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Historic Story of Powderhorn Ranch Gets A Brand New Chapter By Kelly Gee

Archived in the category: General Info
Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 14 May 15 - 1 Comment

The proud old Powderhorn Ranch has an impressive history in our area. Many in POC have walked there, worked there, hunted there ( some even with permission…) and all of us have driven by wondering what was beyond the thick running live oak growth and high game fence beyond the gates that are so much a part of our usual drives in and out of our community. We have seen some animals we might have been unable to identify. All of us heard about a seemingly large price paid for its recent acquisition and likely wondered who pays for that. I had the opportunity to go inside those gates, see some of those animals up close and personally, and gain some answers to questions we have asked. It is a work in progress, so questions remain, but the future forecast for the Powderhorn Ranch is tremendously positive, and the intended face lift will be impressive. I for one am excited to learn about the history and the future story of this local treasure.

According to an article from Texas Monthly, February 2015, the ranch was purchased by Leroy G. Denman in 1936. He was the grandson of Capt. Richard King of King Ranch. Leroy stocked the ranch with 3000 Santa Gertrudis cattle, grazing up to 42,000 acres. He began selling some of the holding in late-1990’s, and a large chunk was purchased by billionaire Brad M. Kelley who was known to support environmental endeavors in 2008. The ranch was entirely owned by conservation minded Cumberland and Western Resources, LLC, when they agreed to sell below market value to ensure its permanent safekeeping. In 2014 the Powderhorn’s 17,350 acres were purchased by The Powderhorn Conservation Group for $37.7 million. This is the largest amount ever raised for a conservation land purchase in the state of Texas. The Powderhorn Conservation Group or PCG is made up of 4 strong organizations. The Nature Conservancy, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, The Conservation Fund and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation collaborated in the PCG purchase. Almost the entire purchase price will ultimately come from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, a $2.5 billion fund created with money BP and Transocean agreed to pay in plea agreements following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and resulting oil spill.
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Axis Deer, Sambar Deer and beautiful sunsets are daily sights on Powderhorn Ranch.

The PCG will transfer the title fully to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation by the end year 2016. The PCG has provided about 10 million in interim funding and protect and conserve the acquisition in the short-term. The Nature Conservancy will play a key role in restoring any areas that have been overgrazed or over-run with invasive species and will permanently hold a conservation easement. Ultimately, the Texas Parks and Wildlife will assume full ownership and operate an impressive State Park and Wildlife Management Area. The ranch is bounded on one side by Matagorda Bay and by Powderhorn Lake on another. This is a great opportunity for our coastal region. Larry Selzer, CEO of The Conservation Fund explained the rarity of such an undertaking. He said Powderhorn is “a unique and innovative collaboration among public and private organizations and has preserved a critical coastal landscape of epic size and scale for generations to come.”

PCG and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department management will develop a plan of restoration and administration that protects and increases wildlife, protected species, wetlands, marshes and other habitats. They plan to seek protection and conservation of additional acres and limit development and incursion that would impact the ecosystem.

Looking past the scientific, political and financial issues, there is a jewel-like wilderness area that will become available for all to enjoy. They have dubbed it ‘keep it wild,’ and plan high quality low impact outdoor recreation.
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Keeping it Wild’ should be easy with scenes like this marsh area and running live oak grove…
Abundant wildlife including Sambar deer, Axis Deer, native White Tail Deer, Rio Grande Turkey, red eared slider turtles, feral hogs, vast numbers of shorebirds, songbirds, quail, snakes, reptiles, insects, raptors, waterfowl, fish, a staggering array of plant life all make their home on the Powderhorn. With brackish water, salt marshes, fresh water inlets and tidal influence, there is an estuarine habitat for vast species. The opportunities are endless. This rich resource will allow for all kinds of recreation, education, sport, study, research and leisure. Camping families, curious students, avid sportsmen and gamesmen, serious scientific researchers and wildlife artists and hobbyists will all find space and sights to enjoy in and around the Powderhorn.

