Dredging of Cedar Bayou to begin in April, with focus on inflows

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Cedar Bayou is located near Rockport, Texas
Cedar Bayou is a natural pass that historically has linked the Gulf of Mexico with a number of bay systems

Efforts to reopen Cedar Bayou near Rockport have fully materialized, with dredging set to begin April 15, an undertaking years in the making that is set to improve water quality and fishing in the area, among other conservation-related issues.

The estimated $9 million project has received funding from a variety of sources, including through federal grants and direct money from groups including the Coastal Conservation Association. The partnership to reopen Cedar Bayou, led by Aransas County, also includes the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Harte Research Institute and the General Land Office.

“This dream is finally becoming a reality,” said Aransas County Judge Burt Mills, in a news release. “This project will create a tremendous economic and environmental opportunity for Aransas County and the entire state of Texas. Through the hard work of so many partners, we will now push this initiative forward.”

Cedar Bayou is a natural pass that historically has linked the Gulf of Mexico with a number of bay systems, providing significant resources to a number of species that depend on tidal movement to reproduce and mature. Among those species of notable importance to recreational anglers are redfish, speckled trout, flounder, crabs and varying colors of shrimp.

Cedar Bayou had been open for most of the time since records were kept in the 1800s, until it was closed in 1979 to protect bay systems from a large oil spill near Campeche, Mexico. That closure remained in place until 1987, when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department made its first attempt to reopen the pass. The effort didn’t net lasting results and the pass again was closed in the early 1990s. TPWD made another attempt to reopen the pass in the mid-’90s but it also proved unsuccessful due to budget constraints.

“It is not often that there is an opportunity to reopen vital passes like these,” said Robby Byers, CCA Texas executive director, in the release. “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.”

Mills signed the dredging permit for Cedar Bayou and nearby Vinson Slough on Aug. 3, 2011.

“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, in the release.

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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