Remaining Committed to Habitat and Supported Projects

John Blaha
Remaining Committed to Habitat and Supported Projects
Goose Island State Park Marsh Restoration: More openings such as this will allow fresh water to circulate through the restored marsh and marine animals to move in and out freely. Photo by Lisa Laskowski.

CCA Texas and Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT), CCA Texas's habitat program, are committed to continuing the support of habitat restoration and habitat creation projects along the Texas coast. Another part of that commitment is the continued watchful eye and support of projects that have been completed or are ongoing over time. Continued support by partners is an important step to ensure that an upfront investment in habitat restoration or creation is protected and carried on. One such project is the Goose Island Marsh restoration project at Rockport.

The Goose Island Marsh restoration project was originally start by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) in 2005 with the placement of 4,400 linear feet of rock breakwater that helped protect the remains of an existing marsh area. In addition to protecting this marsh, this breakwater created a 40-acre lagoon. With the use of beneficial dredge materials, 24-acres of marsh were restored and over 11,000 native grass sprigs were planted through volunteer efforts. This project was completed to its current stage in 2010 with professional planting of native plants to supplement the volunteer efforts. The planting efforts survived the long term drought that the middle coast of Texas endured and after a wet spring in 2015, the marsh grasses are doing very well and the restored habitat has stabilized and stands in great shape.

The final piece of this project is to create openings in the surrounding levee system that protect the marsh mounds and marsh area. The purpose of these openings will be to establish water circulation within these areas and to allow fish and other marine animals the ability to move in and out and not get caught in a low-oxygen scenario during the summer months. These circulation openings will serve to bring fresh water and life into the marsh mound areas.

CCA Texas had previously committed $50,000 to the project through two separate $25,000 grants. The first grant was awarded in order to provide matching dollars for the dredging efforts that provided beneficial use materials that were used to build the marsh mounds within the project template. A second request of $25,000 was made by TPWD for planting grasses on the mounds once they were stabilized and, lastly, CCA Texas funded an additional $10,000 in August 2015 to allow TPWD the means to create the necessary circulation channels in this now vibrant marsh system. Marsh restoration and creation are critically important to the Texas coast and necessary follow up and expansion are needs to be considered as projects mature and reach their final completed status. CCA will remain committed to the projects it supports to ensure their long term success.

Looking toward the close of 2015

As we roll into the month of November, CCA Texas is thankful for another great year. Volunteers and membership continue to be the core to the success of the organization and by the end of 2015 CCA Texas will once again set a membership record. Life members will be up a significant number due to the current Life Membership incentive program where all new life members receive a High Standard Arms AR15 (5.56 cal.), marked with CCA logo. The incentive program will expire soon, so please watch your emails and newsletters for details and don't miss out on this great opportunity. CCA Texas banquets and secondary events continue to be very successful financially and in attendance. This success would not be possible without the continued support of volunteers, sponsors and supporters, and the membership as a whole and by the end of 2015 this support could possibly lead to another new fundraising record.

CCA Texas and CCA National continue to stay busy on many fronts. CCA Texas has continued to support habitat restoration and creation that includes oyster restoration, shoreline restoration to protect critical wetlands, marsh restoration, nearshore reefing along the Texas coast and much more in addition to an ever vigilant eye in Austin at the state capital. CCA National continues to stay busy on the national front with issues such as red snapper, rigs to reefs, sector separation and other Gulf fisheries issues that affect recreational anglers in Texas. In addition, Building Conservation Trust (BCT) has been hard at work to raise necessary funds for habitat projects across the entire Gulf, Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

What is Building Conservation Trust? Building Conservation Trust was officially created in 2013 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit supporting organization of CCA that is dedicated exclusively to the business of funding marine habitat creation and restoration in areas that can be accessed and enjoyed by recreational anglers. Funds that are raised by BCT are combined with local CCA chapter efforts to organize conservation projects that inspire local communities to work together for marine conservation. In 2010, Shell Oil Company provided the initial funding to CCA's habitat program with a $1.5 million dollar commitment over three years. This funding has provided the path for several large-scale, marine habitat projects in areas that were impacted by the Deepwater Horizon accident. BCT has already provided funding to 20 projects in its short existence and is committed to making a long term difference to coastal habitat restoration and creation along all coasts.

In closing, November is the month of Thanksgiving and from the staff and leadership of CCA Texas and CCA National, thank you to the members, supporters and sponsors for the continued commitment to making CCA the most successful marine conservation organization of its kind.