For example, Smithsonian Migratory Birding Center scientists have safely netted banded and studied more than 1800 migratory birds on the ranch in the last 60 days. Their data will provide valuable information for management of the area. The Friends of the Library hosted two benefit nature tours of the Powderhorn complete with wildlife spotting, bird watching and education, expert lecture and amateur sharing of the spring sights and sounds within the boundaries of the Powderhorn. Smithsonian research scientist and educator Sean McEaleny, Texas born and educated, shared his birding and wildlife expertise with the group touring on Friday, May 8th. Tennessee Warblers, Grey Catbirds and Yellow Billed Cuckoos were just some of the migratory birds seen up close and personal, while natives such as Spoon billed Roseate, Reddish Egrets and Tricolor Herons strutted and fed on the marshes and mud flats much to the group’s delight. Axis Deer, native to India, fed calmly on the ranch byways; and Asian native Sambar Deer have fully adapted to the salt marshes and flats as they fed in families and small groups during our visit.
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One of the Smithsonian scientists heads out with a ‘bird box’ and a stick to help raise and lower the nets. They check nets every 20 minutes or so for birds caught. They then return to the study station to gather and record the data.

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A Tennessee Warbler, about 2 yrs. old, was caught in the net at right by scientist Sean McEaleny. The birds are not hurt in this process.
Wade Harrell, US Fish and Wildlife Whooping Crane Coordinator, reported during the relaxing and delicious lunch at the historic and beautiful Powderhorn ranch house. Dr. Harrell had only good news as over 300 Whoopers were observed this year in the Aransas boundaries and the protected population continues to grow and spread. Some have even been observed outside the Aransas Refuge feeding and living in the POC and other nearby areas. Their future outlook is strong, and it is likely they will utilize areas of the conserved Powderhorn in the future.
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The original architecture and breathtaking views make the ranch house a gem worth preserving!
TNC Volunteers, Mid-Coast Chapter Texas Master Naturalists and POC locals Allan and Brigid Berger were our hosts for lunch. They not only provided a tasty and attractive lunch, but offered expertise about the wildlife and informed specifics about the ranch and its future plans. The buildings and structures on the ranch will need repair, updating and maintenance.

Recreational areas will need tp be designed and constructed. The new park and wildlife management area will require staffing and supervision. There is hope that schools and youth organizations will utilize and benefit from the planned park. Volunteer opportunities will be available, and that additional tourism will result. Some new jobs created with Texas Parks and Wildlife, and there will be an increase in people presence in the area. Conservation, planning and execution will be key to success! Hopefully there will be top tier advisors and experts, public input forums and meetings, careful evaluation of the ecological and economic impact, and enforceable controls and oversight. Then, this rare, beautiful and remarkable resource will be utilized and appreciated for generations to come. In the meantime, we can be proud of our state for their innovative collaboration to create the Powderhorn State Park. It will benefit our area immensely and we can be among the first and the closest to see and enjoy it.
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The May 8th tour group had a great time!

Shrimpfest! June 12 & 13

Archived in the category: Announcements, Events, General Info, Organizations
Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 14 May 15 - 0 Comments

35th Annual Shrimpfest on Seadrift’s Bayfront
June 12th & 13th, 2015

Gates Open 3pm Friday & 8am Saturday
Gate Fee $5 per Day – Kids under 6 FREE
(Must be accompanied by an adult)

Music by South Texas’ Best!
Friday Damon Curtis & the Nomads
Saturday Austin MeadeThe Emotions
Festival Events
•  5K Run/Walk
•  Kid’s Fishing Tournament (Grand Prize – ½ Day Guided Fishing Trip)
•  Kid’s Casting Contest
•  Volley Ball Tournament
•  Washer Tournament
•  Horseshoe Tournament
•  Shrimpfest Pageant (Ages 0 to 18)
•  Food & Craft Booths
•  Rides
•  Games
•  Decorated White Rubber Boot Contest
•  Golf Cart Scavenger Hunt
For information, call Seadrift Chamber of Commerce 361-237-0406

5th Annual 421 Slam Invitational Fishing Tournament presented by Wet Sounds 1st place team Burning Daylight pictured above. Holding cash and Wet Sounds sound system. From left to right: Brian Anders, Edwin Anders, Jeff Glueck, and Jim Anders.

5th Annual 421 Slam Invitational Fishing Tournament presented by Wet Sounds 1st place team Burning Daylight pictured above. Holding cash and Wet Sounds sound system. From left to right: Brian Anders, Edwin Anders, Jeff Glueck, and Jim Anders.

