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PECAN ISLAND – On Tuesday, Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana’s REEF Louisiana Program, Shell and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) began construction on the Rawls Reef Complex, a new set of nearshore artificial reefs in Vermilion Blocks 119 & 124. The project is named in honor of well-known outdoorsman and conservationist, Jim Rawls.

Following a short dedication ceremony at Sea Trout Marina in Pecan Island, more than 50 of Rawls’ friends and family members, CCA volunteers and partners braved choppy seas to be on site as the largest of the recycled platforms was deployed in about 75 feet of water.

“This is amazing,” said Rawls’ daughter Kylee Rawls Courville, while watching the recycled platform being lowered into the gulf. “Our dad loved these waters, and spending time with friends and family fishing these spots. I know he’s looking down today with a smile on his face.”

CCA Louisiana and their partners are building 5 individual reef sites using pieces of decommissioned platforms and a variety of concrete “materials of opportunity.” The materials being deployed this week include recycled platform jackets, a helipad, a large concrete platform, and several highway barriers, catch basins and other concrete construction materials that were made available to CCA and approved for use on the project.

The reefs will replace lost habitat in depths ranging from 75-80 feet, where oil and gas platforms have been removed. The sites in VR 119 & 124 were chosen by local anglers since the platforms that once stood there were favorites for red snapper and mangrove snapper anglers, as well as divers. Each of the new reefs will sit roughly within the footprints of the old platforms and will be designed to optimize the water and bottom conditions with the hopes of creating the best possible fish habitat.

CCA Louisiana President John Walther was on hand at the event, and explained the importance of the new REEF Louisiana initiative.

“Marine reefs are some of the most abundant and productive habitat on the planet, and we lose that vital habitat every time a platform is removed,” he said. “At a time in Louisiana where we are losing so much habitat so quickly, it is critical that we do our part to replace as much as we can. That’s why we are out here today.”

Walther also talked about the efforts of all who worked together to make this happen.

“We’ve been working on this nearshore concept for years, but really gained momentum over the past year with the help of some incredible CCA volunteers and our partners at Wildlife and Fisheries,” said Walther. “Add in the commitment of a partner like Shell and local partners like DLS, Road Rock and others, it brings us to where we are today. This is a huge team effort, and it will pay benefits for generations of fish and anglers.”

LDWF Deputy Secretary Rob Shadoin attended the event and said that he and the Department were proud to participate in such an important effort.

“We are so pleased to partner with an organization like CCA and an industry leader like Shell to turn this vision into a reality,” said Shadoin. “I would also like to thank the Rawls family for allowing us to honor Mr. Jim in this way.”

Pam Rosen, Social Investment Manager for Shell, said that the company has a long-standing commitment to Louisiana’s coast, and projects like this one are a wonderful way to give back.

“Shell is dedicated to Louisiana and the communities across the coast. Our employees live, work and raise their families here, so it is only natural that we participate in critical habitat programs like this,” she said. “We would like to thank the Rawls family, CCA and all of the volunteers and partners who have made this possible, and for including Shell in the effort!”

Wildlife and Fisheries Commissioner Chad Courville (pictured), who is also the son-in-law of Mr. Rawls, was on hand for the dedication. He talked about how this project was special to him because of the man Jim Rawls was.

“One of the things I will always remember about Mr. Jim was his absolute commitment to excellence, both as a businessman and an outdoorsman,” said Courville. “It’s very fitting because this project is being completed by partners like CCA, Shell and others who are also obviously committed to excellence.”

Courville, who was one of the originators of the REEF Louisiana nearshore reefing concept, said this was a project he and Rawls had discussed shortly before Rawls passed away in August of 2018.

“Mr. Jim and I fished these spots for years, and when the platforms were removed, it was really disappointing to us all,” said Courville. “He asked me if I could talk to CCA to do something about all the platforms being removed, and so I did. At that point, the CCA REEF Louisiana Program was born, and barely a year later we are here dedicating this project in his honor. It’s just incredible the way this group get things done.”

This is the second CCA REEF Louisiana Project, and the 26th reef project by CCA Louisiana in recent years, representing more than $11 million in habitat creation. It will be CCA’s third reef project built on the site of removed oil and gas platforms. The first was the “Pickets Reef” complex in Ship Shoal Block 26 (built in 2014), one of the most popular and productive projects ever completed by CCA. The second was the Ted Beaullieu Sr. Artificial Reef Complex built in South Marsh Island Block 233 in June, 2019. Anglers have already reported speckled trout catches from the Beaullieu Reefs.

Funding for the Rawls Reefs comes from CCA Louisiana, Shell, CCA’s Building Conservation Trust and LDWF’s Artificial Reef Trust Fund, as well as individual gifts from CCA Louisiana REEF Club members. In-kind donations are being provided by DLS Energy, Road Rock Recycling, EMC Diving Services, Phoenix International Holdings and others.

Construction of the Rawls Reef Complex should take about two weeks. When construction is completed, CCA will publish GPS coordinates for each of the sites.

