Effort to restore, reopen Cedar Bayou along Texas coast nets more funding

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Ongoing funding efforts to restore Cedar Bayou have received a significant boost with a $250,000 commitment from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department 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.

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 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, Aransas County Judge C. H. “Burt” Mills signed the dredging permit for Cedar Bayou and Vincent Slough on Aug. 3, 2011. Although the pass has been dredged numerous times through history, this will be the largest and most comprehensive effort.

The 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 yielded impressive results. 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. CCA Texas has pledged $520,000. The county and CCA Texas also have partnered to hire a professional fundraiser to secure additional funds and applications to several federal grant programs have already been made. Aransas County also has provided funding to complete final engineering and surveys for initial restoration of the pass and also has 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.

For the latest information about the project as well as an opportunity for individuals to make contributions online, visit www.restorecedarbayou.org.

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