American General Project
The LLMF was formed in response to a comment made by State Senator Eddie Lucio at a public meeting sponsored by American General Insurance Company. Senator Lucio stated “Since there is no organized opposition to the development of the northern end of South Padre Island we will move ahead as planned” or words to those effect.
Soon thereafter the LLMF was formed with the help of Robert K. Minor and Richard Morrison III. For the next decade the LLMF worked with Senator Carlos Truan, the USFWS, the Nature Conservancy and many supporters to purchase this property and turn it over to USFWS, to become part of the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. We are very proud of the lead role the LLMF took in making this outcome a reality.
Dredging of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW)
After stopping American General project and while helping convey it to USFWS, the LLMF embarked on another monumental task. For fifty years the Army Corps of Engineers used the cheapest and most harmful method to “maintain” the Laguna Madre reach of the GIWW. The LLMF worked with many state and federal agencies for four years trying to convince the Corps to use environmentally friendlier methods that were readily available. They refused to change and so in the Spring of 1994 the LLMF formed the Seagrass Coalition. Its members included National Audubon Society, Frontera Audubon, Sierra National and its Lone Star Chapter, the Coastal Conservation Association, Sportsman Conservationists of Texas and the National Wildlife Federation. With their help, both financial and otherwise, we continued to pressure the Corps. After failing to gain their cooperation, the Coalition voted to sue the Corps in Federal Court in Brownsville in August of 1994. It should be noted that CCA and SCOT pulled out, not wishing to get involved in the litigation. We still are very appreciative of their support prior to and after the suit was ultimately settled in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In addition to a cash settlement that went to the Coalition's lawyers the Corps was forced to create an Interagency Coordination Team that changed the way dredging would be handled. Many thousands of acres of seagrass were saved by this effort.
Shrimp Farms Invade the Valley
At the same time we were fighting the Corps over dredging, we set out to improve the management practices of the Aquaculture industry. Through an aggressive public education campaign and through a partnership with Citizens to Save the Arroyo Colorado, we managed to not only improve the management practices, but we also forced the farms through legal action aimed at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to greatly reduce the amount of water these facilities discharge. The LLMF worked extensively with Pam Baker of Environmental Defense to accomplish our goals on this issue.
Blowing spoil dust
For many years the city of Port Mansfield was plagued by blowing dust coming from the upland spoil “containment” site located at the southeast corner of the town. For many years citizens complained to the Willacy County Navigation District in an effort to stop this unhealthy and troublesome problem. The LLMF worked with Denise Blanchard from U.S. Congressman Solomon Ortiz’s office and was successful in getting the Corps to install “snow” fencing within the upland site which significantly reduced this problem.
Killer Freeze Deepwater Closure Rule
Working with Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Dr. Larry McKinney beginning in 1991, the LLMF worked to bring about a TPWD “Rule” change that allowed for the closure of certain deepwater fish refuges such as the Port Mansfield Harbor in order to stop the wholesale slaughter of game fish, Spotted Seatrout in particular, that flee to these deepwater areas during prolonged “killer freezes”. Thousands of Spotted Seatrout and other fish will no doubt be saved whenever the next freeze visits the Texas coast.
Click Here to View the Thank You letter from Dr. Larry McKinney.
Regional Management Program (RMP)
Working again with Dr. McKinney, the LLMF worked very hard to institute a RMP for the Lower Laguna Madre. The Lower Laguna Madre is a very unique marine environment and deserves to be managed in a special way that recognizes the productive, yet fragile nature of the hyper-saline environment. The first phase will be the reduction of recreational limits on Spotted Seatrout from ten to five. Long term surveys and the associated science concluded there was a significant downward trend in trout populations in the Lower Laguna Madre. We will be watching quite closely to ensure this RMP has the desired effect and does not turn into another government program that regulates sportsmen unnecessarily. The over harvest of large female trout by croaker fishing seems to have been the reason TPWD acted at this time on this matter.
Education Days Conferences
Beginning in 1991 the LLMF has sponsored ten large scale public education conferences we named "Education Days." Depending on the issue of the year, the themes of these two day conferences have been varied and offered local citizens of the Rio Grande Valley an opportunity to ask questions and get the answers from the scientist and policy makers that ultimately are responsible for the health and well being of the Lower Laguna Madre and the surrounding communities. LLMF working with Texas Parks and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, The General Land Office, the Corps of Engineers and others.
One fine day a man named Dusty Rhodes from Abilene decided the people of Willacy County should live next to a huge regional landfill he was going to be kind enough to build. LLMF stepped up to the plate once again and played a significant supporting role in keeping Dusty's landfill from becoming a reality. This time the LLMF helped local ranchers, farmers, school districts and citizens all across the county. We helped financially as well as by providing crucial scientific information on how a landfill at the west end of the county could have a negative affect all the way to the Laguna Madre at its eastern limit. LLMF is very proud of the role it played.
Scientific Research Funding
The LLMF has provided thousands of hard dollars as well as in-kind dollars to numerous organizations and universities. A partial list follows:
U.T. Marine Science Institute, Port Aransas
U.T. Pan American
Texas A&M SeaGrant
Texas A&M College Station
San Perlita I.S.D
Rio Grande Valley Boy Scouts
The Peregine Fund
In addition LLMF has taken dozens (perhaps hundreds) of interested persons on tours of the Laguna Madre and Green Island who then donated thousands of dollars to National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy and other environmental groups.
Magazines, newspapers radio, television & videos
The LLMF has produced and distributed thousands of videos showcasing the living resources of the Lower Laguna Madre. We have also been in feature stories in Texas Monthly, National Audubon Magazine and Texas Shores to name a few. We have been featured in front page stories in virtually all major city newspapers as well as many, smaller publications. Copies of many of our videos are still available at a minimal cost.
We are currently the only organization willing to take on the powerful wind lobby.
Click Here for a list of the top ten reasons wind farms should not be built on the Texas coast.