CCA’s REEF Louisiana Program is working on plans for additional reefs where platforms have been removed, including projects in Eugene Island Blocks 51 and 74, West Delta and hundreds of other sites across the Louisiana Coast. For more information about REEF Louisiana, please contact David at 225-952-9200.

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About CCA Louisiana

In its 36th year, CCA Louisiana is the largest marine resource conservation group of its kind in the state. With more than 30,000 members and volunteers in 30 local chapters, CCA has been active in state, national and international fisheries management issues since 1977. Visit www.CCALouisiana.com for more information.

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iles of shoreline along the Yadkin and South Yadkin Rivers in Davie, Davidson and Rowan counties. The Commission and Three Rivers Land Trust worked together to raise the 7.7 million dollars needed to make this purchase a reality. This collaborative effort brought federal, state, non-profit, family foundation partners and generous private donors together including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Restoration Program, N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF), Ducks Unlimited in association with Wrangler, N.C. Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Duke Energy, Nancy Stanback, Fred and Alice Stanback, Eddie Smith, Jr., and The Cannon Foundation.

This purchase took place pursuant to the 2007 Yadkin River Relicensing Settlement Agreement (RSA) in which Alcoa offered the State of North Carolina and/or Three Rivers Land Trust (formerly The Land Trust for Central North Carolina) the opportunity to purchase these lands for conservation purposes.

“Many of the parcels have been open to for hunting, fishing and wildlife-associated recreation as a part of our game lands program for more than 30 years,” stated Brian McRae, Land and Water Access Chief. “We are thrilled to permanently protect this land that provides high quality wildlife habitat, public recreational opportunities and protects water quality in the Yadkin River basin.”

“Conserving these lands along the Yadkin River was foremost in the minds of Land Trust founders going all the way back to 1995. Our staff and donors worked diligently towards this moment for the past 24 years” stated Travis Morehead, Executive Director, Three Rivers Land Trust. “We are proud to have helped NC WRC permanently conserve these lands for generations of North Carolinians to enjoy.”

“Protecting such a significant stretch of the Yadkin River will help maintain and improve the river’s water quality,” stated Walter Clark, Executive Director of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. “The combination of conserving the river for its environmental and recreational benefit fits perfectly with the Fund’s mission.”

While conserving this land is certainly a milestone that is worth celebrating, there is little time to rest and enjoy this monumental achievement. An additional 2,420 acres that are currently enrolled in the NCWRC Game Lands Program and span 31 miles of frontage along the eastern shore of the Tuckertown Reservoir is owned by Alcoa and also is subject to the Yadkin River RSA. The Commission and Three Rivers Land Trust have until September of 2021 to raise 8.5 million dollars needed to purchase these lands to ensure that they stay publicly accessible for the generations to come. If you are interested in supporting this project contact Commission Land Acquisition Manager Jessie Birckhead at 919-707-0066 or Three Rivers Land Trust Executive Director Travis Morehead at 704-647-0302.

About the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

Since 1947, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has been dedicated to the conservation and sustainability of the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use and public input. The Commission is the state regulatory agency responsible for the enforcement of fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws and provides programs and opportunities for wildlife-related educational, recreational and sporting activities.

Get N.C. Wildlife Update — news including season dates, bag limits, legislative updates and more — delivered free to your Inbox from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

About Three Rivers Land Trust

Three Rivers Land Trust works with private landowners and public agencies to conserve the most important natural, scenic, agricultural, and historic places in a 15-county region of the Piedmont and Sandhills. Since 1995, The Land Trust has worked to offer reasonable and attractive options to landowners who want to save their lands for future generations to enjoy. Our mission is to work thoughtfully and selectively with property owners to conserve our lands, vistas, and the essential nature of our region. For more information about Three Rivers Land Trust, please contact the Land Trust at 704-647-0302 or michael@threeriverslandtrust.org or visit their website at www.threeriverslandtrust.org.

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OTTAWA COUNTY, Ohio — Monday, Put-in-Bay Township Park District and The Conservation Fund announced the conservation of 4.4 acres of critical migratory bird habitat on Ohio’s Lake Erie Islands. The protection of this land, which is part of a larger conservation effort on the Islands, will ensure that some of the remaining forest and wetland ecosystems will remain intact and increase recreation opportunities for visitors.

“Put-in-Bay Township Park District has been privileged to work The Conservation Fund to acquire environmentally sensitive areas,” stated Kelly Faris, Chair of Put-in-Bay Township Park District. “It is important that these lands be protected for this generation and future generations. The Park District is dedicated to protecting and preserving these unique areas that sustain the heritage of the Lake Erie Islands.”

“Our goal to protect migratory bird habitat and the Lake Erie Islands is our top priority in Ohio,” said Peg Kohring, senior associate for conservation services at The Conservation Fund. “We’re happy to have worked with Put-in-Bay Township Park District to make this project possible.”

A popular recreational destination, the Lake Erie Islands and shores gather nearly 11 million visitors a year. The addition of protected land for the Put-in-Bay Township Park District will increase public access to the various ecosystems the Islands have to offer. The newly-protected land joins 13 adjacent acres and 44 nearby acres already protected by the Park District.

