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‘CCA Building Conservation’ Articles

Chapter pitches in with flounder hatchery

CCA NC recently presented a $1,500 check to support South Brunswick High School’s aquaculture program’s flounder hatchery. Local and state CCA NC representatives who presented the check toured the aquaculture facility and came away impressed with the long-term impact of the high school’s innovative program.

“CCA NC was interested in supporting this project because flounder are being over-fished — and also because, hopefully, one of the kids in front of you will turn out to be a marine biologist in a position to do something to ensure their future health and sustainability,” said Stephen Ammons, CCA NC executive director.

“Programs like this give kids the option of getting into aquaculture programs and working in those fisheries,” added Alton Raynor, president of the Cape Fear Chapter of CCA NC, which encompasses Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties. The school aquaculture department will use the money to buy the large amounts of salt needed during the flounder-hatching stage.

“Salt was the biggest thing on my wish-list,” Bey explained. “It’s our largest supply, and we have to buy it in 2,500-pound bags. We hatch our flounder in salt water for the first 120 days before transitioning them to freshwater ponds.”

One bag of salt, which Bey said costs about $1,700, can last the aquaculture program an entire year.

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Rogue Valley lends a hand

The Rogue Valley Chapter has partnered with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to help wild steelhead and salmon reach the upper reaches of Larson creek by manually bypassing them around a concrete culvert that blocks their passage. The upper portion of the creek is important rearing habitat for juvenile steelhead and Coho –some ESA listed – during winter freshets. Thanks to the work by CCA volunteers, fish can now reach this critical habitat. Similar projects are under consideration for two other area streams.

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Derelict nets in the Nooksack River

Derelict gill nets, or “ghost nets” are a well-documented problem in the Puget Sound, but this issue receives much less attention in our fresh water rivers. That’s starting to change. A group of CCA Washington members documented 62 derelict ghost nets in the Nooksack River, an important salmon and steelhead stream with imperiled fish runs.

The nets, littering the waterway and shoreline, cause untold damage to salmon, steelhead and other marine life. Net locations and photos were provided to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department along with a request to clean up the gear. Unfortunately, gill netting is still legal on the Nooksack River during limited seasons.

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Rebuilding Goose Island marsh

Dozens of CCA Texas volunteers from across the state recently spent a day transplanting marsh grass at the Goose Island State Park Marsh Restoration Project in Rockport. The project, coordinated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), is restoring more than 20 acres of saltwater marsh along the Lamar Peninsula that has been steadily eroding since the 1960s.

Park Manager Stormy Reeves and Project Coordinator Kay Jenkins began the day with an overview of the project and a Q&A session. Armed with a greater appreciation of the marsh and its importance, volunteers then went to work transplanting previously prepared plants.

“It was hard work but extremely gratifying,” said Aggieland Chapter President Sam Gaertner. “To have an opportunity to give back to the community and the resource is one of the primary reasons I am involved with CCA Texas. My fellow chapter members and I are extremely proud to be able to take part in such a worthwhile project.”

When all was said and done, the day was deemed a tremendous success. Approximately 1,860 plugs of grass were transplanted, covering three islands in the eastern part of the marsh. Further plantings will take place as conditions allow.

“The Goose Island team is grateful for the time and effort of the volunteers,” said Reeves. “Not only is it an educational experience and an opportunity to give back to the resource, the hours spent and the number of plants transplanted help in the grant matching process that help secure necessary funds for restoration projects such as this one.”

CCA Texas has contributed $25,000 to the project through the Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT) initiative.

“CCA Texas and HTFT are proud to be a part of this important project,” said HTFT Director John Blaha. “Not only does HTFT provide funding opportunities for these types of projects, but they are an excellent opportunity for CCA Texas volunteers to take a hands-on role in the restoration process of Texas’ coastal resources.”

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Orvis grant initiates oyster program

The Orvis Company of Manchester, Vermont, recently announced a grant award of $10,000 to CCA NH to initiate an oyster shell recycling program and bed restoration in Great Bay. This large estuarine system is fed by six significant rivers and a watershed of 44 communities in New Hampshire and 10 towns in Maine. The bay drains to the Atlantic through the very short Piscataqua River and the oyster bed acreage has declined precipitously. Around 1,000 acres of healthy oyster beds present in 1993 have dwindled to less than 100 acres. Filter-feeding oysters could filter the entire estuary in a few days, but now the filtering capacity is negligible. Siltation, overharvest, nutrient loading, storm-water runoff, disease, and excessive nitrogen are the reasons for their demise. Simultaneously, eelgrass has completely disappeared from portions of the ecosystem. These causes are slowly being addressed, but it is essential to maintain a stock of native oysters in the estuary.

