3.6 million in habitat work covering the Texas coast from Sabine to the Rio Grande Valley.Partnerships always play a vital role in habitat creation and restoration.CCA Texas and BCT are proud to continue working with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program (CBBEP), Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF), Friends of Rio Grande Valley Reef (FRGVR), and Harte Research Institute (HRI).
$10,000 – Vancouver TPWD Nearshore Reefing Site (TPWD)
Atlantis Marine Habitats has donated 40-plus reefing pyramids to be placed within TPWD’s Nearshore Reefing Program’s Vancouver site, located just off the Freeport jetties.These pyramids will be reefed within the site and coordinates designated by TPWD.The Vancouver site was one of CCA Texas’s first deployment sites for artificial reefing.Materials within this site include an old ship, concrete culverts and rip rap, large granite blocks and 800 concrete pyramids.CCA Texas and BCT will contract directly with Lil Mo Marine Services to deploy these reefing pyramids, and expect to have this project completed in March 2018.
$25,000 – Dickinson Bayou Marsh Grass Planting (TPWD)
CCA Texas and BCT continue to be committed to projects that have been supported in the past.This support continues when project needs arise that need to be addressed in order to preserve the efforts initially set forth.TPWD’s Dickinson Bayou Marsh Restoration effort is one such project.The original project restored 10 acres of marsh and protected an additional 17 acres of existing marsh.Successful marsh grass plantings took place and the restored habitat was thriving.This effort will replant marsh grasses that were damaged by the historical flooding of 2017 and is expected to take place in the first half of 2018.
$40,000 – Trinity Bay Discovery Center Living Shoreline (GBF)
This Galveston Bay Foundation led project provides multiple purposes that restore and protect the area marsh and provides education opportunities to the local community.This project will create 1,200 linear feet of shoreline breakwater and provide the opportunity to restore up to two acres of estuarine intertidal marsh.As part of the Trinity Bay Discovery Center, the project will provide educational opportunities to area teachers, students and the community.It is projected that 800 students, 80 teachers and 65 family members will visit this site in 2018.To date, 630 students and 65 teachers have already registered to visit the site.Other funding partners in this project include US Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS), and the Galveston Bay Estuary Program (GBEP).
$60,000 – Nueces Bay Demonstration/Restoration Oyster Reef Project (CBBEP)
Partnering with Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, a small two to three acre oyster reef project will be created for research, demonstration and community outreach.This effort will serve as a baseline indicator of the ability to construct and enhance existing oyster reefs within the Nueces Bay system.In addition, it will provide community outreach through education by getting local students involved in oyster bagging events and placement of the shell.This project is expected to be completed in 2018 and monitoring of the site will continue into the next two to three years.
$60,000 - Baffin Bay’s Unique Serpulid Reef Habitat: Science to Advance Understanding and Conservation (HRI)
During recent studies in Baffin Bay, the serpulid reef habitat began to garner the interest of Harte Research Institute (HRI) scientists and researchers.This funding will support the following:
- Assessment of invertebrate reef communities including density, diversity, and biomass at several reef sites over time,
- Linking changes in reef communities to seasonal and/or water quality changes,
- Conducting dietary analyses of fisheries species to assess the importance of reef communities as prey resources.
The health of the Baffin Bay system may depend heavily on the success of its rare serpulid reefs. An understanding of the ecological role of serpulid reef communities, in particular as a prey resource, will improve fishery resource management and improve our ability to conserve these rare, naturally occurring, hard-substrate habitats.
$100,000 Sabine Lake Restored Oyster Reef Expansion (TPWD)
TPWD has taken broad steps in the last several years in oyster reef creation and restoration, and management of this critically important habitat.This project will create additional oyster habitat in the southwest corner of the remaining 27 acres in the lease area of Sabine Reef.This funding will provide 833 to 1,666 cubic yards of reef to be laid in Sabine Lake.Early deployments of material in this area have shown good success in oyster reef growth and other ecological services. This area has not been commercially harvested in 40 years, however Louisiana is considering commercial harvest in this area once again, and this step is a proactive step in offsetting any potential habitat loss on the Louisiana side of the border if it does come into play.
$150,000 Rio Grande Valley Reef Material Deployment (FRGVR)
Friends of Rio Grande Valley Reef continue to lead the way in supporting and reefing the Rio Grande Valley Nearshore Reef site.CCA Texas and BCT have been partners in this project since day one and, to date, have contributed $255,000 to the effort.This additional contribution of $150,000 will help FRGVR continue to deploy low and high relief materials to the site.Plans are currently in progress to deploy more low relief concrete rubble and 7,000 tons of concrete railroad ties, that will provide high relief complex reef area that will attract many species of fish.Reefing is expected to begin in the spring of 2018.The Rio Grande Valley reef continues to show the results of grassroots efforts of driven volunteers.
$200,000 Sabine Pass HI20 Nearshore Reefing Project (TPWD)
CCA Texas and BCT will work with TPWD and local volunteer groups to reef the newly permitted HI20 nearshore reefing site.The first phase of reefing will include 200 granite blocks, which will be reefed in the northwest quadrant of the site and the barge will be deployed in the center of the 160 acre site.An ongoing effort is in place to garner support of local industry to put the funds in place to continue reefing this nearshore site as materials become available.
$250,000 Big Man Nearshore Reefing Site (TPWD)
With this $250,000 commitment to the Big Man Nearshore site, CCA Texas and BCT have now committed and funded over $1.5 million to nearshore reefing along the Texas coast.In addition, another $250,000 has been contributed to the research of these reefs to determine the best configurations and the ecological and economic value of these sites.
The Big Man Reef is a new 160 acre site off of the Galveston coast line.This site along with its sister site, Kate’s Reef, will provide easy access for Galveston area anglers to nearshore species and angling opportunities.Kate’s Reef is expected to be permitted by the year’s end and reefing will then begin in that site.
The first phase of reefing in this site will be concrete railroad ties which will provide complex low and mid-relief habitat.Reefing is expected to take place in 2018.
---------------------------CCA Texas and BCT are excited to continue their Natural Partnership and work with partners along the entire Texas coast to restore and create vital habitat.For funding opportunities and project questions, we encourage you to contact Sean Stone, Building Conservation Trust Executive Director, or John Blaha, CCA Texas Habitat Director, at (713) 626-4222 with any questions you might have.