Extension Agent, Matagorda CountyMatagorda County
2200 7th St., 4th Floor
Bay City, Texas, 77414
Organization: Texas Sea Grant/Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service
Bill Balboa brings to Texas Sea Grant 23 years of experience with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's Coastal Fisheries Division, more than a decade of that in Matagorda Bay. One of his priorities is educating various stakeholders about freshwater inflow issues. In summers, he presents programs, often with an ice table and real fish, at the Austin Public Library about the Colorado River’s importance to the coastal ecosystem. “People are fascinated with live animals. I let them come up and touch the fish and ask questions,” Balboa says. He is working to expand the program to other communities along the Colorado River watershed as, he says. “People who live inland can think that water that goes into the Gulf is just wasted.”
Other outreach efforts include angler education and seafood cooking competitions. In 2015, he is partnering with TPWD to host their “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” program in Palacios. Participants will learn a variety of outdoor skills such as outdoor photography, fly fishing, kayaking and outdoor cooking.
Balboa assists with research at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi on oyster hatcheries and using hatchery-reared juveniles for oyster reef restoration. He also is part of a Nature Conservancy of Texas oyster restoration project; 57-acre Half Moon Reef is increasingly popular with recreational anglers. In cooperation with the Coastal Conservation Association, fishing guides, scientists and other Texas Sea Grant extension agents, Balboa will survey anglers to determine their use of the site and rate of success, collecting data that will be important for future restoration efforts. Balboa is also participating in development of a restoration master plan for Matagorda County and the bay.
Other areas of focus for Balboa include fisheries regulation and public perception of the sustainability of wild-caught Texas seafood. He also takes an information booth to local public events such as fairs and festivals to show consumers how Texas shrimpers work to protect the resource by following regulations on use of turtle excluder and bycatch reduction devices.