The Orvis Oyster Project will reuse shell currently landfilled by the many regional seafood restaurants serving oysters purchased out of state. Larger volumes of shell may be available at regional oyster festivals in New England. Shell must be stored out of doors for three warm months at an existing site already established at the University of New Hampshire’s Kingman Farm. Collected shell will be used directly in the bay as substrate and in cultivation projects.

The recycling part of the program will involve selling the idea to all the area restauranteurs up and down the coast and scheduling weekly pickups. Robert’s Maine Grill of Kittery has jumped on board already, and we expect other restaurants to follow. Nick Lapointe of the Home Depot in Portsmouth has provided the five-gallon containers and Scott Eldredge of Eldredge Lumber in Kittery has helped out with the easy open lids. Volunteers will drive established routes, exchange empty containers for full ones, and drop the shell off at UNH.

The proposed project will build on the work and research of Dr. Ray Grizzle of the UNH Jackson Estuarine Lab and the cultivation project led by Ray Konisky of The Nature Conservancy. Residents raise oysters in cages suspended from piers until they can be transferred to new beds in the bay. Both individuals will be key to the success of the Orvis Oyster Project.

CCA NH is thrilled with this grant from Orvis. This is an opportunity to directly engage local businesses and indirectly engage the public. An informed public will ultimately influence policy-makers and hopefully alter our personal activities and behaviors.

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Oyster restoration sees gains at year’s end

As the year came to an end, CCA Maryland’s oyster restoration project saw its first transfer of adult-size oysters to a protected area in the Patuxent River watershed.

Volunteers moved approximately 50,000 adult oysters from two sites using a barge donated by American Boating Lifting. One portion of the oysters had been raised to adult size in floats at the St. Thomas Creek Oyster Ranch and another at piers of residents on Hellen Creek.

While adult oysters were being moved, CCA Maryland continued to distribute oyster spat and cages to local residents who hung them from their piers where they will grow.

“This year has been extremely productive in our project,” said McGuire, who also serves as president of the Patuxent River Chapter, which is leading the oyster project. “What is especially pleasing is that we have been able to educate numerous people through this project about the importance of clean water and the value of oysters in filtering water. More than 400 people, most of whom had not been CCA members until they joined the oyster project, became involved during the summer.”

CCA Maryland has consistently looked for partners in this project, involving two scout groups last year in addition to the homeowners, three aquaculturists, local businesses and the state government. CCA Maryland was accepted into Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Marylanders Grow Oysters program and distributed more spat than any other participant. It also benefited from a $25,000 grant from The Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Resources.

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Project enhances artificial reefs in Lake Pelto

CCA Louisiana and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enhanced two artificial reefs in Lake Pelto that will increase fisheries habitat while providing anglers with fishing opportunities within minutes of landings in Cocodrie and Dulac. The reefs were constructed of limestone, which provides hard-bottom habitat and are between one and two acres in size.

Bird Island Artificial Reef near Isle Denere was constructed in 2002 by CCA Louisiana, and Point Mast Artificial Reef near Wine Island was constructed by LDWF in 1985. Each of the sites will be rebuilt with 3,500 tons of limestone barged in from Kentucky to Lake Pelto, just off the coast of Terrebonne Parish.

Reef building materials were barged to the site and deployed by Bertucci Contractors at water depths averaging approximately 10 feet, providing bottom relief increases of 2 feet from current levels. Construction of the reef was initiated by a CCA Louisiana proposal to dedicate a portion of the Katrina recovery funds to repair damaged fisheries habitat. CCA Louisiana, LDWF, NOAA Office of Coast Survey, and T. Baker Smith of Houma partnered to complete this project.

CCA Louisiana President Gus Schram of Lake Charles said the reef project is an example of how private, public and non-profit organizations can work together for projects that bring about positive results.

“The artificial reefs CCA has helped build are big hits with fishermen,” said Schram. “These new close-to-shore reefs are very popular with many anglers who can now find good fishing opportunities without having to travel out long distances in larger boats.”