Port O’Connor, Texas – Twenty-five boats, with 4 person teams, participated in the 5th Annual 421 Slam Invitational Fishing Tournament presented by Wet Sounds on May 2nd, 2015, which raised $3,052.95 for the Port O’Connor Elementary School.

“We received the check and just want to thank you again for choosing us to be the recipient of the fishing tournament proceeds. Your generosity is appreciated and I can assure you that it will be put to good use, feeling blessed. We were thinking of tablets for instructional use in the classroom and/or looking into getting some type of ventilation in our gym. Our gym is used for many things; PE, Music, Exercise and we have no A.C., insulation, or ventilation. I know it would be a long-term project but would like to look into slowly starting the process of some improvements.” Tiffany O’Donnell – Principal, Port O’Connor Elementary School.

The tournament began on May 1st with a check-in meeting. The next day on May 2nd all teams started at 6:15 am for the chance to catch 4 trout, 2 reds, and 1 flounder…the “Texas Slam”. Eleven hours later the twenty-five teams started to weigh-in at 5 p.m. After the weigh-in, the tournament director presented cash and sponsor prizes to the top 4 teams and side pot cash/prizes that included; Red with most spots, trout closest to 4lbs, and big flounder.

After presenting awards the raffle and live auction started. This is when the fun begins and money raised for the Port O’Connor Elementary School. Without the great sponsors, anglers, and local community raising the $3,052.95 would not be possible.

The tournament sponsors donated $6,495 in product towards the raffle and live auction bringing the total sponsor donated products at $10,310, when combined with team prizes, for 2015. Sponsors include the following: Wet Sounds, POC Rod and Gun, Waterloo Rods, Fish Slick, Line Cutterz, Fins Fishing, EGO Fishing, D.O.A. Fishing, Lew’s, Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine, The Garten, GreenwoodKing Realty, Fishhide Sportswear, Tidal Surge Lures, Chicken Boy Lures, Baumann Propellers, Custom Marine Concepts, G-Spot Services, BoatU.S. – Tow Boat, Big Nasty Baits, ForEverlast, The Professor Products, and Sea Level Apparel.

“What a great opportunity for anglers to give back to the local Port O’Connor community, while doing something we truly enjoy and passionate about. The 421 Slam Board of Directors picked a great cause with the Port O’Connor Elementary School,” Jim Webber – 421 Slam Tournament Director.

The 421 Slam Board of Directors pays out 100% of the entry fees back to the anglers, that totaled $10,250 in cash and sponsors prizes valued at $3,815 from Wet Sounds, POC Rod and Gun, Waterloo Rods, and Fishhide Sportswear.

Looking forward to 2016 the 421 Slam is scheduled for Saturday, April 30th. “Due to the high demand to fish the tournament in 2015 a venue relocation is highly possible to accommodate additional teams. Ideally, partnering with the POC Crawfish Fest and Cook-Off would give us more space and raise more money thru the raffle and live auction. We are currently researching alternative locations in the Port O’Connor area.”

If you are interested in helping next year or becoming a sponsor, please feel free to email Jim Webber at the following email address, jim@421slam.com. To learn more about the tournament visit the web page at www.421slam.com or checkout the Facebook page at 421 Slam Invitational Fishing Tournament.

Congratulations to the following teams…
1st Place – Team Burning Daylight
2nd Place – Team Wet Sounds
3rd Place – Team Jokers Wild
4th Place – Grande En El Pescado
Red Side Pot – Team Goyen
Trout Side Pot – Team Scratch N Sniff
Big Flounder – Team Fishhide Sportswear

Seadrift School Athletes of the Year

Archived in the category: Announcements, General Info, School News
Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 14 May 15 - 0 Comments
Enrique Torres and Anna Sachtleben were named Athletes ot the Year at Seadrift School’s annual Blue & Gold Banquet April 28. Shown here are two of their coaches, Coach Anderson and Coach Lillge.

Enrique Torres and Anna Sachtleben were named Athletes ot the Year at Seadrift School’s annual Blue & Gold Banquet April 28. Shown here are two of their coaches, Coach Anderson and Coach Lillge.

Always prepared to hit the water in case of emergency, this boat sits just outside the watch commander’s window.

Always prepared to hit the water in case of emergency, this boat sits just outside the watch commander’s window.

