Dear editor:

I’ve been told that all these stores have to accept cash. It says on all our bills “legal tender for public and private debt”. We all need to fight this refusal to accept cash. So if a store refuses legal tender, does that mean they are giving you the products? Just saying! What do you think?

John Bridges

Dear editor,

When I first saw the apparently photo shopped view of the project going around, the thought “Rocks Ruin Rockport,” immediately passed as sort of a joke. Let me first say that, despite not living on the shoreline, I have a conflict of interest as a taxpayer and the future of Aransas County, which is losing an unusual coastal habitat, the trees of which were an important buffer during Harvey. Second, I have not seen the plans, but find it unusual that a Corps of Engineers permit application was allegedly not shown to affected landowners along with other responsible agencies. Similarly, having been a direct and indirect Corps of Engineers consultant both in Texas and Louisiana on and off for over two decades, it seems unusual that FEMA has the expertise and authority for such a project. According to their website–“Section 404 – Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The 404 funding is used to provide protection to undamaged parts of a facility or to prevent or reduce damages caused by future disasters.” A beach wasn’t a facility when I took oceanography.

My last major project 25 years ago was as an outside (the brief case expert from out of town) fisheries consultant on a Mississippi River/Lake Pontchartrain diversion project, part of a many times exponentially larger environmental/engineering problem than here. That whole system has had many transparent appeals and consideration for solutions to what some think is an intractable problem. Another more recent minor one was for an engineering company applying for a Nature Conservancy grant, oil company funded, “living shoreline” in Louisiana. Since I was very familiar with the area I asked where the oysters were, as suspected they were only at the end of where the pipeline intersected a canal, which might barely work, but the rest of the pipeline route was covered with luxuriant marsh in too low a salinity for oysters. My thought then was that the Nature Conservancy should have stayed out of bay waters. We didn’t get it as expected, as it was more of a “green” cosmetic project for the company. I have a lot more experience, but this is about facts.

It was stated in the Pilot article (18 July) that three locations were similar. Ransom Island is in Redfish Bay, Shamrock is an eroding island, perhaps affected by development, an original feature like Mud Island (called mud for a reason) in Aransas Bay, but don’t know where Grassy Island is. The breakwater is planned for an open bay beach (with submerged longshore bars), which seems relatively stable since 1720. The enclosed (the oldest known identifiable copy of the bay) is courtesy of the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris and shows a small oyster reef extending perpendicular to the shoreline North of Fulton, very much as it existed and was mapped in more recent times.

This well studied Texas shoreline information would presumably have been considered in this project. One of the earliest major ones was Project 51 of the American Petroleum Institute from 1951-1958, their final report showing a photo of Rockport submerged parallel sand bars typical of the beach of concern. It was run out of Rockport using a modified WWII PT boat. Since that time the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology and others have studied Texas shoreline historical changes and know where the main problems are. I traveled this whole coast at one time or another and this one is news to me, but that is a question for a geologist or an oceanographical engineer.

This beach is already a “living shoreline,” and will survive much abuse as we learned a half-century ago when pollution was a real serious problem. This was more recently rediscovered this century in a paper entitled the “Estuarine Paradox.” I worked as a graduate student on a project in Redfish Bay at the University of Texas Marine laboratory for the late H. T. Odum, often called the “Father of Ecological Engineering,” a controversial concept then and now. He was a good scientist, sometimes have wondered what he would think about many current projects. Changing a dynamic high-energy bay beach to mini-rocky, low energy marsh and grass beds will be an interesting ambitious experiment, but us old school types with a fair amount of sea experience tend to be skeptical.

H. Dickson Hoese, Ph.D.

Marine Biologist

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