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Affiliate of the Month: Keep Aransas County Beautiful - Hurricane Harvey Silver Linings Playbook

We at Keep Aransas County Beautiful are humbled and honored to be chosen for as the Affiliate of the Month this May, as we know there are many great groups in Texas that have been around a long time that are certainly very well deserving. 

As many may or may not know, Aransas County is now known as hurricane Harvey ground zero. When a community finds itself needing to evacuate because it knows it's about to get hit and the impending return back, one certainly expects to come home and see power lines down and homes and businesses destroyed. But, to see all the trees and plants stripped of all their leaves, hummingbirds desperately looking for nectar, metal debris piled up in the bays and wetlands, our coastal birds missing for days was a whole other shock in itself. The entire county was left feeling emotionally numb for weeks. For us citizens, it took months before we could even think outside of our own lives, as we juggled home insurance, contractors, some looking for work and places to live. Many were displaced and even now, 500 students have still not returned to our school district.

Last April, after waiting for the government for 7 months to clean up the slew of hurricane trash, local skimmer boat captain Tommy Moore took matters into his own hands. With one Facebook post, he invited everyone to come out to Little Bay that weekend to pick up metal debris, a recliner, cassette tapes, porta cans, power poles and more. The turnout was fantastic. Everyone was excited and felt empowered. And it felt like a "take control, take that Harvey" action we all really needed and things shifted.

We've found that with destruction comes lots of silver linings and new beginnings. For our county, there is renewed openness in looking for meaningful partnerships to get the job done. Aransas County is still in need of the "feel good stories" that our citizens can hear, see and be a part of to inspire us to keep up the long work of recovery.

As KACB started navigating our way post Harvey, we found that in order to be impactful and get Aransas County back to where it needed to be, we would have to work to build trust with local and state governing authorities with good planning and follow through. We needed to take the time to gain advice from industry experts, and, most importantly work to form meaningful partnerships with our other local conservation agencies like Mission Aransas and Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program (CBBEP), our Mid-Coast Texas Master Naturalists, Texas Game Wardens, Wings Rescue Center and more. We learned to not be afraid to ask for help because many area companies wanted to be a part of the narrative of impactful recovery and were unsure how to get involved. Our local lumber company, Builders First Source has been super busy since the storm - they jumped at the chance to donate all the lumber and materials that CBBEP needed to rebuild the 50 Blue Heron rookery platforms lost as we partnered with CBBEP restore in our Aransas bays; Dawson recycling came on board to help us cleanup the debris out of Cove Harbor and not take it to the landfill; local airboat fishing guides partnered with Game Wardens to pull the debris from the same area and the restaurant that overlooks the wetlands fed everyone lunch. 

KACB's 2018 by the numbers

  • 18 tons of debris removed from waterways
  • 8 tons of debris removed from roadways
  • 5 tons of metal recycled from Cove Harbor instead of being sent to landfill
  • 2,502 man-hours by volunteers
  • KTB values KACB's man hour services at $61,774.38 to the county

2019 Moving Forward in Recovery

We've now moved from strictly cleanup to fun re-greening and beautification projects. KACB restored the areas damaged entrance monuments installing native plantings that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds. And, we are on the lookout for unique ideas. For example, at our local post office, we are teaming up with local Master Gardeners and our 4-H to install an all native discovery garden teaching the benefits of native plantings but also installing a cigarette butt disposal container to educate on the harmful impact of throwing away cigarettes improperly. 

Greening and Beatification

With the help from our 2019 Governors Community Achievement Grant with KTB and TxDOT, we are eager to restore our roadways and install litter prevention signage. This summer we are ramping up efforts to getting our famous Big Blue Crab rebuilt. We'll always do two cleanups each fall and spring – one on land with KTB and one in our coastal waterways with Texas Adopt a Beach Program

Education 

We've initiated a Summer Youth Program allowing students who participate in conservation activities to qualify for a pizza party to celebrate. We will continue to work with our National Park Service in not only educating about debris impact on our federally Protected Sea Turtles and Coastal Birds, but also getting involved in their rescue. We intend to try and keep up these meaningful partnerships getting advice as we move forward in planning. We want to make this a win for each other but even more a win for our beloved waters, birds, lands and the like.

Again, on behalf of Keep Aransas County Beautiful and all of Aransas County, we with to thank Keep Texas Beautiful for this honor. We hope we continue to do you proud. 

Lastly, we are now forming Eco-Tourism opportunities! We'd like to invite you to come up to Aransas County for a fun weekend, that includes a KACB project on a Saturday morning! If you are interested, please email us or like us on Facebook This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To make a donation to our efforts or the Blue Crab please visit www.kacbtx.org

​Blog Post Written By D'Ann Williams, Keep Aransas County Beautiful President. 

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