Record Year and Renewed Commitments

John Blaha
Record Year and Renewed Commitments
CCA staff member Amie Hoy and TPWD employee Jan Culbertson planting grasses in the Dickinson Bayou project. Community efforts are often a big part of restoration efforts along the Texas coast. Photo by Lisa Laskowski.

For CCA Texas, 2018 proved to be its most successful year on many levels.  This success would not be possible without the continued support of many volunteers at the local, state and national levels. Volunteers are the heart and soul of CCA, and the continued success of the organization will be the continued commitment of these volunteers and an energized staff.

In 2018, CCA Texas’s support of coastal fisheries remained strong in all corners of conservation.   Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) is the most important force to ensure the health of coastal fisheries. Whether it’s research, habitat restoration and creation, education or enforcement, CCA Texas is there to assist TPWD.

CCA Texas continued to provide funding for the summer intern programs in both the Coastal Fisheries and Law Enforcement divisions of TPWD. Internships were funded for Coastal Fisheries along the entire Texas coast and within the hatchery system. TPWD Game wardens were also the recipients of internship funding. The internships in both the coastal fisheries and law enforcement divisions provide excellent opportunities for both students and the agencies. The students are given the opportunity to work in the field they are studying and the agencies have an excellent opportunity to see prospective employees in hands-on work situations. Internships function as a very effective recruitment tool for TPWD.  

CCA Texas also continues to provide critical funds to coastal fisheries for research equipment, studies, and habitat restoration and creation efforts. TPWD Game Wardens are the last stop in ensuring that the laws governing the use and protection of coastal resources are respected and followed. CCA Texas has a longstanding commitment to helping Game Wardens in their efforts by providing needed equipment such as night vision optics, GPS units, and cameras. In addition, CCA Texas has provided the necessary funds for repairs to vessels and outpost cabins, and other enforcement tools. CCA Texas has a longstanding relationship with TPWD and is committed to continuing the support and partnership.

In addition to great support from membership, CCA Texas also has many great partners. These partners include organizations such as Galveston Bay Foundation, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, San Antonio Bay Foundation, Friends of RGV Reef, Friends of Sabine Reefs, and other like NGOs.

Academic institutions also play a vital role in the conservation of our coastal resources. CCA Texas has longstanding and successful partnerships with the University of Texas and Texas A&M systems. CCA has funded and continues to fund many great efforts in these systems, including Texas A&M campuses in College Station, Galveston, and Corpus Christi, while also providing critical support to the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas. These academic institutions are some of the finest and most advanced in the world, and often hold the keys and open the doors to important scientific advances in marine conservation, worldwide. Along with the organizational, governmental, and academic partnerships, other major supporters and partners to CCA Texas include Academy Sports + Outdoors, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses, Dripping Springs Vodka, Karbach Brewing Company, Engel Coolers and Upstream Advocacy. Partnerships are key to the continued success of CCA Texas.

 Education of graduate students and youth continue to be an important part of the conservation effort. CCA Texas funds seven $5,000 graduate student scholarships to Texas A&M and University of Texas systems annually. These students apply and their applications are reviewed by professors and the CCA Texas scholarship committee in the selection process.  

The State of Texas Anglers Rodeo (STAR) provides $325,000 in scholarships annually to youth and teens. These scholarships include three $50,000 scholarships in the STAR Kids Divisions, ages 6 to 10, six $25,000 scholarships in the STAR Teens Divisions, ages 11 to 17, and one $25,000 scholarship in a general drawing for all youth ages 6 to 17 that are entered into the tournament.  STAR celebrated its twenty-ninth year in 2018 and thus far scholarships awards to Texas youths have reached a whopping $6.5 million.

CCA Texas approved the creation of Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow, the CCA Texas habitat initiative in December 2009. This move added another important leg to the CCA Texas platform, and the effort to insure healthy coastal resources for future generations of Texans. Since the creation of HTFT, CCA Texas along with Building Conservation Trust (BCT), CCA National’s habitat program, has funded over $6.5 million to habitat restoration and creation efforts along the Texas coast. These efforts have included marsh and oyster restoration, nearshore reefing efforts, restoration of the historic Cedar Bayou, and science-based initiatives that determine the best possible means for restoration and creation efforts. CCA Texas and BCT are extremely proud of these efforts and in 2018 provided over $985,000 to projects spanning the entire Texas coast. CCA Texas and BCT look forward to the future and working closely with partners in like organizations, governmental agencies and academia.

The cornerstone and the beginning of CCA Texas’s efforts is a strong advocacy effort. CCA Texas advocacy is driven by the CCA Texas Governmental Affairs Committee (GAC) under the guidance and leadership of CCA Texas Advocacy Director, Shane Bonnot. As a part of the CCA Texas Advocacy Team, CCA Texas also employees two lobbyists in Austin to keep a constant vigil for bills of coastal resource importance, and to work closely with the CCA Texas GAC.  In active session years, the team is busy and works continuously with TPWD and others to fight for the benefit our Texas’s coastal resources.  

As stated early on in this writing, the success of CCA Texas is the product of continued support of dedicated volunteers and members. The advocacy effort of CCA Texas is also a very important role for volunteers and members to be a part of.  Often times, volunteers and members are called upon to publicly testify on behalf of the efforts of CCA Texas and TPWD. This participation is key to conservation efforts, and it is perhaps at times the most important way a member can become involved. Once CCA Texas issues a call to action, it is important to take part in these efforts and make the organizations members’ voices collectively heard.

CCA Texas’s volunteer leadership and staff are indebted to the efforts of volunteers and members alike. CCA Texas will be entering its forty-second year in 2019 and the leadership and staff look forward to another successful and record breaking year filled with even more accomplishments.