Partners dig deep to open Cedar Bayou in Texas
After being sealed in the 1970s and decades of negative impacts from siltation and low water flows, an estimated $9.4M effort will be required to open Cedar Bayou and Vinson Slough. This historic effort, which is slated to start on April 15, will create the vital connection from Mesquite and Aransas Bays to the Gulf of Mexico. With Aransas County kicking off the campaign in 2009, Coastal Conservation Association Texas initiated a new effort in 2012 with a $500,000 matching grant to help open these iconic and environmentally significant passes.
Cedar Bayou is a natural pass that separates St. Jose Island from Matagorda Island. Dredging efforts date back to the 1930s, but partial efforts, siltation and misplacement of spoil materials have eventually led to the pass and adjacent Vinson Slough being sealed.
"It is not often that there is an opportunity to reopen vital passes like these," said Robby Byers, CCA Texas executive director. "It has been a monumental fundraising campaign, but through the partnership of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Aransas County, General Land Office, CCA and so many generous supporters, the project will begin."
"The Fish Pass at Cedar Bayou has long been a special and storied place for Texas' saltwater anglers and coastal enthusiasts. Re-opening the historic Fish Pass will undoubtedly provide additional high quality recreational opportunities for Texas' anglers to enjoy the bountiful outdoor resources for which this stretch of the coast is so well known," said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. "Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is proud to be a partner with Aransas County, Coastal Conservation Association, and all the others who have worked so long to make this a reality."
"Opening a pass between the Gulf and bay is never easy, and raising the funds to complete it can be even more daunting," said Mark Ray, CCA Texas Chairman. "As the scope of the project and the associated costs have grown, every partner has stepped to the plate again and again to ensure we reach our goal. It is a great day for the Texas coast and the recreational anglers who enjoy our shared coastal resources."
Maryland recreational anglers use voluntary restraint in an effort to conserve striped bass
For years recreational anglers in Maryland have been deeply concerned with the current state of the striped bass population. In mid 2013, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission completed a striped bass benchmark stock assessment that showed that the spawning stock biomass (sexually mature female striped bass) was in serious decline. ASMFC reacted by voting 14 to 2 in favor of harvest cuts in Januray 2015. You can read a breakdown of striped bass issues here.
In November of 2013, Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced they planned to increase the quota for 2014 by 14%. While MD DNR contends that science supports this increase, CCA Maryland believes this is a terrible mistake.
What can be done? Recreational anglers have an incredible opportunity to send a powerful message to fisheries managers up and down the coast. The "My Limit is One" initiative uses voluntary restraint and selective decision-making when fishing.
Artificial reef project in Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana.
CCA Louisiana, Shell Oil Company, The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and Pontchartrain Materials recently completed construction on a new artificial reef in Lake Pontchartrain on the west side of the Williams Boulevard fishing pier.
The reef was constructed using 2,000 tons of crushed limestone and was the 13th reef constructed by CCA Louisiana and its partners in conservation. It is the fourth artificial reef project in Lake Pontchartrain.
The placement of the limestone reef to the west side of the Williams Boulevard fishing pier will give access to shore-based anglers.
"The reef will generate great fishing for those within casting distance of the pier," East Jefferson CCA Chapter President Bill LeJeune said. Funding for the Williams Boulevard Pier Reef was provided by Shell Oil Company, CCA's Building Conservation Trust and LDWF's Artificial Reef Trust Fund. Continuing support of CCA's Artificial Reef Program is provided by the Paul Candies Family.
Kenny Chesney accepts honorary board seat with CCA's habitat program
The Building Conservation Trust, the national marine habitat program of the Coastal Conservation Association, is proud to announce country superstar Kenny Chesney will serve as an honorary board member. Founded in 2010 to enable people who love and enjoy the oceans, the Trust supports projects that revitalize critical habitat and establish a vibrant foundation for the marine ecosystem.
"Very few people have captured the essence of what draws us to the oceans as well as Kenny Chesney has over his incredible career," said Patrick Murray, president of CCA. "The most passionate stewards of our marine environment are the ones drawn to the water for sport, relaxation and reflection. Through his music and life, Kenny has inspired an entire generation to engage in ocean conservation and stewardship, and we are very proud to have him on the board of the Trust."
"We have come to a place where everyone needs to get involved if the oceans, the beaches, the sea life is important to us as human beings," Chesney said of his involvement. "No one person can save the world - or the water. But in creating alliances, bringing people who care together and creating projects that can have an impact we start to slowly protect and build up this important natural resource."
All systems go for Jacksonville, Florida reefing project
Two new fishing reefs planned for the St. Johns River in the heart of Jacksonville are one major step closer to reality after the state of Florida matched a pledge by the Building Conservation Trust to fully fund the project. The two reefs are scheduled for deployment in late spring/early summer and will be placed less than half a mile from the I-95 Bridge over the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville.
The Jacksonville Chapter of CCA Florida then raised the matching funding and worked with the state of Florida to realize the vision. The Jacksonville reefs are an opportunity to create valuable marine habitat in an area of the river where the public has unparalleled access, and where a wide variety of fish can be found depending on the time of year, right in the shadow of high-rise office buildings.
The deployment will consist of more than 25,000 cubic feet of concrete rubble and the material will be arranged to provide sufficient clearance from the surface, with three to four foot mounds intermixed with open spaces to create an ideal habitat for fish.
The site is currently open, barren sand, setting the stage for a remarkable transformation. Jacksonville University has announced plans to study the reefs over the next two years to gauge the impact of the structures on the surrounding area. The Jacksonville reefs are the latest of 14 marine habitat restoration projects undertaken by BCT since it was created in 2010.
Newsletter Editor and Designer: Heather Peterek