Galveston Bay gets a ‘C’ health grade in new report

Houston Chronicle, August 12, 2015

GALVESTON – A first-ever report card on the health of Galveston Bay gives the waterway a “C” grade, warning that conditions will worsen unless steps are taken to continue restoration efforts.

In a report set for release Wednesday, the Houston Advanced Research Center and the Galveston Bay Foundation paint a picture of a bay that is under assault by pollution, loss of habitat and the impacts of climate change. The bay is holding its own, the authors say, but is destined to lose the gains it has made over the last 30 years if no further action is taken.

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Crabbing a fun way to connect with bays

Houston Chronicle, August 1, 2015

It was just a 4-foot piece of cheap string with a skinned chicken’s neck insecurely secured to one end with clumsy overhand knots fashioned by the unpracticed fingers of a 5-year-old. But it proved the conduit through which a connection was made to the coastal marine world that has lasted a lifetime.

It is a story that has been and, happily, continues to be repeated hundreds of thousands of times along the Texas coast and focuses on one of the most universally fascinating – and delicious – residents of the state’s bays: blue crabs.

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Despite Rains, Lake Release Limits Upheld

Texas Tribune, July 2, 2015

Despite recent wet weather, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality affirmed an emergency order Wednesday that extends limits on downstream releases from Lakes Travis and Buchanan.

The move comes in response to a request from the Lower Colorado River Authority and essentially cuts off water from the lakes to rice farmers and interests in the Gulf Coast, Lakeside and Pierce Ranch irrigation operations through Oct. 15 and as many as 60 days after. The affirmed order includes limited exceptions for the Garwood Irrigation Division.

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Supreme Court denies bid to reopen case of dead whooping cranes

Caller-Times, June 22, 2015

CORPUS CHRISTI – The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it has denied a petition to reopen a case involving the deaths of 23 endangered whooping cranes, according to Houston environmental attorney Jim Blackburn, who filed the petition as lead counsel in a lawsuit against the state over the deaths.

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Flooding brings destruction, rejuvenation

Houston Chronicle, June 20, 2015

Water and fire share the ability to almost simultaneously destroy and resurrect, a seemingly incongruous characteristic of these two opposing natural forces so rife with symbolism that the Bible makes good use of it. See: Genesis and Revelation. Or, in the case of water, look out the window of Stuart Marcus‘ office.

“Most of the time when I look out my window, I see grassland sloping down to the river-bottom forest,” Marcus, manager of the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, said of the view from refuge headquarters near Liberty. “Now, all I see is water.”

The Trinity River is flooding and has been for weeks. Swelled by a wetter-than-normal spring that over the past three weeks has included record-setting rainfall and the resulting trillions of gallons of runoff, the Trinity, from its headwaters near the Oklahoma border to its terminus in Trinity Bay, has distended to many times its normal size, spilling over its banks and swallowing hundreds of thousands of acres of adjacent land.

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Environmental Flow Battle on the Brazos

June 01, 2015

As Texas ebbs and flows between drought and flooding, one of the largest applications for a surface water right that the state has ever seen has been slowly progressing through the administrative legal system. As proposed by the Brazos River Authority (BRA) and TCEQ’s Executive Director, the permit does not come close to protecting environmental […]

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Eventually, flooding good for fish, anglers

Houston Chronicle, May 30, 2015

It should have been a busy day for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department coastal fisheries personnel conducting creel surveys at a boat ramp on the upper Texas coast. It was, after all, Memorial Day weekend, traditionally one of the biggest weekends of the year for boating and fishing, and the launch site is one of the most popular with saltwater anglers looking to plug in to the inshore fishery.

But instead of being swamped with work, asking a steady stream of returning anglers if they could interview them about their trip and count, measure and record their catches, the fisheries staffers oversaw an empty parking lot.

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State agency into buying water to leave in rivers

Aspen Journalism, May 2, 2015

Just one state agency has a mission that includes paying people to leave water in Colorado’s rivers for environmental reasons — and that can legally protect the flowing water — and that’s the Colorado Water Conservation Board, or CWCB.

However, the CWCB is also the state agency charged with planning for the state’s water supply, which is largely produced by taking water out of Colorado’s rivers.

And while the CWCB has, since 1973, created legal instream flow rights on 8,500 miles of streams and rivers and completed more than 20 voluntary water acquisitions, its instream flow program is not often positioned as the agency’s highest priority.

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Intrusive legacy

Houston Chronicle, April 17, 2015

Five years have passed since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster spilled more than 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Five years for the friends and families of 11 men who died that April day to accept their loss, as best they can. Five years for beaches, coastal marshes, and bird, wildlife and marine habitat to recover, as best they can, from the viscous deposits of oil and the massive tar mats that washed up on Gulf Coast shores in the days, months and years following the spill. Five years for local economies to recover, for thousands of men and women who made their living off the water to get back to work and their ways of life.

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