Coastal Conservation Association Texas Partners with Ducks Unlimited

Coastal Conservation Association
Coastal Conservation Association Texas Partners with Ducks Unlimited
L-R; Robby Byers-CCA Texas, Sean Stone-DU Director of Development for Texas, John Blaha-CCA Texas and Todd Merendino-DU Manager of Conservation Programs.
CCA Texas Executive Board recently approved a $50,000 grant request by Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT) to help fund a Ducks Unlimited project doing restoration work at the J. D. Murphree Wildlife Management area in Jefferson County, Texas. This award comes in the form of conservation dollars raised by local Texas chapters and funds secured by HTFT from a private foundation in Austin, Texas and the DuPont Community Fund.

This project will use over $1 million in partner and grant funds to restore and enhance 3,000 acres of freshwater and coastal wetlands and associated transitional upland habitats in the J. D .Murphree WMA and surrounding area. Different phases of this project include the construction of a 2,500 linear foot rock breakwater at the J. D. Murphree WMA, as well as the restoration and enhancement of wetlands in the same area of the Upper Texas Coast.

"The marshes of the Texas Gulf Coast have experienced tremendous alterations and losses," Todd Merendino, DU manager of conservation programs, said. "The remaining wetland habitats supporting a rich diversity of wildlife and fish species, are vital to the sustainability of multiple wildlife populations and provide one of the most important wintering and migration areas in North America for waterfowl, shorebirds and other wetland-dependant migratory birds."

CCA Texas's contribution will be used primarily for the construction of the rock breakwater along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) at the J.D. Murphree WMA. Erosion along the GIWW has been the major cause of severe degradation and reduction of the marsh habitat in the area. In 1941 the GIWW was 125 feet in width, but due to the continuous erosion of the banks and marshes, the width of the GIWW today is almost 500 feet. The main contributors to this erosion are wave energy from boat traffic, prevailing winds and barge landings. The construction of this rock breakwater will greatly reduce if not eliminate any future erosion of the marsh.

These marshes of the Upper Texas Coast, including the ones listed in the project, are a vital nursery grounds for many fishery species important to commercial and recreational fisheries. Some of the species include brown and white shrimp, blue crab, gulf menhaden, Atlantic croaker, striped mullet, spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, and southern flounder. Along with the marine species that will benefit from the project, various waterfowl, birds, furbearers, alligators and other estuarine-dependent species will benefit as well.

"CCA Texas is excited about this partnership and looks forward to many more like it," said John Blaha, HTFT Director. "Habitat Restoration will be a key to ensuring the coastal habitats for future generations, and partnerships such as this one with Ducks Unlimited and other supporting organizations and entities will be vital in the success of this and future projects."