Volunteers with the Sea Turtle Science and Recovery Program at Padre Island National Seashore patrol the beaches every day searching for signs of Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Nests. This is one of many conservation efforts headed up by Dr. Donna Shaver, who has dedicated her life to saving the world's most endangered sea turtles.
However, the program will be taking a financial hit after the year 2025.
The base funding for the conservation efforts comes from the National Park Service, several grants and Deep Water Horizon Early Restoration Funding.
The Sea Turtle Science and Recovery Program started receiving funds in 2016 after the BP Oil Spill. Shaver says these funds will run dry in 2025.
"When that money is gone we will have a deficit of about six hundred thousand dollars," Shaver said, "and I am very concerned about how we are going to get that funding to fill that gap."
This money not only provides conservation efforts for North Padre Island and Upper Laguna Madre but aides the rest of the state with technical assistance and supplies. The funds also support the nesting program and the rescue of stranded turtles. And while they do receive some donations, Shaver says they do not even begin to cover these costs.
There were other funds Shaver had hoped to receive from the Deep Water Horizon Early Restoration funding. However, there is a difference in philosophy when it comes to nesting.
The agencies with jurisdiction to provide these funds "won't vote to give us funding until we get the vehicles off the beach and that's not possible, that's not going to happen." Shaver says.
Under the Texas Open Beaches Act, the public has the unrestricted right to drive on beaches. These agencies believe that the vehicles pose a threat to sea turtles and their nests.
Shaver explains that turtle patrols provide a balance between conservation and recreational access to beaches.
"Right now we are already stretching our money with the use of our wonderful, dedicated volunteers," she says.
The program has more than 100 volunteers.
"We have to live together, the turtles and the people and we can make it happen," Shaver said. "But it does take programs that are costly and hopefully we will find some solutions to fill that gap."
The Sea Turtle Science and Recovery Program is looking into other opportunities and partnerships to try and fill that gap so they can continue their work.