Aquatic Services Director Keith Kolasa presented a ceremonial check for $11,000 to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) at the June 14, 2022 meeting. The donation came from a partnership between Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), Restoring Ecosystems, and Coastal Habitat, Inc.
The funds will be used to expand the Bendickson Reef, approximately 20 miles offshore. It provides a habitat for aquatic life and is an attraction for fishermen and divers. Smaller projects will be creating reef linkages between the already established reefs. This will allow for divers to explore the reefs continually, rather than re-boating and moving to another reef.
The $11,000 donation bolsters the current Operating Supplies budget to a total of $12,400.
Troy Smith, president of the Hernando County chapter of the CCA with Zach Bentley of the Orlando chapter presented the check. Smith reported that locally, membership has increased from approximately 300 to 500 in the last 5 years. He also reported 42 corporate sponsors at their 34th Annual Banquet, up from single digits in previous years.
CCA was established in the 1970s to represent the rights of recreational fishermen.
“We’re really fortunate to see people showing up to these [CCA] events,” Smith said. “They spend their money, they have a great time, and from that, we’ve profited.”
Smith said that CCA’s vision for the county is to formalize a relationship with the county so that they may identify “squeaky wheels” that need attention with respect to waterways, and possibly be involved in advanced planning, and supplement projects currently in progress. County Administrator Jeff Rogers expressed approval of this relationship.
In the coming year, CCA plans to partner with SeaGRANT for an unspecified project at Jenkins Creek.