Tag Archives: environment

Port Aransas City Council Votes New Harbor Island Ordinance

This evening, with almost a full house, the Port Aransas City Council voted 6/1 to adopt the new ordinance for zoning on Harbor Island. Two more readings of the proposed ordinance changes will be needed before the changes are final, so we are not out of the woods yet.

It should also be noted that even with the proposed changes to the ordinance, we as stewards should be careful to not fall asleep on this issue and remain vigilant in managing our lands and how it can be used. There are still some proposed industries for this land that could have adverse effects on the surrounding environment but for now we do not seem to have to worry about a refinery getting built.

 

Harbor Island Planning Zoning Commission

Great Step by Planning Zoning Commission today, and more great steps needed by the Port Aransas City Council at 5pm.

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Port Aransas Planning & Zoning Commissioners hearing from Port of Corpus Christi member Al Jones

The Port Aransas Planning & Zoning Commission met this afternoon at Port Aransas City Hall and after hearing open comment from its citizens decided to vote for approved and disapproved land uses. In all, approximately 50 people were in attendance, including local news station Kiii-TV 3 as well as a journalist from the Caller Times.

James King, who helped the Texas Land Conservancy acquire Shamrock Island, commented on behalf of all nature lovers out there and it was good to see another long time citizen of this area continuing their efforts to keep Port Aransas’ natural resources alive & beautiful. I hope to speak with him further to see what we can do about getting more sea grass areas designated as Walk, Push, Pole, or Troll areas. We need more of these too!

Back on track, two commentators in attendance are Port of Corpus Christi members and both expressed that they do not want a fractionator installed on Harbor Island either. They DID suggest that negotiations be made between Port Aransas, Port of CC, and Martin Midstream in order to find an agreeable solution and while this is certainly a compromise for the Port of CC, it seems to be only a small offer laid on the table as I am fairly certain the Martin Midstream isn’t in the business of building recreational and eco-tourism sites. Although, that wouldn’t be a bad way for a petroleum conglomerate to give back to nature in a way what it has taken from it.

So, I’ll leave it at that. A counter offer from a Port Aransas citizen to Martin Midstream. Make Harbor Island The Premier Eco-Tourism Center of Texas. Please.

Keep the hooks sharp,  Captain Ken Jones   361-500-2552
 

 

 

 

Harbor Island Town Meeting

Harbor Island Update as of November 21st, 2013

The city council meeting went well, and I was impressed with the showing of local citizens to make comment on the Harbor Island Refinery situation. The parking lot was full and last minute guests had to park a block away.

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City Hall meets re: Harbor Island

In a unanimous decision and a smart move towards better land use designation for Harbor Island, the city put a moratorium on issuing permits for this property which prevents the landowners from building anything. It’s the best move they could make at this time. The next step is for the city to go through the re-zoning process which can take 60-90 days normally with public notice given 3 times. But they also have to decide what type of land use the property will be re-zoned for such as tourist & recreational use, or residential use, etc… One citizen suggested using the property as a cruise ship terminal. My vote is for the land to be designated for tourist and recreational use which a lot of it is used for those reasons currently.

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Packed outside and inside

With the cruise ship idea I admit that I am not fond of the thought. Mostly because of the sizes of the ships, and imagine that in addition to the recent increase in oil industry marine traffic, it could be a catastrophic situation as well. Port Aransas is only a medium sized pass from the Gulf. It would be a tight fit to say the least.

Bigger underlying negative effects of such large ships (and its happening now) is that these massive ships cause an enormous amount of water displacement. In our area, tides are moderate but a single passing tanker ship can change the direction of the tides. It disrupts the natural ebbs and flows of the tides and the water exchange process is certainly influenced. These extreme underwater effects can cause natural vegetation to be uprooted, and even in specific places shoreline erosion is extreme and has to be abated by the installation of new bulkheads, rip-raps and other modern methods to prevent excessive erosion.

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Charlie’s Pasture already takes a beating from big commercial ships. This is a sinkhole that has formed behind the bulkhead.

Of course erosion naturally occurs but normally at a much slower pace, and as the habitat changes, the animals that live in it also adapt. If the change in habitat is too fast, then the animals that live there cannot adapt fast enough and they will either leave, or in some cases if they cannot leave the area quickly enough, the organisms can perish.

So we don’t necessarily want cruise ships in here too, We have already started to have more large commercial traffic now that Corpus Christi is exporting oil as well as importing oil. This move has made a noticeable increase in marine traffic in Port Aransas.

Additionally interrupted are the many runs of marine life that occurs in an inlet setting. These “runs” are where many species of baitfish and gamefish move between the nurseries, marshes, tidal wetlands and open Gulf through the Aransas Pass Jetties as a part of their natural life-cycles and feeding cycles. If any of you have observed large ships or barges running the inlets, channels or passes, you might also notice a flock of birds following the vessel.

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Warning Sign
Metaphorically & Literally

They are most certainly feeding on baitfish that is dislocated along its path or wounded from the turbulence and props. While this may seem like a minor consequence, but it is also proof that a large amount of water is being stirred up, from the very bottom of the channel where depths can reach 70ft, all the way to the surface over a wide area. This extreme exchange of water tables result in extremely differences in environment variables such as oxygen, temperatures and pressure. When the environment variables so drastically swing over short periods, it disrupts the natural flow of marine life in those areas. The marine life depends on a certain amount of water exchange, but too much is also detrimental to the ecosystems.

The Port of Corpus Christi undoubtedly wants to sell the 250 acres. It is up to the City of Port Aransas to determine what it can be used for because the property is within City Limits. Hopefully it will focus potential buyers from a better more eco-friendly industry such as tourism or maybe even the State of Texas will find good use for it as a park.