I recently had the great privilege of meeting one of our local ‘defenders of freedom’ at the POC Coast Guard Station. Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Hernandez is currently serving in the Coast Guard (CG) Reserves. This unassuming young father of two served 9 and ½ years active duty. He served on a cutter with lengthy patrols at sea in the northern Atlantic states and later was stationed more than 4 years at the POC station. When he joined the reserves, he completed a Criminal Justice Degree utilizing his GI Bill benefits, and works for the USAA Insurance Group, an agency tasked with serving vets and active duty military home and auto insurance needs. He joined the smallest branch of our military after fishing with his grandpa in POC and admiring the Coast Guard (CG) Station and its members. Born and raised in Texas, he found the Cape Maine, New Jersey weather not to his liking during Basic Training, and was happy to be ‘home’ when was assigned to POC CG.

Usual duty assignment to POC is 3-4 years, and most like the assignment. The small town can make it a challenge for housing, social opportunities and other logistics. The guy to girl ratio in the CG is about 5:1. All recruits go to the New Jersey location for Basic, and may go to Connecticut for further training. POC CG has 40-50 full time assigned guardsmen and women at any given time. They work rotating shifts of 2 days on and 2 off. Many live in nearby or even more distant larger cities, and travel to POC for duty days. They have annual assignment transfers in June for higher ranking CG, but new recruits arrive as assigned.

They stand watch, meaning literally standing and watching over our coastal area, from an impressively technology equipped watch room at the station on a rotating 24/7 schedule 365 days a year. You can rest assured that someone is watching, always. Even as the crew took a break for ‘chow time’ the assigned watch stander stood in the watch room on duty and vigilant to their job. When their shift ends, a fresh ‘watcher’ will arrive ready for duty.

The station participates in tactical training every Tuesday and Thursday and periodic weekends and special training opportunities. The station has two cooks, but the assigned crew is responsible for their own housekeeping, upkeep and maintenance of boats, station, dorm areas, and gear and other. The CG Station is on Federal Property where it was rebuilt after the hurricane destroyed the old station. As Federal Property, it is not supposed to be photographed, but Boatswain Mate Matt Hernandez graciously got permission for me to take pictures on my recent tour, and assured me I was not compromising CG security by doing so.

They have six total boats, some as long as 29 ft. and able to travel up to 60 mph. they are tasked with enforcing Federal Maritime Law, providing search and rescue if needed, answering distress calls on internationally recognized emergency channel 16, supporting the Parks and Wildlife State enforcement of law, offering safety and education to the boating public, providing rescue and recovery services to watercraft of all sizes. They only interact with our many tugs and barges in case of emergency or requested assistance. These crew members volunteer in our community regularly above and beyond their assigned CG duties. They train in all kinds of weather and have helicopter support out of Corpus Christi if needed. Off shore cutters can be called to assist in case of major emergencies.

The POC Station guards up to two miles outside San Antonio Bay, Matagorda Bay, areas all the way to the Matagorda Locks, and up to 50 miles offshore. All CG crew are Basic First Aid and rescue trained and when on patrol have EMT personnel with them. The CG will safety inspect personal craft at the CG station by appointment, but it is not required.

There is a second division of CG housed next door that is strictly a Navigational Maintenance Team. They monitor and maintain the buoys, lights, beepers and markers in the ICW 24/7. They observe electronically and check, monitor and repair hands on regularly. They replace buoys and beepers dislodged by freighters and barges.

The Coast Guard may be underappreciated for all they do. They have fewer international patrols and see fewer injuries and international incidents because they are the smallest branch and fewer of them serve on land than water. It is a great career choice, with many serving 20 and even 30 years before a decorated retirement. Tuition assistance and college credit while serving is common for guardsmen. While the closest large CG recruiting station is in Corpus Christi, most school counselors have information and all CG members would happily talk with interested parties about opportunities in the CG.

Next time you see some of our hometown Coast Guard Crew in and around town, tell them Thank You for a job well done! They deserve it!

Matthew J. Hernandez, Petty Officer First Class was an excellent guide for my visit to the Coast Guard Station.

Matthew J. Hernandez, Petty Officer First Class was an excellent guide for my visit to the Coast Guard Station.

 

The Port O’Connor Coast Guard Station is federal property, accessible only with permission or by appointment. There is an intercom at this gate.

The Port O’Connor Coast Guard Station is federal property, accessible only with permission or by appointment. There is an intercom at this gate.

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