Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Reopening Cedar Bayou is good for environment

By the Advocate Editorial Board
July 9, 2014 at 2:09 a.m.

The Gulf Coast teems with life. The region is home to shrimp, crabs, a myriad of fish, porpoises, endangered sea turtles and more. Because it is so full of life, we must make every effort to protect it from the wide array of dangers and circumstances that can negatively impact the region.

That's why we are so excited to see the effort to reopen Cedar Bayou is underway. The bayou was closed off more than three decades ago to protect the area from the catastrophic Ixtoc I oil spill near Campeche, Mexico. But now, when Texas is in the middle of a years-long drought, it is time to open the bayou and try to rebalance the region's salinity levels. The increased salinity in the area has resulted in a reduction in the shrimp and crab populations, which has a negative impact on the shrimping and fishing industry in our area.

Samples collected from Aransas Pass to south San Antonio Bay show a larger amount of wildlife is found in areas with a freshwater inlet. On top of that, a similar dredging project to open Packery Channel, an inlet at the southeast corner of Corpus Christi Bay, in 2005 showed improvement in the area's wildlife population within days. A similar effect is anticipated when the Cedar Bayou opening is completed in October.

The work is about a third of the way completed, even though the work has been only taking place during the daytime to help protect the endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle population during its nesting season. And as long as the project stays on schedule, the opening will coincide with the redfish spawning season in the fall.

We applaud all of the groups involved in this effort to reopen a crucial portion of the Texas Gulf Coast ecosystem. It was bulldozed shut decades ago to protect it from a man-made disaster, but now it's time to open it back up. This is not the first time dredging out the bayou has been attempted, but with the combined support of local residents and Aransas County, this effort stands a much better chance of success.

We look forward to seeing the results of a newly opened Cedar Bayou. The benefits associated with this effort are many. It's time to take a chance and move toward a better, more ecologically balanced future for the Gulf Coast.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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