WHY DOES BAFFIN BAY MATTER?
Baffin Bay is considered one of the jewels of the Texas coast because of its tremendous fishing and recreation potential, as well as its positive economic impact on the surrounding communities and the State of Texas. The bay system supports some of the highest recreational and commercial fishery landings in the State and contains critical habitat for migratory/resident birds and other wildlife.
The Baffin Bay watershed is primarily rural with ranching and row-crop agriculture as predominant activities and contains three tributaries: Petronila, San Fernando, & Los Olmos creeks. The rural lands of the Baffin Bay Watershed also play an important economic role within the State of Texas. Agricultural and ranch lands produce food and fiber (one of the most important industries within Texas), host diverse wildlife, and provide clean, abundant water.
WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS ABOUT THE HEALTH OF THE BAY?
Ongoing water quality degradation has been documented in Baffin Bay. For instance, Baffin Bay has experienced prolonged, dense blooms of brown tide, and more recently, a fish kill occurred in 2010 that coincided not only with hypoxia, but also with a dense algae bloom. It has since been discovered that Baffin Bay and its watershed streams exceed Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s screening levels for chlorophyll (a proxy for algal biomass), further evidence of nutrient pollution, and the streams are considered impaired for several water quality variables. Protection of water quality in Baffin Bay and its watershed is imperative for ensuring that this bay system can support a healthy fishery, thereby providing recreational opportunities and supporting the local, regional, and state economy.
WHAT IS BEING DONE TO ADDRESS ISSUES IN BAFFIN BAY?
Within Baffin Bay and its watershed, there are still ample areas where conservation and protection could be used to protect water and wildlife. Research is currently underway to identify land areas and practices in the watershed that could be targeted for improving water quality. There are numerous opportunities to work with landowners to improve management and stewardship practices within the watershed. In the bay itself, research is underway to understand vital habitats that should be the focus of future restoration or protection efforts.
Baffin Bay Stakeholder Group
Local stakeholders have a strong interest in protecting Baffin Bay and its watershed. In 2018, the Baffin Bay Stakeholder Group was formed to better understand the water quality issues in Baffin Bay and to develop collaborative solutions for addressing those issues. The Group is currently led and facilitated by representatives from the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program (CBBEP) and the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI), and it includes researchers, commercial and recreational fisherman, landowners, ranchers, business owners, representatives from state and local agencies, conservation organizations, and other interested stakeholders.
CBBEP and HRI are working to formalize the structure of the stakeholder group in order to effectively integrate input and prioritize implementation actions based upon technical merit and benefits to Baffin Bay. The proposed structure will also help promote a unified approach to seeking funding and create more coordinated communication and education. The Baffin Bay Stakeholder Group will now consist of a Management Committee as well as four subcommittees: (1) Citizens Advisory, (2) Watershed Restoration and Management, (3) Science and Technical Advisory, and (4) Local Governments. The Chairs of the subcommittees will serve on the Management Committee.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Do you want to get involved in efforts to protect Baffin Bay and its watershed? Consider joining one of the Baffin Bay Stakeholder Group Subcommittees listed below.
The Citizens Advisory Committee communicates citizen concerns about Baffin Bay, its watershed, scientific studies, and/or management, restoration, and protection activities, while also providing advice on public outreach/education activities. It will also help build a constituency to support the implementation of Baffin Bay restoration and protection efforts, and in collaboration with members of the Science & Technical Advisory Committee and the Watershed Restoration & Management Committee, will recommend implementation actions to the Management Committee to strengthen the restoration and protection of the Baffin Bay Watershed.
Watershed Restoration & Management
The Watershed Restoration & Management Committee will monitor and coordinate implementation actions of watershed restoration partners and report on these to the Management Committee. In collaboration with members of the Science & Technical Advisory Committee and Citizens Advisory Committee, it will recommend implementation actions to the Management Committee to strengthen the restoration and protection of the Baffin Bay Watershed. The Committee is comprised of engineers, scientists, landowners and representatives from non-profits, government agencies, academia, and industry.
Science & Technical Advisory
The Science and Technical Advisory Committee provides objective scientific and technical guidance to the Management Committee. In collaboration with members of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee, Watershed Restoration & Management Committee, and Local Governments Committee, it will also identify, track and report on any established environmental performance indicators/metrics to measure the success/impacts of implementation actions. The Committee is comprised of engineers, scientists, and representatives from non-profits, government agencies, academia, industry, and private organizations, which represent a cross section of individuals with diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise.
The Local Governments Committee communicates local government concerns about Baffin Bay, its watershed, scientific studies, and/or management, restoration, and protection activities to the Management Committee. It will also advise the Management Committee on how issues and actions might specifically pertain to county, city, or other governmental structures and/or their operations. The Committee is comprised of elected officials and/or staff within each county and city. If deemed necessary, joint meetings between the Citizens Advisory Committee and Local Governments Committee may be held.
Texas Riparian & Stream Ecosystem Workshop
November 6, 2019
Coastal Issues Forum
December 9, 2019
Soil Health Short Course
Water Quality and Fisheries Workshop
Green Infrastructure for Texas