The location of the reef will be posted on the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries web site, www.wlf.state.la.us and at www.CCALouisiana.com.

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Oyster restoration

Over the next year, CCA Georgia will partner with both the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service (UGA-MAREX) and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division (GADNR-CR) to participate in two oyster restoration projects – the UGA-MAREX’s Fish America Foundation (FAF) project and GADNR-CR’s Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP) project.

In Georgia, 90 to 99 percent of the reefs that existed 100 years ago have disappeared, and the few that still remain are considered to be in poor condition. Realizing the possible devastating effects of this deterioration on area fisheries and marine resources, state board member and chairman emeritus John Duren worked closely with both the GADNR-CR and UGA-MAREX to help bring these projects to fruition.

After attending the Skidaway chapter banquet in May 2009, Dodie Sanders of UGA-MAREX contacted Duren about the Fish America Foundation project. CCA Georgia volunteers will work closely with UGA-MAREX to implement interactive public educational programs that examine the reliance of coastal Georgia’s fisheries on oyster reef communities as well as participate in restoration projects. Sanders hopes that this project will develop a lasting community partnership between CCA Georgia and UGA-MAREX.

The GADNR-CR’s Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership will create two new oyster reefs at Sapelo Island and expand another at Skidaway Island. Several oyster bagging events will take place in Brunswick and Skidaway Island late this winter through early spring.

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National wildlife refuge crab trap cleanup

In August, CCA members from around Central Florida gathered at Haulover Canal, on the edge of Mosquito Lagoon, to participate in the First Annual Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge Crab Trap Cleanup. Primarily focused on the Mosquito Lagoon area, the cleanup was made possible in part due to a recent change in the laws governing crab fishing. There are now rolling 10-day closures for crab fishing around the state. During these closures all legal, working traps must be removed from the waters of the specific region. The closures make it much easier to set up cleanup events, where any trap in the water is considered abandoned and subject to disposal.

Working with officials from the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Capt. Chris Peterson, CCA life member and owner of Hell’s Bay Boatworks, both sponsored and spearheaded the cleanup with the help of many volunteers and sponsors. CCA Florida would like to thank Capt. Chris and Wendi Peterson and the entire Hell’s Bay Boatworks team for their support of this project. We would also like to thank Stan Howarter and all of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge staff as well as the FWC and all of our sponsors; Hell’s Bay Boatworks, Mosquito Creek Outdoors, The Fly Fisherman, Coastal Angler Magazine, ESPN Outdoors, The National Wildlife Refuge Systems, United Waterfowlers – Florida, Merritt Island Wildlife Association, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services.

The importance of removing these “ghost traps” from our waters is twofold. First and foremost, these traps continue to catch and kill crabs and other marine life as long as they are in the water. This was evidenced by the many traps that were retrieved with dead crabs and other animals in them. Secondly, as anyone who has spent an hour or two unwinding yards of chicken wire out of their prop can tell you, these traps also pose a threat to navigation. Many of the traps recovered that day had no marker buoys attached and several had obviously been hit by an outboard motor. At the end of the day, with the efforts of all of the volunteers, we were able to remove 79 abandoned traps from our waters.

For more information about the crab season closures and how you can organize a crab trap cleanup in your area, visit www.myfwc.com or contact Dan Askin, CCA Florida general manager, at 321-663-2588.

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Fish Flinging

During mid-December members of the Southwest Washington Chapter, working with the Lower Columbia Fish Enhancement Group and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, participated in a series of nutrient enhancement events on the Washougal River. On Dec. 15, 23 volunteers from CCA Washington met at the Washougal River Salmon Hatchery to help spawn Coho salmon. On that date, more than 500 wild fish were passed above the hatchery to continue their upstream spawning migration, 300 pairs of Coho were spawned (offspring will be raised at the Washougal Hatchery) and 1,100 fish were held aside to be placed back into the watershed.
After their spawning cycle is complete, salmon naturally die and the nutrients from their flesh are a critical element to the survival of their offspring, not to mention a myriad of other plants, fish and wildlife. So on Dec. 19, more than 20 CCA Washington volunteers returned to the Washougal River, loaded up several hundred salmon carcasses and distributed them back into the Washougal River. Not only was it a fun couple of days but the chapter made positive steps in rebuilding our resource.
The chapter will be doing a follow-up event in early spring where thousands of frozen carcasses will be passed through a wood chipper to go back into the river.

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