TCEQ Press Release
Photo by Bob Daemmrich

A Conroe multi-organizational coalition is being recognized with the state’s highest environmental honor, the 2013 Texas Environmental Excellence Award in the Civic/Community category. Lake Conroe Habitat Improvement Project Coalition will be one of 10 winners honored by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, at its annual banquet, to be held in Austin, May 1.

Formed in 2006, the coalition, which includes public and private organizations, local businesses, community residents, and government, began looking for a more holistic approach to not just invasive control but a balanced aquatic ecosystem. The group teamed up to manage invasive species while simultaneously expanding biodiversity through native plant introduction.

To control an early infestation of water hydrilla, a problem since the 1980’s, more than 250,000 grass carp were introduced. While the carp caused total removal of hydrilla, they also greatly reduced native vegetation. Natural die-off of the carp eventually led to reinfestation of invasive plants. Organizers, including individual members of angler associations, worked to build consensus in the community for restoration projects. Anglers with local fishing clubs, as well as conservation groups became some of the biggest proponents of restoration efforts at Lake Conroe.

Since 2010, the groups have restored five miles of shoreline at Lake Conroe through the addition of native plant colonies, contributing to an increase of fish and wildlife along the shoreline. Reefs designed to attract fish, which also prove to be fishing hot spots for anglers, have also been constructed to enhance current habitats and help stimulate higher fish production.