TPWD gives funding boost to Cedar Bayou project
Department’s $250,000 commitment, coupled with $100,000 from CCA National habitat program, brings restoration project closer to reality
AUSTIN, TX – Ongoing funding efforts to restore Cedar Bayou have received a significant boost with a $250,000 commitment from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and a $100,000 contribution from the Building Conservation Trust, CCA’s national habitat program. The funding will go to support the work being done by Aransas County, Coastal Conservation Association Texas and other partners to open the pass between Matagorda and San Jose Islands.
“The commitment of Aransas County and its partners to raising necessary funding to accomplish both the initial dredging and subsequent maintenance of Cedar Bayou is another example of the ways the region has invested in the well-being of our coastal resources for present and future generations of Texans,” stated Carter Smith, executive director of TPWD, in a letter to Aransas County Judge C. H. “Burt” Mills. “This development is an exciting one and we are proud to offer our support for your efforts to restore this important coastal feature.”
Cedar Bayou is a natural pass that separates San Jose Island from Matagorda Island. Dredging efforts date back to the 1930s, but the pass’s fate was sealed during the Ixtoc I oil spill in 1979 when the State of Texas closed the pass intentionally to prevent oil from entering sensitive estuarine areas. Since then, partial restoration efforts, siltation and misplacement of spoil materials have led to the pass and adjacent Vincent Slough being sealed. After a protracted application and approval process, Judge Mills signed the dredging permit for Cedar Bayou and Vincent Slough on August 3, 2011. Although the pass has been dredged numerous times through history, this will be the largest and most comprehensive effort to date.
“The ultimate goal with this project is to take the best science and engineering available and open the pass the right way, once and for all,” said Mark Ray, chairman of CCA Texas. “It is a significant undertaking with tremendous potential to benefit an entire region of the Texas coast, and it is gratifying to see private and public entities come together to get the job done. The commitment from TPWD is huge not just from a financial standpoint, but as a symbol of how important this project is to the entire state.”
The total cost of the restoration project is about $7 million, and a partnership announced in 2012 between Aransas County and CCA Texas to raise the necessary funds has already yielded impressive results. So far, Aransas County has pledged $985,000 in Coastal Impact Assistance Program funds toward the cost of opening the pass and allocated an additional $1.75 million that was saved by restructuring a general revenue bond. On top of that, CCA Texas has pledged $520,000. The County and CCA Texas have also partnered to hire a professional fundraiser to secure additional funds and applications to several federal grant programs have already been made. Aransas County has also provided funding to complete final engineering and surveys for initial restoration of the pass and has also announced that it will annually allocate at least $50,000 to a Cedar Bayou Maintenance Fund, a critical component to keeping the pass open in the future.
“The pieces to this puzzle are really coming together,” said Robby Byers, executive director of CCA Texas. “With the $250,000 pledge from TPWD and the $100,000 from the Building Conservation Trust, more than half of the target amount has been raised and we are working diligently to secure the rest. It’s been a long time coming, but the opening Cedar Bayou is getting closer to reality.”
For the latest information about the project as well as an opportunity for individuals to make contributions online, visit www.restorecedarbayou.org.