The Texas B.A.S.S. Nation has been given the Partners in Conservation Award for its outstanding contributions to drafting the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan.
The U.S. Department of the Interior presented the award “in recognition of outstanding conservation achievements attained through collaboration and partnership with others.”
In 2007, representatives from the Texas B.A.S.S. Nation joined other partners in an eight-year process to create a workable plan for the long-term protection and recovery of the Edwards Aquifer. The Texas B.A.S.S. Nation worked specifically on how to serve recreational users on the lower Guadalupe River.
“In Texas, water is more valuable than gold,” said Tim Cook, Texas B.A.S.S. Nation conservation director. “And, we had to represent a very diverse group of people.”
The Edwards Aquifer is the primary source of drinking water for more than 2 million people in south central Texas, as well as the home for eight endangered species that depend directly on the water in the aquifer.
“Our committee was formed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a result of court ordered action to force stakeholders to come together to try and find a solution to the lack of water in the Edwards Aquifer and protect endangered species that are currently found there,” Cook said.
Cook worked closely with the Texas B.A.S.S. Nation’s water policy coordinator, Carl Adkins, under the recreational steering committee.
“Any time you’re recognized for the work that you do, it’s a positive thing and a testament to volunteerism,” Cook said. “Our water policy coordinator Carl Adkins and I attended at least a hundred meetings that resulted in legislation and policy to help make sure there is enough water in central Texas for endangered species and all recreational users of the resource.”
For Adkins, it was an educational challenge that proved a great opportunity to look into the future of water quality in the area. With growth and demand being so excessive, he knew it was very important to be part of the solution.
“Even though we’re a bass fishing organization, our responsibilities didn’t stop with fishing. We had the awesome job of representing all recreational users on this water body,” Adkins said.
“The best way to give back to our sport is to get involved in conservation and youth initiatives. We all love to fish, but we need to take the time to make sure our resources are available for future generations.”
In 2013, the Edwards Aquifer Conservation Plan reached final approval by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service and will move forward with implementation.
“This accomplishment shows the B.A.S.S. Nation is not just about tournament fishing,” said Gene Gilliland, B.A.S.S. conservation director. “Their work benefits the resource and all sorts of recreational anglers.”
The partner organizations that were also honored for their work on the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan include the Edwards Aquifer Authority, the city of New Braunfels, the city of San Marcos, the city of San Antonio acting by and through its San Antonio Water System Board of Trustees, the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, Texas State University, Texas Park and Wildlife Department and the United States Fish and Wildlife Department.