Work continues on the restoration of Cedar Bayou as a series of recent significant steps clears the way for sand to fly at the earliest possible moment. Aransas County has approved 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 County is clearly committed to doing the project right and making sure that it succeeds over the long term," said Robby Byers, executive director of CCA Texas. "This has not been an easy road, but the pieces are really starting to fall into place. It is a major undertaking, but we have faith that the partnership between the County, CCA Texas and the recreational angling community will get it done."
Aransas County has pledged $948,000 towards the cost of opening the pass, while CCA Texas has pledged an additional $500,000. The County and CCA Texas have partnered to hire a professional fundraiser to secure the remaining $5.5 million and applications to several federal grant programs have already been made. Additionally, a website dedicated to the project has been launched to provide up-to-date information about the project as well as an opportunity for individuals to make contributions at www.restorecedarbayou.org.
"We have been very pleased with the pace of progress," said Aransas County Judge C.H. "Burt" Mills. "There is a considerable amount of momentum building towards the successful conclusion of this project, and it is good to be able to say that after so many years of frustration with the permit application and approval process. The private/public partnership has worked beautifully so far and it has been the key to moving this project to reality so quickly."
Coastal Harbor Engineering has been tasked with proceeding with final engineering and surveys for the project, which are expected to take four to five months to complete. When those plans are complete and full funding is in place, the project could start to move sand as early as April 2013.
Deer Movement Restrictions ConsideredState wildlife officials say more deliberation is needed before new rules are adopted governing Texas Parks and Wildlife Departments regulatory response to the detection of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Texas. Consideration of proposed rules restricting deer movement in the CWD affected area of far West Texas will be delayed until the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissions November meeting.Proposed rules being considered would limit permitted deer movement into or from areas in which CWD has been discovered as well as areas for which there is a moderate to high probability that the disease exists undetected.Officials will be collecting samples from hunter harvested mule deer for CWD testing. All mule deer harvested in the CWD Containment Zone of El Paso, Hudspeth, and Culberson counties during the upcoming mule deer season, Nov. 23-Dec. 9 will be inspected by officials at mandatory hunter check stations and tested for CWD. Mandatory check stations will be set up at the Van Horn Convention Center and at Maes Café in Cornudas.
Hunters in the surrounding High Risk Zone are encouraged to submit harvested deer for CWD testing at voluntary check stations in Bakersfield, Midland, Alpine and Sanderson, scheduled to be open during all three weekends of the general mule deer season.
Hurricane Isaac Provided Natural Nutria Control
The surge of water Hurricane Isaac along the Mississippi coast flushed out and drowned thousands of nutria--giant rodents originally from South America that are eating away at coastal marshlands all along the Gulf Coast.
Most of the dead nutria washed up on beaches in Mississippis Hancock and Harrison counties.
"Estimates are there will be over 20,000 carcasses," said Robbie Wilbur, spokesman for the states department of environmental quality.
Fur trappers looking for new stock released nutria in Louisiana and Mississippi back in the 1930s. Fur demand kept populations in check, but a collapse fueled by animal-rights campaigns in the 1980s led to reduced trapping and a population now estimated at several million.
Consequently, nutria are "one of the Gulf Souths most notorious invasive species, wreaking ecological havoc on native wetland vegetation and contributing to coastal erosion problems," Mississippis Department of Environmental Quality said in its plan for dealing with invasives.
The bloated carcasses of dead nutria litter a Mississippi shoreline. photo: Courtesy Michael Spooneybarger
Nutria cause erosion by nutria digging into thin soils and eating roots of marsh vegetation. As the vegetation dies, the fine-grained, denuded soils become more vulnerable to erosion, eventually forming expanding holes in the marsh called "eat-outs."
The species is also a prolific breeder, reaching sexual maturity at just four months old, and females are able to breed again within 48 hours of giving birth to a litter.