CCA Texas – Habitat Project Review

John Blaha
CCA Texas – Habitat Project Review
Photo credit: Lisa Laskowski
It was a great year for CCA Texas and Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT). 2013 saw the total amount of funds committed and expensed to habitat restoration and creation grow to $3,329,600 for twenty-one projects since HTFT's inception in 2009. Several projects that have been in process were completed and new projects begun.

East Galveston Bay Oyster Restoration Project (TPWD) - $3,700,000

CCA Texas has partnered with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to secure $3,700,000 in funding to restore of 130-acres of oyster reef in East Galveston Bay. CCA Texas originally funded $500,000 for the project and then jointly secured an additional $3,200,000 with TPWD through the Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP). Currently CCA Texas is working with TPWD and volunteers in a pre-construction study that will create a fishing success baseline in the areas to be restored. Once restoration is completed the study will continue and judge the fishing success post-construction. Construction is expected to begin and be completed in the spring of 2014.

Restoration of Cedar Bayou and Vinson Slough (Aransas County) - $1,420,000

CCA Texas has been active in the efforts to restore Cedar Bayou and Vinson Slough for many years, giving up to $25,000 in the past for early stage feasibility, engineering and environmental studies. In February of 2012, CCA Texas' State Board approved $500,000 in funding to assist Aransas County. An additional $20,000 was committed to the project through the efforts of the Babes on the Bay fishing tournament, sponsored by the Aransas Bay Chapter, located in Rockport and CCA National's Building Conservation Fund has committed $100,000 to the project as well. At the recent CCA Texas Executive Board meeting held in November, CCA Texas approved another $800,000 commitment for funds to the project as needed. Bid packages are out and Aransas County will open all sealed bids on December 17, 2013. Construction is expected to begin in April 15, 2014 and be completed by October 15, 2014, pending the acceptance of one of the submitted bids.

Matagorda Nearshore Artificial Reef (TPWD) - $200,000
In June of 2009, CCA Texas approved an initial funding of $35,000 for the new 160-acre nearshore reefing site located between Sargent and Matagorda. After some delays, the project was finally fully permitted in December of 2010. Since the original $35,000 funding approval, CCA National's Building Conservation Fund has contributed an additional $150,000 to the project and also secured $15,000 from the Shimano Corporation making the total commitment $200,000. The goal of TPWD is to completely reef this project at one time and TPWD is currently waiting on funding status from the Deepwater Horizon settlement dollars.

Oyster Lake Shoreline Stabilization Project and Marsh Restoration Project / West Galveston Bay (Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF) - $200,000
This project was approved in August of 2012 and is a partnership with the Galveston Bay Foundation. The project will eventually create 5,200 linear feet for shoreline protection for Oyster Lake, a valuable estuary adjacent to West Galveston Bay. Phase one of the project has been completed and 1,000 feet of breakwater has be placed in the most severely eroded areas. This initial 1,000 feet of break water is made up of 500 linear feet of reef balls on the West Galveston Bay side and 500 feet on the Oyster Lake side.

Corpus Christi Nearshore Artificial Reef (TPWD) - $100,000

In November of 2011, CCA Texas approved $100,000 in funding to the Corpus Christi Nearshore reefing project. This reefing site is a 160-acre site located in Texas state waters between Packery Channel and Port Aransas. This project was completed in October 2013 with the placement of 470 pre-fabricated reef pyramids, and an additional 100 plus large concrete culverts secured by SEA. This deployment has resulted in approximately 50 acres of the 160 acres total reefed.

Copano Bay Oyster Reef Restoration at Lap Reef (HRI)- $75,000
CCA Texas partnered with Harte Research Institute (HRI) to create a 1.5 acre oyster reef complex on Lap Reef, in Copano Bay, to enhance fish habitat. This project is part of a large mapping effort to identify and prioritize locations for oyster reef restoration based on long-term water quality and oyster health and expanded an existing 3.8 acre project, resulting in 5.3 acres total. Recycled materials were used as base material for the site and it was then be topped with reclaimed oyster shells through a program initiated by Dr. Jennifer Pollack at Texas A&M Corpus Christi and HRI. This project was completed in October 2013.

Nueces Bay Delta Water Management System - $70,000
CCA Texas has partnered with the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program (CBBEP) to install a water management system that will ensure water pumped into the delta stays in the delta and does not backflow into the Nueces River, thus bypassing this critical habitat. This project will install a water control gate type system in Rincon Bayou to keep water in the delta. CCA Texas approved $70,000 funding to be used for matching funds in November of 2011. The project is ready for construction, has received all approvals and is anticipated to be out for bid by the end of 2013. The scheduled completion date is the 1st quarter of 2014.

Bird Island Cove Marsh Restoration / West Galveston Bay (TPWD) - $50,000
CCA Texas funded $50,000 to this project in May 2011. This project will restore 52-acres within an existing 115-acre marsh site. CCA Texas dollars have been used as matching funds by TPWD to secure dollars from USFW Coastal Wetland Grants Program. All funds have been received, final engineering completed and bids are set to be awarded in late November or early December 2013. The estimated completion is first quarter of 2014.

J. D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area Shoreline Stabilization (Texas Ducks Unlimited) - $50,000
This project was originally funded in August of 2010 in the amount of $50,000. This project is a partnership with Texas Ducks Unlimited to construct approximately 2,500 linear feet of breakwater along sensitive salt and fresh water marsh along the Gulf Coast Intra Coastal Waterway within the J. D. Murphree Wildlife Management area. Texas DU used the CCA commitment as leverage dollars to secure further funds from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) that are being matched with Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) dollars. The bids for the project have been awarded and construction is expected to begin in December 2014.

Dickinson Bayou Marsh Restoration Project (TPWD) - $75,000

CCA Texas funded $25,000 to this project in May 2011 and another $50,000 in February 2013 for further matching funds. This project will provide protection for over 30 acres of marsh and restore an additional 10 acres. Bottom topography will also be restored to original flows to allow proper water flows through this portion of the bayou and provide increased estuary health to this portion of the Galveston Bay System.

Engineering is completed and bids are expected out in early 2014 and construction completed.

Aransas Bay Oyster Reef Restoration at Goose Island (HRI)- $75,000

The project was approved in February 2013 and its objective is to create a 1.5 acre oyster reef complex in Aransas Bay, Texas, to enhance water filtration capacity and recreational fishing. This project will expand an existing 6.5 acre restoration project funded by the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, Fish America Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and NOAA to a total of 8 acres of reef complex. In addition, we are working with the Texas Department of Transportation to restore an additional 1-2 acres at this location within the next two years to mitigate for oyster reef losses related to construction of the new Copano Causeway. Construction was completed in September 2013.

Establishment of Port O'Connor Nearshore Reefing Site (TPWD) - $100,000
At the August 2013 Executive Board meeting, $100,000 was approved to fund the efforts of TPWD to create a new 160 acre nearshore reefing site out of Port O'Connor. CCA funds will pay for this permitting process and give naming rights of the site to CCA Texas. The permitting process will be completed during 2014. Once the permit is received, materials and onsite storage will be sought by CCA Texas and TPWD.

The Future of Texas Coastal Habitat
CCA Texas is committed to continuing the restoration and creation of critical habitat along the entire Texas coast including inland and nearshore waters. This habitat is essential to the health of the marine ecosystems that we all enjoy as recreational fishermen and conservationists of our coastal resources.