Grassroots and Conservation Equal Success

John Blaha
Grassroots and Conservation Equal Success
Marsh grass planting at the Galveston Bay-Oyster Lake Project exemplifies the types of opportunities available for volunteers wanting to improve marine habitat resources. -Lisa Laskowski photo.
As you open the pages of this month's TSFMag, CCA Texas will have already held one banquet, been a part of the Houston and San Antonio boat shows, and be preparing for the All Valley and Coastal Bend shows as well. Hunters are putting away their hunting gear and prepping their fishing gear, while the trophy trout enthusiasts have been at it for a couple months now chasing that once in a lifetime speckled trout. January and February also signals the kickoff for CCA Texas across the state as the planning activities for the year settle into place and, for some chapters, shift into high gear.

2014 was once again a record-setting year for CCA Texas and individual chapters across the state. Attendance and money raised were both at all-time highs, and none of this would be possible without the continued support of volunteers and supporters at the grassroots level of all the local chapters. The support of volunteers, members and sponsors is unparalleled by any like organization in the state and across the nation, and CCA Texas is thankful for this support as it continues to move forward in ensuring a healthy coastal resource for the entire state of Texas.

The belief in the CCA mission continues to be strong as witnessed by continued growth, not only in Texas, but in states along the Gulf, Atlantic and Pacific. The organization established its first inland state chapter when a group of passionate anglers in Nashville approached the organization about creating a Nashville Chapter. Several anglers in the area regularly fish the Florida Panhandle and other areas, and wanted to be a part of the organization that made a difference for the coastal resources all along the U.S. Coasts. The event was held in November, it was a sellout and a great success.

The continued success of CCA Texas and other state chapters across the nation point to a growing desire and belief that the present day anglers must step up and take a responsible attitude to ensure that the present generations and those in the future will be able to enjoy healthy and bountiful coastal resources. Many times the desire may be the same, but the approach by different organizations may be different. In the end, the key to any conservation effort is to put the resource first.

How can you help? There are many opportunities to help in the coastal conservation efforts in Texas. Looking to volunteer? How about becoming an active member in your local CCA Chapter, taking part in a clean-up activity such as the Annual Crab Trap Cleanup or the Padre Island National Seashore Big Shell Cleanup, participating in Marsh Mania on the Upper Texas Coast, simply carrying a trash bag with you every time you hit the water and picking up trash as you go along; or educating yourself about issues along the coast and becoming an active participant in the public hearing process. Opportunities are everywhere, and you do not have to look far to find them.

CCA Texas and the local chapters welcome new faces to the area banquet planning committees and chapter boards. Visit or call the CCA offices at (713) 626-4222 and ask for your area chapter's Assistant Director and they will get you in contact with the right person or make suggestions on how you can get involved.

In closing, I recently found myself in a conversation with Capt. Jay Watkins after a recent trip on which one of his clients had caught a life-time trout. As the conversation carried on, Jay reflected how everything just worked out perfect: the planning, the preparation, the approach during the day of fishing, and lastly how once hooked, the fish was brought to hand just as it should be in a rewarding manner. High fives and hugs were shared, photos taken and then the fish was released and the reflection began. We talked some more and he closed with the fact that a lot of people never get to experience that once in a life-time fish and that some are luckier and get to experience it more than once. His last comment knocked me back in my chair and hit me hard. One of his very close and best friends is currently in a battle for his life with cancer. His comment was that his best friend most likely would never get to experience that opportunity again. This comment drove home the fact that each and every trip out we should stop and spend just a few minutes to enjoy what we are surrounded by, because that could be our last time.

Enjoy the resource and conserve it for the future!