Dear concerned fishermen, we need your help!

Mike McBride & Everett Johnson

The Port Mansfield Channel, or as it is also known, the East Cut from the Laguna Madre to the Gulf of Mexico, is silting in rapidly. Access for larger boats is almost gone and critical water exchange has been seriously reduced. Although this channel was constructed as part of a federal project with a depth of fourteen feet, it has been abandoned due to lack of commercial tonnage and is now seven years behind the dredging schedule. The remaining part of the channel that is more than a few feet deep is very narrow and the mouth is heavily shoaled. It may not be long before it closes completely. No one knows the full environmental impact that allowing this channel to close might bring, but it can't be good. Your help is needed to restore the dredging program.

The Laguna is classified as hyper-saline, meaning saltier than the ocean. It is one of only seven in the world and the only one in North America. It relies on good water circulation to maintain its balance and its sea grass. Without adequate flow, harmful algal blooms such as brown tide will likely become common. Algae can block sunlight from penetrating to the sea grasses and the grass will die. Without sea grass the Laguna's water will become murky and largely unproductive.

Many marine species benefit and rely on this cut at various stages of their life and reproductive cycles; these include flounder, trout, redfish, shrimp, crabs and even the threatened green sea turtle. The only other passes that connect the Laguna to the Gulf of Mexico lie fifty miles to the south and approximately one hundred miles to the north. Texas Parks and Wildlife has already acknowledged a downward trend in the spotted seatrout population and may be addressing this trend with specialized regulations. How much will the northern Laguna Madre decline without this pass? Good question unfortunately, the not-so-good answer is that nobody knows for sure.

The main issue is that projects such as these are simply not under consideration for funding at this time. The determining factor for dredging appropriations is based solely on commercial tonnage. In Port Mansfield there is no commercial tonnage. Even though the recreational and environmental impacts could be huge, they get little consideration.

The voter base in Willacy County is not enough to sway the legislature.
We are asking concerned fishermen and conservationists from all across Texas to join us. Our goal is to convince the legislature to appropriate funds to open the Port Mansfield Channel and create legacy funding to maintain it. Your help is appreciated and together we can make a difference.