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As boaters, we love our waterways in Texas and Louisiana—they’re our stomping grounds. Whether our boats take us to a favorite fishing spot for those big reds or that secluded little beach for an afternoon with family and friends, our lives would never be the same without access to and the freedom found on the water. We may not realize it, but boaters are natural environmentalists. No one wants to anchor off that prized beach and find it covered in trash or discover that a secret fishing hole is devoid of fish. Luckily, boaters are becoming increasingly aware of the many issues that affect the health of their waters, and there are multitudes of ways for them to give back.

Perhaps the easiest method is to simply enroll as a member or “friend” of a nonprofit organization that seeks to restore and preserve favorite waterways and cruising grounds. These organizations’ dedicated teams of volunteers conduct water quality samples, plant marsh grasses, and fishermen assist in conducting fish surveys.

If giant nonprofits receive the most charitable donations, they may also tend to have the highest cost overhead and expenses to cover before your money is brought into direct action. However, throughout the Gulf Coast there are small organizations made up of volunteers—many might be your neighbors or friends at the marina—for whom $50 or $100 would go a long way to help preserve a favorite boating or fishing ground. Here are a few of our trusted organizations, but a simple Google search will help you find a nonprofit group dedicated to your favorite bay, lake or estuary. So log on and make that donation. Better yet, deliver some much-needed cash as you sign up for a few volunteer hours and have another excuse to get out on the water.

Coastal Conservation Association-Texas: Dedicated to the restoration of the once highly productive marine fisheries along the Texas Gulf Coast as well as her barrier islands, the CCA-Texas is a devoted division of the larger Coastal Conservation Association, which has been highly successful in their attempts at preserving and growing recreational and commercial fisheries. ccatexas.org

Gulf Restoration Network (Gulf Wide): Covering the health and preservation of the entire Gulf of Mexico, this organization and their efforts came into real prominence immediately following the BP oil spill off the Louisiana coast in 2010. While it’s a medium-sized organization, this group and their army of volunteers are very active throughout the Gulf Coast from the planting of marsh grasses to the restoration of barrier islands and the preservation of fishing grounds. healthygulf.org

Lower Laguna Madre Foundation: Dedicated to preserving the Laguna Madre that stretches nearly the entire southern Gulf Coast of Texas, the organization is a major advocate for preserving the recreational use, habitats and smart economic development along this incredible natural resource. lowerlagunamadrefoundation.com

By Harlen Leslie, Southern Boating Magazine March 2016