Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow Projects Enhancing and Restoring Texas Coastal Habitat

CCA Texas Staff
Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow Projects Enhancing and Restoring Texas Coastal Habitat
Cedar Bayou/Vinson Slough – (looking north) excavation of the new VS channel is approaching the intersection point with backwaters of San Jose Island.
CCA Texas' habitat initiative, Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT) continues to move forward with habitat restoration and creation up and down the Texas coast. Projects including Cedar Bayou and Vinson Slough restoration, Galveston Bay Oyster Restoration, Bird Island Marsh Restoration (West Galveston Bay), Oyster Lake Shoreline Stabilization (West Galveston Bay) and Port O'Connor Nearshore Reefing Site permit acquisition are still in process and are set to be completed by the end of the year. The Nueces Bay Delta Water Management control system was completed in late June and is now is full operation.

The Nueces Bay Delta Water Management control system was completed in late June. This project was led by the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program (CBBEP) and CCA Texas contributed $70,000 in funding to this project. The basis of the project is to keep water that is pumped into the delta in the delta, and not allow it to back flow back into the Nueces River, thus bypassing the lower portions of the delta. After a temporary pilot project of swinging gates proved to have some success, the project moved forward with the installation of three 48" box culverts with sliding gates installed on them. As water is pumped into the delta per agreements with local agencies, these new gated culverts will keep the water in the delta and force it to flow that direction. By creating the "dam", the delta will get the full benefit of the water pumped into the system. Downstream salinity monitors allow CBBEP to see when the water has reached the lower end of the delta and once pumping is completed and the water has made its way downstream, the gates will be opened back up to allow for natural tidal movement. CCA Texas looks forward to continuing habitat restoration and creation work with CBBEP in the future and continuing to build a strong partnership.

The Cedar Bayou and Vinson Slough Restoration project continues to move forward and estimates still are looking for a mid to late September 2014 completion, with weather days figured into the schedule. The dredging and excavation process is progressing steadily and as of June 29, 2014, 2,400 feet of advancement had been made by the dredge in Cedar Bayou and 2,800 feet of advancement had been made in Vinson's Slough with the use of two excavators and five off-road dump trucks. The intersection of Cedar Bayou and Vinson's Slough is expected to be completed in late July before this issue of TSF hits the news stands. The final portion of Vinson's Slough will be completed by hydraulic dredge. CCA Texas looks forward to the completion of this historic project and all the benefit that will be realized by the surrounding bays and wetlands. For weekly updates, be sure to visit http://www.ccatexas.org/conservation/habitat/cedar-bayou/.

The East Galveston Bay Oyster Restoration Project continues to move forward. Originally scheduled to be completed in July, the project now looks to be finished the first of August, culminating in the completion of the 10 acre CCA Middle Reef restoration work. This project will have restored 180 acres of oyster reef in the East Galveston Bay complex when completed. This includes 85 acres at Hannah's, 70 acres at Pepper Grove, 15 acres at Middle Reef and 10 acres at CCA Middle Reef. This effort is one of the largest to date in the Galveston system and has a total cost of over $3.5 million with CCA Texas contributing $500,000 towards the effort.

TPWD and CCA Texas encourage local recreational fishermen to participate in data collection via the "Citizen Scientist" program. This effort will help set baselines for this restoration work and requires fishermen to fish in specific areas and specific methods. For more information, please visit http://www.ccatexas.org/cca-texas-tpwd-fish-survey/ or contact John Blaha at jdblaha@ccatexas.org or Bill Rodney at Bill.Rodney@tpwd.texas.gov.

CCA Texas staff and volunteers along with volunteers from Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF), NRG Energy United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW), and the Houston Zoo gathered in June for a grass planting at the Oyster Lake Shoreline Stabilization Project. This effort was to plant approximately three-quarters of an acre with over 2,000 smooth cord grass plants provided by NRG. These plants were placed behind the first 500 feet of breakwater on the West Galveston Bay side. This project is a great example of the success that breakwater and marsh restoration efforts can provide. Since the installation of these initial breakwaters in September, roughly 1,100 cubic yards of sediment materials have accumulated behind the breakwater on the West Galveston Bay side of the project, which is a good start to rebuilding the barrier island between West Galveston Bay and Oyster Lake. Once completed, this breakwater will span approximately one mile along the West Galveston Shoreline. Additional breakwaters are also being placed inside Oyster Lake. CCA Texas contributed $200,000 to this effort. NGOs such as GBF and CCA Texas are another example of groups working together to ensure a healthy coastal resource in Texas.

CCA Texas has contributed in excess of $3.6 million dollars to habitat projects since the inception of Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow in late 2009. These contributions are through the direct efforts of CCA Texas volunteers via the banquet fundraising process in chapters across the state. Dollars raised in Texas, stay in Texas for projects like these, supporting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Coastal Fisheries and Game Warden divisions, graduate student scholarships, and TPWD hatcheries.