The Cedar Bayou restoration effort aimed at reopening the pass that previously divided Matagorda and San Jose islands continues to net funding, including a $1 million allocation announced Thursday by the Texas General Land Office.
The funding is derived from offshore drilling in federal waters.
The project, which is aimed at dredging out and straightening the historical path of Cedar Bayou, has been estimated at a cost of more than $8 million, leaving it about $1.3 million short of the funding needed to proceed. The effort would help link up with nearby Vinson Slough, providing Gulf of Mexico inflows into estuarine areas.
Cedar Bayou is a natural pass south of Rockport that historically has linked the Gulf 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.
The 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, 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.
For the latest information about the project as well as an opportunity for individuals to make contributions online, visit www.restorecedarbayou.org.