The latest from the “Friends Of Lydia Ann Channel”

As forwarded by Dave Hayward with Swan Point Landing

As you and most folks who fish the Port Aransas/ Aransas Pass/ Rockport area know, a private company was granted a lease by the Texas General Land Office (GLO), and later a “Letter of Permission” from the Corps of Engineers (USACE) to construct a mile-and-a-half long barge fleeting facility in Lydia Ann Channel, directly across from the Lighthouse.

The project has displaced recreational use of that shoreline, created a hazard to navigation and poses a very real threat of devastating environmental and economic impact on a sensitive area in the event of a spill. Those of us who have boated and fished this water our whole lives know that the Lydia Ann Channel is the main tidal connection between the Redfish and Aransas Bay Systems and the Gulf. An incredible amount of water funnels through the channel. It serves as an important migratory route for baitfish, gamefish, shrimp and other wildlife. A swift incoming tide and stiff wind will push any spill, along with the inevitable runoff, from the facility into these bays within minutes, without possibility of control. It would destroy fishing in the Lighthouse Lakes, Redfish Bay, Aransas Bay and St. Jo.

As a result, concerned citizens and fishermen formed a non-profit “Friends of Lydia Ann Channel”, and filed a lawsuit against USACE in December 2015 challenging the improper granting of a ‘Letter of Permission’, without any environmental studies or public comment. The issuance of a Letter of Permission for a project of this scale, located in an environmentally sensitive area, inside the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area, was wholly inappropriate. A Letter of Permission is an abbreviated permitting process which, by law, is reserved for situations where “the proposed work would be minor, would not have significant individual or cumulative impacts on environmental values, and should encounter no appreciable opposition”. The company and the government essentially took a short cut on the permitting process, and the result is the eyesore on one of our favorite pieces of water that threatens to ruin our fishery.

The Texas Observer recently published a pretty good piece on the issue: https://www.texasobserver.org/port-aransas-barge-lydia-ann-controversy/

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Coastal Workshop in Rockport this Weekend

Hi Folks,

PLEASE take a look at this important coastal workshop presented by FlatsWorthy next Saturday, Feb. 25th at the Bay Education Center 121 Seabreeze Dr., in  Rockport;  with  teaching officials from the National Estuarine Research Reserve,  the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, and Sea Grant Texas at Texas A&M University scheduled to appear.   The workshop is Free to all but attending folks must register ahead of time at   https://goo.gl/forms/oAEUxNPIqe5ZLSTk1

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Willow Waterhole sampling shows a thriving fishery

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I participated in a fish sampling this past Tuesday and was amazed at the quality of the fishery that exists at the WILLOW WATERHOLE. img_2028We collected a variety of species including some large mouth bass, check out this nice specimen being displayed by Alice Best, fishery biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries Department. We also saw Sunfish, Shad, Tilapia, Carp and Armored Catfish.

The fish were in catchable numbers and size to justify a nice morning or afternoon’s effort.

Any one needing directions or tips on the fishing please feel free to call me . Mike Frankoff- 713-553-3003

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Willow Waterhole Update

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The Willow Water Hole (WWH) has moved forward with the development of an urban fishery and Texas Fly Fishers (TFF) has been an integral part of it. Of perhaps greatest importance is that Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) has begun stocking the ponds. In late March TPW stocked the ponds with bluegill and put largemouth bass in on April 25th. There will be a third stocking, catfish, in the fall. This is a major step forward and constitutes the basis of the fishery for the future. Many thanks to Alice Best and Mark Webb of TPW for making this happen.

In addition, a city wide fishing tournament that targets invasive species primarily, grass carp, will be held September 17, 2016. This date coincides with the Harvest Moon Festival currently being held at the Willow Water Hole which includes music, food and other activities. While the event would allow for participants to fish anywhere in the Braes Bayou Watershed the tournament would be headquartered at the WWH and all associated events including the weigh-in and awards presentation will be located there. This is planned as a major conservation event with city wide and regional support from a variety of sources including Texas Parks and Wildlife, Wilderness Houston, Houston Parks Department, Texas Fly Fishers and the WWH.
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Legislative News

The following is from an email sent by the CCA
House of Representatives Passes Bipartisan SHARE Act

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 242 – 161 in favor of the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (H.R. 2406), known as the SHARE Act.
Coastal Conservation Association members were asked earlier this week to contact their Congressmen in support of the SHARE Act, and to prevent some key provisions on angling from being removed from the bill. Your efforts were successful – specific provisions approved with the Act that impact the recreational fishing community include:

  • Ensuring that state and territorial fisheries agencies have a rightful say in fisheries management decisions in their own waters.
  • Protecting traditional fishing equipment containing lead from unwarranted federal bans.
  • Preventing unnecessary closures to fishing and hunting on public lands by implementing an “open until closed” management policy.
  • Requiring federal land managers to support and facilitate access for fishing, hunting and recreational shooting on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands.

Thanks to your help, the SHARE Act passed intact, marking an important step to ensuring that America’s hunting and angling traditions remain a priority for the federal government.

Powderhorn Ranch

Powderhorn Ranch: Coastal land set to become Texas’ next big state park

Largest land acquisition in state history full of diverse species, habitats

Posted: 12:00 a.m. Friday, Jan. 1, 2016

By Pam LeBlanc – American-Statesman Staff

Port Lavaca —

A sprawling old oak arches its back against the wind, bending its lanky arms all the way to the ground.

Those protective branches make the perfect backdrop for a campground, and one day Texans will pitch tents here at Powderhorn Ranch, near Matagorda Bay along the Gulf Coast.
They’ll train binoculars on impossibly pink roseate spoonbills, spy on egrets teetering through marshes on stiltlike legs, paddle kayaks in the bay or cast fishing lines into salt water. Some will catch a glimpse of the resident alligators, or hear the crash of a white-tailed buck charging through the underbrush.

“It’s hard to find a better place on the coast to wake up and watch the sunrise and put the sun to bed,” says Carter Smith, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “It’s just absolutely magical — the proximity to the bay, the rich history of the people and heritage, and the abundant wildlife.”

These 17,351 acres of marshes, grasslands and woodlands operated as a cattle ranch starting in the 1800s. Ultimately, part of the land will become a state park, where visitors can hike, camp, paddle or watch nature. The rest will serve as a wildlife management area, providing critical and fast-disappearing habitat for a variety of species.

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Willow Waterhole moves toward Inland Fishery

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As many of you know, I have been monitoring the progress of the construction of the Willow Waterhole (WWH) with the intention of helping to design and implement an inland fishery.

To review, the WWH is a stormwater detention basin that when completed will hold 600 million gallons of stormwater and will offer 279 acres of usable greenspace, and feeds into Braes Bayou to help alleviate flooding in Southwest Houston.

The project has presented a unique opportunity for private organizations, like the Texas Fly Fishers, to build upon the federal flood damage reduction incentive and create recreational and aesthetic features that benefit the community at large.

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