CCA Texas Reaches $1M in Commitments to Nearshore Reefing

John Blaha

CCA Texas Reaches $1M in Commitments to Nearshore Reefing Reefing materials being deployed at Port Mansfield site. (John Blaha photo)

CCA Texas is at the forefront in providing non-government funding to nearshore reefing in Texas and recently reached the $1,000,000 mark in funds committed to projects up and down the Texas coast. At the most recent Executive Board meeting, CCA Texas approved $100K funding to each of two new nearshore reef projects in Texas. These funds brought forth for approval by the Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT) initiative provides funds for the two new reefing sites and include the HI20 site out of Sabine Pass and the Big Man Reef located off Galveston Island. With the funding to these two reefing sites, CCA Texas has now committed funding to establish a reef out of every major port in Texas. These ports now include Sabine Pass, Galveston, Freeport, Matagorda, Port O'Connor, Port Aransas/Corpus Christi, Port Mansfield and South Padre Island.

CCA Texas gets involved in several different facets of the artificial reefing program. Not only does CCA Texas provide funding, but the organization also gets involved by helping identify reefing materials; identify and secure temporary storage areas; bring community groups together to help focus on reefing projects; provides outreach about the importance and benefits of artificial reefing; and provides funding that is used to secure permits for new sites. As the removal of oil and gas production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico increases, it is important for CCA Texas and other groups to work closely with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to place new habitat into the Gulf waters. This habitat is critical to the Gulf's marine fisheries and when placed in the nearshore waters of Texas it provides an easily accessible fishing destination for recreational fishermen up and down the coast.

Past and Current Reefing Projects

Vancouver Site (Freeport) CCA Texas provided $50K to the Vancouver site out of Freeport. Materials were secured as a donation from Oldcastle Precast in Brookshire, temporary storage was secured in Freeport from Dorsett Bros Concrete and CCA Texas coordinated the transportation of materials from Brookshire to Freeport. Leveraging CCA Texas supporters and funds donated, TPWD then executed the project that deployed over 100 culverts of different sizes and shapes along with 23 large granite blocks, originally secured by TPWD. This project was completed in August 2010.

TPWD has been able to secure full funding to completely finish reefing this site with funds secured from the NRDA Restore Act funds stemming from remediation in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon accident. The award for the final reefing has been issued and 800 additional reefing pyramids will be deployed in 2016.

Port Mansfield CCA Texas provided $50K funding to the Port Mansfield nearshore reefing site. The project reefed over 4,000 culverts of different sizes donated by Alamo Concrete Products in Harlingen. CCA Texas played an active role in the transportation of materials from Harlingen to temporary storage in Port Mansfield. The Port Mansfield site is one of the most actively fished nearshore sites in Texas and has proven to provide great fisheries habitat for local recreational fishermen to use. This project was completed in July 2011.

Matagorda The Matagorda reefing site is located between the Colorado and San Bernard River mouths in Texas state waters. CCA Texas's original commitment to the project was $100K. In addition, CCA National's Building Conservation Trust (BCT) had committed $100K. Since these commitments, TPWD has been able to secure full funding to completely reef this site, also with funds secured from the NRDA Restore Act, stemming from remediation following BP Deepwater Horizon. TPWD has issued the contract to reef this site and 1,600 fabricated concrete pyramids will be deployed in 2016. CCA Texas and BCT originally committed funds will be moved to other nearshore reefing projects.

Corpus Christi CCA Texas provided $100K in funding to the Corpus Christi site located offshore between Packery Channel and Port Aransas jetties. This project led by TPWD has multiple partners, including TPWD, CCA Texas and Saltwater-fisheries Enhancement Association. The original scope of this project included the deployment of 400 reefing pyramids in addition to many culverts and concrete materials that were deployed in the center of the reef. CCA's funding increased the number of reefing pyramids by 70 to a total of 470 pyramids. These additional pyramids reefed approximately 7 acres beyond the scope of the original plans. This project falls in line with the HTFT philosophy of allowing TPWD to increase their originally scoped work by an amount with the amount CCA contributions will allow, thus allowing for more reefed acres of sea bottom.

Port O'Connor CCA Texas approached TPWD with the desire to have a nearshore reef located out of Port O'Connor. CCA Texas has provided $100K for the permitting process and an additional $200,000 for actual reef construction. Construction is expected to begin during 2016.

Rio Grande Valley CCA Texas funded $100K to the RGV site and BCT has committed another $100K as well. This site is one that brought an entire community together and had the help of local recreational fishermen, TPWD game wardens, community leaders, CCA Texas, and the TPWD Artificial Reefing Program. The combined efforts developed a package to seek the largest permitted reefing site ever in Texas state waters. This site will sprawl across 1,650 acres and provide areas for low-relief structure as well as high-relief structure, creating habitat for all parts of the marine animal life cycle. The permit should be in hand during first quarter 2016 and reefing efforts will begin as soon as possible.

Galveston Island (Big Man) - One of the two recent sites to receiving funding, CCA Texas has committed $100K to this project. This 160 acre site has the permit and surface leases in place and reefing is expected in 2016. CCA Texas is working with local companies to secure reefing materials and temporary storage facilities until the materials are deployed.

Sabine (HI20) - One of two recent sites to receiving funding, CCA Texas has committed $100K to this project. This 160 acre site has the permit and surface leases in place and reefing is expected in 2016. CCA Texas is working with local companies to secure reefing materials and temporary storage facilities until the materials are deployed.

The Future

CCA Texas is committed to continuing its support of nearshore reefing through the HTFT initiative. HTFT will work along with BCT to continue to seek funds for new sites and possibly expand sites already in place. The continued commitment to nearshore reefing will not only give fisheries habitat a boost, it will continue to give recreational fishermen in Texas easily accessible fishing areas off of the Texas coast. Healthy and plentiful habitat is essential to a healthy Gulf of Mexico and CCA Texas is proud to be a part of the conservation effort.