Where River Meets Ocean01/21/2021 10:00AM ● By Jessie Monsivais
Located along the narrow stretch of coastline we call home, where the saltwater and freshwater mix, more than 70 percent of valuable natural economic resources are found. Aransas-Copano, Corpus Christi-Nueces, and upper Laguna Madre-Baffin Bay are the three major estuarine systems that encompass more than 3,200 species of plants and animals. To protect these bays and estuaries, scientists, business owners, and private citizens organized the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation (CBBF) in 1991. The CBBF is a public-interest organization that brings diverse interests together to achieve communal ecological and economic objectives.
One of those objectives being a federal designation for Corpus Christi and the surrounding bays as an “Estuary of National Significance.” This designation served as a catalyst for developing the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program and many other accomplishments, including the Coastal Bend Land Trust, various educational programs, and outreach events including free public information forums, Adopt-A-Beach clean-up, and Earth Day-Bay Day.
Coastal Bend Bays Foundation President Melissa Brewer says, “Once a month, we host a Coastal Issues Forum ... Citizens interested in what's going on in the area can hear from featured speakers what it is they're researching in the area and how that affects the community.”
Along with the forums, the annual Earth Day-Bay Day festival educates thousands of attendees on environmental stewardship. CBBF partners with more than 50 local businesses and groups to work in tandem and highlight new and innovative ways to enjoy and conserve nature.
Their efforts and events throughout the year collectively form a platform for community stakeholders to become informed, get involved, and share their opinions. CBBF's mission promotes awareness and inspires conservation for our coastal wildlife and environments. The Foundation conducts in-depth research to identify ecological solutions for local projects such as the Oso Outreach Project, Suter Park Erosion Plan, Pollywog Pond, and more. Every year, the CBBF bestows the Conservation and Environmental Stewardship Award to nominated individuals based on their significant contributions to different conservation efforts.
"We like to be involved out there and bring awareness to the community. Without a healthy environment, we're setting ourselves up to be unhealthy," Brewer says. "The foundational aspect of a healthy community is the environment in which we all live. Whether it's industrial or you're a teacher, we all live and work here, we are all interested in [sustainable] economic development. Taking care of our environment is the foundation for good health, a healthy environment, and a healthy community."
Contribute to a healthy environment and community by joining an Adopt-A-Beach clean-up event, or stay informed and support a great cause as a Coastal Bend Bays Foundation member. Starting at $15, membership includes a CBBF newsletter filled with upcoming events, speakers, forums, and more. Or give a tax-deductible donation to support future collaborations in building awareness and stewardship for our fresh and marine coastal environments.
Estuarine habitats are essential to our quality of life. They drive our Gulf, support thousands of plant and animal species, and serve millions of locals and tourists alike who enjoy fishing, bird watching, boating, and more.