COASTAL BEND GROUP
- EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
* Pat Suter 852-7938 Chairman
PHSUTER@aol.com * Randy Berryhill 883-0586 Vice Chairman * Judy Tor 241-2605 Treasurer * Dorothy McLaren 883-0435 Secretary
* Henry Berryhill 883-0586 Conservation
* Randy Berryhill 883-0586 Membership
* Ken Jobe 993-3737 Recycling
* Edith Cosgrove 241-2960 Air Quality
* Cheryl McGrath 883-9778 Web Master
OTHER MEETINGS YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN
DATE PLACE SUBJECT
||South Padre Island
Organized by the General Land Office.
|COASTAL ISSUES CONFERENCE
Call 852-7938 if you want more details.
|OCTOBER 27-28||Galveston, Tx.||GULF OF MEXICO PROGRAM
Call the above number if you want more details.
||Tule Lake||Bird trip led by Jo Bob Creglow to Polliwog Pond/Ph. 241-0422 for details.|
|Now thru Oct. 15||Botanical Gardens Gallery||Member Vaughn Westheimer Photography|
TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE WEEKEND PROGRAMS
BRAZOS BEND, NEEDVILLE Saturdays and Sundays, different program each weekend. Call for details 409-553-5101. Includes hikes, slide programs, lectures, etc.
KISKADEE BUS TOUR Mission Bus tour to some of the best birding hot spots in Texas. Bring a sack lunch, binoculars, bird book and comfortable shoes. 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.. Fees $25 per person. Call 956-519-6448 for reservations.
EL CANELO RANCH BUS TOUR Mission. Every other Wednesday. Fees, $40 per person. Call 956-519-6448 for reservations. This is the home of the Ferruginous Pigmy Owl.
Comments From The Chair
On October 12 the world's population will pass six billion people. This months' program will present the problems and challenges of this number of people and the future of Planet Earth.
REGULAR MEETING DATES FOR FALL ARE THE THIRD TUESDAY OF THE MONTH> OCT.19, NOV.16, DEC. 21. SO MARK YOUR CALENDAR
The Dead Zone in the Gulf of
A new Mississippi Riverwise Partnership has just been
formed to try to address the DEAD ZONE which has been developing in the Gulf of Mexico off
the mouth of the Mississippi for the past several summers. There are dead creatures at the
bottom and survivors fleeing the edges. The zone itself varies in size but meanders along
the coast of Louisiana towards Texas. The patch is oxygen depleted and is of grave concern
to marina owners and boat captains. Shrimp disappear as do crabs. This year the area
covers a patch the size of Connecticut.
The DEAD ZONE was first brought to the attention of the general public in 1990 by Nancy Rabalais, a former student and staffer at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute at Port Aransas. She is now stationed at the Louisiana University's Marine Consortium at Cocodrie, La. She monitors the extent of the zone from boats plying the area. She collects sediment samples and examples of oxygen starved animals.
Areas of low oxygen content in the water have appeared in various places before. But there is little historical evidence to show that such a large area existed off the coast of Louisiana until the eighties. Apparently the zone is created by the extensive nutrients brought down by the Mississippi River. Following the floods of 1993 the size of the dead zone doubled and it has not returned to "normal size" since then.
The DEAD ZONE has evolved from a curiosity to a colossus, a recurring environmental nightmare that just keeps getting larger. Many people believe that the major part of the problem comes from pollutants carried by the Mississippe River which drains over one- third of the United States. Runoff from farms also carries many fertilizers which trigger undesirable growth of algae which in turn uses up the available oxygen. Some believe that there is a connection to the loss of Louisiana's tidal wetlands, which are disappearing at the astonishing rate of 30 square miles per year due to erosion and channelization of the Mississippi.
The findings which Rabalais and other scientists are discovering will have consequences far beyond the Gulf. If specific upstream sources of pollutants such as farms are found to be partly responsible for the DEAD ZONE, there will be pressure to lessen their runoff...this could be costly. What is definite is the connection with nutrient load of the River.
The Gulf has become the end of the line for pollutants and nutrients produced thoughout the central United States. Dealing with the problem will require cooperation with these states, farmers, and industrial polluters. Alternative construction of wetlands along the river system might do the job without direct disruption of common farmer practices. The solution is not at hand yet and it may be a year or so before real suggestions are made.
In the meantime, the Mississippi Riverwise Partnership is working with governmental agencies, farming organizations and commercial fishermen to find solutions. They have held workshops and will launch an education campaign to raise public awareness of nitrogen pollution and its contribution to the low oxygen problem. The DEAD ZONE is threatening the biological diversity of rich estuary and offshore habitats. Like the hole in the ozone layer over the polar caps, the cumulative impact of recurring damage associated with the DEAD ZONE is undermining the life cycles that are the key to the Gulf of Mexico's food chain and reproductive processes.