Another $1 million awarded county for Cedar Bayou dredging

From the Rockport Pilot, August 31, 2013

An additional $1 million-plus has been awarded to Aransas County for the Cedar Bayou-Vinson Slough dredging project, from the Texas General Land Office.

Aransas County Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills was notified officially Thursday afternoon, Aug. 29.

The decades-long effort by fishermen and coastal experts to reopen a natural fish pass near Rockport is getting a $1 million boost from the Texas General Land Office.

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson announced he will award $1,071,032 in funding derived from offshore drilling in federal waters toward the effort to reopen Cedar Bayou.

The effort is expected to cost more than $8.3 million. The $1 million-plus is from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) funding and should bring Cedar Bayou backers to within $1.3 million of the final goal. The General Land Office has contributed nearly $1.4 million to the cause, cumulatively.

Patterson said, “Reopening this natural fish pass will restore the connection between the bay system and Gulf. It will be good for the whooping cranes and good for fishermen.”

Mills said they expect to bid the project by mid-October and begin work by April of 2014.

History

Cedar Bayou and nearby Vinson Slough connect the Aransas and Mesquite bay systems to the Gulf of Mexico. That area was closed in 1979 to protect the bays from a massive oil spill caused by the Mexican state oil monopoly Pemex. Since then, coastal experts, activists and fishermen have worked to restore the natural connection.

From 2006 to 2008, Save Cedar Bayou, Inc. and the General Land Office collectively invested more than $400,000.00 to study Cedar Bayou and develop a new strategy to reopen and maintain the pass.

The Feasibility Study was performed by Coast & Harbor Engineering.

The engineers reviewed existing data and previous studies, resurveyed the pass and surrounding areas, studied the tides and sediment flows along the coast, and developed a better understanding of the pass’s dynamics.  Not surprisingly, the engineers discovered that to reopen and maintain the pass flow through the Cedar Bayou channel would have to be increased and hydraulic resistance reduced. Increasing the flow rate allows for higher water velocities at the Gulf mouth of the Bayou, which helps scour sediments from the channel mouth. Without regular scouring at the mouth, sediments build up and eventually lead to the closure of the Bayou.

The engineers recommended a return to the historic configuration by re-opening and reconnecting Cedar Bayou to Vinson Slough. They found that when connected to Cedar Bayou, Vinson Slough increases the total volume of flow through Cedar Bayou in addition to the flow gradient and the flow velocities at the mouth of Cedar Bayou.  It was a solid analysis and efforts to obtain the permits for the project were launched.

In 2008, Aransas County assumed leadership of the project, and moved successfully towards obtaining the US Army Corps of Engineers permit in 2011.

In August 2011, the US Army Corps of Engineers issued the Section 404 Dredge & Fill permit to reopen Cedar Bayou to Aransas County based on the design developed by Coast & Harbor Engineering.

In 2012, the commissioners court approved funding to complete final engineering and surveys for initial restoration of the pass.

Coast & Harbor Engineering has been tasked with proceeding with final engineering and surveys for the project. When those plans are complete, the project could start to move sand as early as April 2013.

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 online at www.restorecedarbayou.org.

The partnership to reopen Cedar Bayou, led by Aransas County, includes the Coastal Conservation Association, the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Harte Research Institute and the Texas General Land Office.

The effort also has support from the Texas General Land Office, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Effort to open up Cedar Bayou gets $200,000 boost

Texas Coastal Management Program awards grant to re-open natural pass

(from The Texas General Land Office)

AUSTIN — Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson today announced a $200,000 grant to help re-open Cedar Bayou, a natural pass between the Gulf of Mexico and the Aransas Bay complex.

“This is good news for the whooping cranes, as well as everything else that depends on a healthy bay system,” Patterson said. “Everything alive in the Aransas and Mesquite bay systems will benefit once this pass opens and the natural dynamics are restored.”

The $200,000 grant awarded today is in addition to the $518,000 the General Land Office previously awarded for work to reopen Cedar Bayou.

The project will straighten Cedar Bayou and connect it with a channel from Vinson Slough near the beach of San Jose Island. Dredge sand from the channel will be placed in a semi-circle offshore to bolster a natural delta and to diffuse waves that tend to plug the mouth with sand. This will re-establish the hydraulic connection between the Gulf of Mexico and the Aransas/Mesquite bay system and re-establish the life-cycle migration route for a variety of marine species, as well as enhance tidal flow to thousands of acres of tidal wetlands adjacent to Cedar Bayou and Vinson Slough.

The Cedar Bayou grant application was evaluated by representatives from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Railroad Commission of Texas, the Texas Department of Transportation, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Texas Water Development Board, the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, the Texas Sea Grant College Program and the Texas General Land Office. The General Land Office granted final approval of the project as part of this year’s Coastal Management Program grant cycle.

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Funding moves closer as Aransas County allocates additional $1,750,000 to restore Cedar Bayou

From the Rockport Pilot:

Aransas County commissioners tooK action Monday, Sept. 24, which will save the county on its debt service payments, will not increase the debt service tax rate, and will enable the court to set aside more funds for the dredging of Cedar Bayou.

The court approved an order authorizing the issuance of approximately $7,145,000 in limited tax refunding bonds, series 2012. These bonds will refinance the county’s 2003 certificates of obligation (CO) which will result in a savings of $1,276,978.13 over the life of the bonds.

Financial Advisor Bob Henderson explained the refinanced bonds will be structured the same as the original bonds. Those, however, were based on a 4.67 percent interest rate. The refinanced bonds will be at a 1.91 percent interest rate, resulting in a savings of $107,000 to $108,000 per year.

Those COs were issued for the construction of the Aransas County Detention Center and are financed by the County and City of Rockport. The County pays 85.9 percent of the payment and the City, 14.1 percent.

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Aransas County allocates $985,000 to restore Cedar Bayou

From the Rockport Pilot:

County Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills announced recently the county has been awarded $985,005 in federal funds from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) funds. Those monies will be used for the Cedar Bayou/Vincent Slough Restoration project.

In regard to the CIAP funds, Mills said they have been waiting for word about the funds for a long time, and the news is welcomed. “We will put them to good use,” the judge noted.

He pointed out the funds are actually two grants combined into one, and all the monies will be used toward dredging Cedar Bayou and Vinson Slough, a project expected to cost $6.5 million, or more.

At this time, there is about $1.5 million collected for that project,  Mills said. Fund raising efforts continue with the goal to begin dredging on or about April 15, 2013. The judge explained that is when the whooping cranes are gone.

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CCA Texas Takes Bold Step in Opening Cedar Bayou

$500,000 pledge kicks off multi-million dollar fundraising campaign

Aransas County, Texas – The Coastal Conservation Association Texas recently announced a $500,000 matching grant to initiate a new push in generating the funding to open Aransas County’s Cedar Bayou and Vincent Slough.  After decades of negative impacts from siltation and low water flows, an estimated $6.5M effort will be required to open the vital connection from Mesquite and Aransas Bays to the Gulf of Mexico.

Read More.