After being sealed in the 1970s and decades of negative impacts from siltation and low water flows, an estimated $9.4M effort will be required to open Cedar Bayou and Vinson Slough.
This historic effort, which is slated to start on April 15, will create the vital connection from Mesquite and Aransas Bays to the Gulf of Mexico. With Aransas County kicking off the campaign in 2009, Coastal Conservation Association Texas initiated a new effort in 2012 with a $500,000 matching grant to help open these iconic and environmentally significant passes.
“This dream is finally becoming a reality,” said Aransas County Judge Burt Mills. “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 separates San Jose Island from Matagorda Island. Dredging efforts date back to the 1930s, but partial efforts, siltation and misplacement of spoil materials have eventually led to the pass and adjacent Vinson Slough being sealed.
“It is not often that there is an opportunity to reopen vital passes like these,” said Robby Byers, CCA Texas executive director. “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.”
Judge Mills signed the dredging permit for Cedar Bayou and Vinson Slough on August 3 of 2011. Although the pass has been dredged numerous times through history, this is the largest and most comprehensive effort slated to date.
“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. “Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is proud to be a partner with Aransas County, Coastal Conservation Association, and all the others who have worked so long to make this a reality.”
“Opening a pass between the Gulf and bay is never easy, and raising the funds to complete it can be even more daunting,” said Mark Ray, CCA Texas Chairman. “As the scope of the project and the associated costs have grown, every partner has stepped to the plate again and again to ensure we reach our goal. It is a great day for the Texas coast and the recreational anglers who enjoy our shared coastal resources.”