“The support from the Conservation Fund has allowed us to add additional acreage to our Middle Bass Island Wetland Forest Preserve that is now over 35 contiguous acres of island swamp providing habitat for migratory birds, amphibians, reptiles and other wildlife,” said Lisa Brohl, CEO of the Put-In-Bay Township Park District and Chair at Lake Erie Islands Conservancy. “Future residents and visitors will be so appreciative of the Fund’s assistance to preserve these forests.”

This conservation effort will also help protect the water quality of Lake Erie. The ground underneath the Lake Erie Islands is porous, so any pollution caused by development on these islands can easily reach the surrounding lake through this permeable rock.

It is also important to keep these lands protected for the large and diverse flocks of migratory birds that utilize the Islands during their spring migration. Each spring, millions of birds fly north to nest in the United States and Canada. Western Lake Erie, and particularly the Bass Islands, are important resting and feeding areas for their migratory journey. More than 110 species of bird have been documented on Middle Bass Island, including the black-and-white warbler, Tennessee warbler, and several other warbler species.

In addition, the 4.4 acres of preserved land are home to multiple species of amphibians and snakes, including the eastern fox snake and melanistic garter snake, both of which are Species of Concern in Ohio. The Lake Erie Islands also serve as a breeding area for migrating monarch butterflies, a species that’s endured significant population losses in recent decades.

These lands are being conserved, in part, by funding and technical assistance made available by TC Energy and its subsidiary Columbia Gas LLC in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ohio and The Conservation Fund. Additional funds were provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), implemented through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program. The Congressionally-authorized GLRI was created to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world.GLRI is funded annually by the U.S. Congress with strong leadership and support from Ohio’s U.S. Congressional delegation representing the Lake Erie Islands: U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman and U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur.

“Protecting Ohio’s Lake Erie Islands is critical for maintaining our local ecosystems,” said U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. “Securing this land increases migratory bird habitats and will ensure the Lake Erie Islands and coastline remain a premier destination for birders and outdoor recreation for generations to come.”

“I am pleased to see efforts to protect and improve wetlands and forests in and around Lake Erie that serve as habitat for many fish and wildlife populations,” saidU.S. Senator Rob Portman. “By protecting these ecosystems, we are also boosting tourism and the economy in the region. I will continue my efforts as co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force to provide federal resources to continue efforts to protect Lake Erie’s wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems, such as my GLRI Act and my Migratory Birds of the Americas Act, which was signed into law in March.”

“At TC Energy we understand the vital need to conserve, protect and restore habitat – both in the water and on land,” said Melissa Dettling, Principal in Environmental Permitting at TC Energy. “We’re proud to partner with The Conservation Fund, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ohio, and to support the Put-in-Bay Township Park District’s conservation efforts for local migratory bird habitats.”

About Put-In-Bay Township Park District

In 2006, the Common Pleas Court of Ottawa County, Ohio approved a petition to create the Put-in-Bay Township Park District as a local government entity. It was reaffirmed by the voters of the Bass Islands in 2008. Three Commissioners serve to manage and protect unique island habitats for the public to enjoy.

About Lake Erie Islands Conservancy

The Lake Erie Islands Conservancy was founded as part of the Black Swamp Conservancy in 2000, receiving their own non-profit status in 2015. The mission statement of the Conservancy is to encourage conservation and protection of natural and agricultural lands in the Lake Erie Islands for the benefit of this and future generations. www.lakeerieislandsconservancy.org

About The Conservation Fund

At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than eight million acres of land, including nearly 66,000 acres in Ohio. www.conservationfund.org

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LITTLE ROCK – Since the passage of Amendment 75, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has made it a priority to increase the amount of enforcement in every county of The Natural State. Each county has at least two officers assigned to patrol its woods and waters, and officers work together to target heavily used areas during certain times of the year. But with all these added men and women, the AGFC has only 180 wildlife officers when at full staff.

With only 180 wildlife officers to cover more than 3.4 million acres of hunting and fishing area in Arkansas, the deck may seem stacked in favor of poachers. Thanks to concerned sportsmen and sportswomen who care about Arkansas’s natural resources, the AGFC continues to make a strong statement to people who try to skirt the law and ignore wildlife regulations.

Anyone who witnesses a wildlife violation is encouraged to call the AGFC via telephone at 800-482-9262 to turn the violator in.

“We make a lot of cases thanks to tips from concerned citizens,” said Maj. Jason Parker with the AGFC. “Some of the contacts are even made by friends and family members of the people being reported.”

The AGFC’s radio room is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to receive calls about poaching. They can inform a local officer, who will get back in touch with the contact.

“We keep all sources anonymous if they wish, and we do offer rewards of up to $1,000 for information leading the arrest of some violators,” Parker said.

If someone doesn’t want to talk over the phone, they still can report a violation anonymously, using the AGFC’s Text a Tip service. To send the anonymous tip via text message, text “AGFC,” followed by the tip to TIP411 (847411). You will then receive a thank-you text acknowledging that the text has been received. CitizenObserver, the TIP411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before the AGFC receives the text so that the AGFC cannot identify the sender.

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