CBBEP restores nesting habitats lost to Harvey

The Coastal Bend Bays and Estuary Program (CBBEP), a nonprofit organization in its 20th year of operation, is dedicated to protecting and restoring the health and productivity of local bays and estuaries. It works with local governments, conservation groups, teachers, students, and the public to raise awareness of natural surroundings.

After Hurricane Harvey, CBBEP Coastal Bird Program Director David Newstead formed a team to create a needs assessment of rookery islands from Texas’ southern border to San Antonio Bay. He then applied for and received a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to fund nesting platform construction, fire ant control, natural native vegetation installation, signage, and predator control.

Coastal nesting birds are federally protected year-round through the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It is also a state violation to get on islands during the nesting season, which runs from February through August.

Newstead’s team of avian biologists, including Lindsay Brown and Jimmy McAuley, put a plan into action last fall, starting with the Little Bay Cleanup in Rockport with Keep Aransas County Beautiful (KACB) in October.

KACB enlisted residents, local Mid-Coast Texas Master Naturalists, and even a Texas A&M - Kingsville student to build a rookery platform and propagate the existing cactus on the islands for ground nesting birds’ protection.

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