RGV Reef, an artificial reefing project to dramatically increase red snapper and other fish populations off South Padre Island, has gotten a big boost of its own from a major pipeline company.

At a May 31 ceremony at the Hilton Garden Inn on the Island, Friends of RGV Reef and the Texas A&M University Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies were presented with a $350,000 donation from Valley Crossing Pipeline LLC, a subsidiary of Enbridge Inc., which is nearing completion of a $1.5 billion natural gas pipeline running through the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Cameron County Precinct 1 Commissioner Sofia Benavides, who was among the many elected officials and local leaders attending the ceremony, was responsible for getting the two sides together.

“When Valley Crossing first came, probably about 18 months ago, they wanted me to know about what they were doing in the area, and also they were looking to give back to the community,” she said.

One day, VCP representatives happened to be in her office the same time as Friends of RGV Reef Vice President Daniel Bryant, Benavides said.

“It was perfect timing,” she said. “From then on we struck up a very good relationship, and this is the outcome.”

RGV Reef is 1,650 acres of self-sustaining, artificial reef composed of high, medium and low-relief elements designed to provide habitat for fish from the juvenile stage through adulthood. So far, it includes 4,000 tons of concrete materials of various sizes and two sunken vessels. The reef is located eight nautical miles off the coast and 14 nautical miles north of the Brazos Santiago Pass jetties.

By STEVE CLARK | Staff Writer