VICTORIA ADVOCATE

Aransas Project claims TCEQ practices harmed whooping cranes

Mar 11, 2010 | Victoria Advocate by J.J. Velasquez | TAP In The News

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 1384

Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 700

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 707

Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 700

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /nfs/c02/h05/mnt/46206/domains/thearansasproject.org/html/wp-content/plugins/lightbox-plus/classes/shd.class.php on line 707

CORPUS CHRISTI – Four Texas Commission on Environmental Quality officials are being sued over whooping crane deaths and the state agency’s existing policy on water rights.

The highest death toll of endangered whooping cranes was recorded last winter, prompting an Aransas County environmental alliance to file suit Thursday in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

The Aransas Project, represented by attorney Jim Blackburn in the suit, was formed last year as a watchdog of freshwater flows in the Guadalupe River Basin. The group claims the Texas environmental agency mismanaged the water system and illegally harmed the birds.

“The whooping cranes are in trouble because the bays and estuaries are in trouble,” said Blackburn, adding he believes the state agency allows too much water to be removed from the bay system during drought conditions.

“The river has too many users and there needs to be a process for cutting back on those uses,” he added.

Blackburn said the birds are important to the ecosystem and have value beyond just their existence. Their health is emblematic of the health of the bays, he said.

Defendants in the suit include Bryan Shaw, chairman of the TCEQ; Buddy Garcia and Carlos Rubinstein, commissioners of the TCEQ; Mark Vickery, executive director of the TCEQ; and Al Segovia, South Texas watermaster.

“The effect of low freshwater inflows, due to drought, into San Antonio Bay on the whooping crane population is far from certain,” TCEQ spokeswoman Andrea Morrow said, adding that TCEQ staff is reviewing available studies on the whooping cranes.

“(The studies) indicate that there are a number of factors that affect the dominant food resources of the whooping crane, including freshwater inflows, salinity, tides and temperature,” she continued.

Though the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority is not included in the lawsuit, it is affected, said GBRA spokeswoman LaMarriol Smith.

Smith said it was unfortunate that The Aransas Project resorted to the lawsuit before the state could implement a recovery program for freshwater flows.

“It would have been better if they had given the state time to resolve its own issues before resorting to the lawsuit,” she said.

Read the entire article »