Photo by Daniel Salazar A bill filed by state Rep. Joe Deshotel may change how water land rights are handled.
Last week, just before the filing deadline, state Rep. Joe Deshotel filed House Bill 3335, a bill innocously described as "relating to the regulation of oyster resources." However, there's a lot more to HB 3335 than that. With this bill, the lease for a controversial project, viewed by supporters as an attempt to save the Texas oyster reefs and by opponents as a bid to control the bulk of the Texas oyster reefs, could become legal.
We're talking about Sustainable Texas Oyster Resource Management, commonly known as STORM.
STORM is the brainchild of Tracy Woody and his father-in-law Ben Nelson, the owners of Jeri's Seafood, a company that oysters from Smith Point, as we wrote in a feature story earlier this year. Back in early 2014, Woody and Nelson set up a separate company, Sustainable Texas Oyster Resource Management (aka STORM). Then they obtained a 30-year lease through the Chambers-Liberty Counties Navigation District for more than 23,000 acres of submerged land in Trinity and Galveston bays. And then, after they had secured the lease, Woody and Nelson started informing the other oystermen who held oyster reef leases in those waters that STORM now held the rights to that submerged land and the oyster reefs on it.More »