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South Bay Lakes & sloughs with matted floating widgeon grass where redfish were prowling.

Our city’s leaders are still faced with practicing good stewardship and principals of the resources here, and will determine the outcome and future for the Town of Port Aransas and its culture and community. Quite everything that Port Aransas currently has to offer to the people who live here and visit here is hanging in the balance of the re-zoning proposal.

Ideally, seeing this valuable land become an eco-park or similar would be certain reprieve from how the land has been treated and abused over the past history by other heavy industries. In the meantime lets enjoy our time fishing and digging shells around what we currently know as Harbor Island and hopefully one day we will see “Welcome” signs instead of “Keep OUT – DANGEROUS” signs.

Keeping the hooks sharp,Captain Ken Jones
Kenjo Fly Fishing Charters
Port Aransas, Texas

Harbor Island Crude Refinery

There has been a lot of talks about the sale of Harbor Island, not more than a hop skip and a jump across the Corpus Christi Ship Channel from the city of Port Aransas, which has a population of 3,400 wonderful people. Approximately 250 acres of land has been up for sale and Martin Midstream seemed to have won the bid. Until now…

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November 13, 2013 Caller Times newspaper article

It didn’t take long and a petition was started on Change.org . A website where not only locals can petition our officials but also gives the opportunity for the tourists who frequent Port Aransas  to join the petition. This web petition was started in order to request a change of the zoning for this area to a lighter zoning. It is currently zoned as “heavy industrial” and this designation opens the doors to many types of industries which are all known to cause serious harm to the environment.

Now, it is looks like the Port Commission backed out of the sale to turn Harbor Island into a crude oil refinery. That’s great news but the reasons cited for the Port backing out of the deal was because not everyone had a fair opportunity to bid on the sale of the ~250 acres. The City acquired the island some time ago from Exxon/Fina who used it as an oil tank farm and began a cleanup of the island. Don’t let this fool you, more action is needed.

TPWD Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail Webpage

TPWD Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail Webpage

Now, facing even heavier industrialization, Harbor Island is relatively clean to the spectators who drive the highway as they come to visit its many access points for recreational activities such as kayaking, birding, fishing, camping, and sea shell hunting. Texas’ first Kayaking Trail was established here, the Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trails.

Instead of turning it into an even bigger wasteland (and surrounding areas). Wouldn’t it would be nice if we could convince the city not only to eliminate the heavy industrial zoning but to also designate Harbor Island as an environmentally protected recreation area?

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Lighthouse Lake #5 Less than 2 miles from Harbor Island

Main feeding populations of fish reaching hundreds of thousands of fish, if not millions if species were combined, including bull redfish pushing 40″, use the surrounding waterways as feeding zones and congregating places. Thousands of highly migratory birds also roost in the many mangrove cays that make up the island and its surroundings. And that’s just a smidgeon of all the species of animals and plants that call Harbor Island home. Many species of crabs and other crustaceans also call these marine estuaries home. And, to top it all off, these estuaries serve as a nursery for many species of animals, where bait which spawn offshore come into these estuaries and use them from the time they are babies as a sanctuary in order to survive and grow.

A crude oil refinery would certainly ruin this place on land and in the water for at least a 20 mile radius not only from the smell but also from the increase in average water temperatures due to the refinery using the water to cool the plants engines. I wont go into details about what kind of pollutants this will add to the ground water (well water) and especially the saltwater. This would could entirely eliminate the great revenue that tourism in this area produces. That would be a waste of another, and in an already thriving industry, Tourism. Our local tourism industry had record numbers this year and is better to visit with all the wonderful people that come to visit, than to see  another city of amber lights billowing harmful pollutants into the very air we breathe.

If you asked what brings these kinds of levels of tourism, the number one answer is that Nature is drawing them. From the clean, oil and tar ball free beaches, to the jetties, piers, inlets, marinas and mangrove cays which provide these tourists the out of doors experience they are all seeking. Maybe its a break from the normalcy of living in the city, where grass and sand and in most cities, tree do not exist. Where there are few “wild things”, living, breathing, eating, just like you and I. There is always an aura about any small fishing village on an island, and that is usually one of peace, tranquility, and relaxation. That would be the true losses this place would suffer if heavy industry is allowed to build on Harbor Island. The longstanding Culture of Port Aransas would also suffer in my opinion, and it was the culture in the community along with the fabulous ecology of this area that brought us here in the first place. It would be difficult for me to continue living in this place with heavy industry pounding on my front door, on the fabulous Harbor Island.

As indicated on the Change.org petition site, the city of Port Aransas will be meeting at the end of this month regarding the zoning and will discuss it then. It is a good thing that the sale to Martin Midstream fell through as this shows that our officials may be hearing our voices.

With enough public reach through the petition and through the normal government channels provided, this treasure trove of an island can remain as the serene and ecological playground we all work so hard to enjoy whether you are a year-round resident or a visitor which calls this place their home away from home.

Youthfully optimistic, Capt Kenjo
Kenjo Fly Fishing Charters
Port Aransas, Texas

How to devalue Bluefin Tuna

Although the media has tried to put a positive mirror in front of the public, my favorite author on conservation, Carl Safina, gives us a view which really puts this into perspective and explains how the commercial fishing industry causes actual devaluation of fish species.

http://carlsafina.org/2012/01/09/bluefin-tuna-new-record-price-for-carcass-further-devaluates-the-fish-by-carl-safina/

Excerpt from Carl Safina’s blog: “…you see photos of the creature plastered with stickers and banners. The fish itself has long ceased to be a wild animal; it’s not even a carcass—it’s just a commodity, a product.” – Carl Sainfa