Reef Building History
The Charlotte Harbor Reef Association is a 501-c-3 non profit corporation founded in 1996 by Jerry Jensen. The Association's current President is Michael Heller.
The stated goals of our group are to help improve fish habitat in and around Charlotte Harbor and to educate young anglers.
In 1996 the Reef Association began with a project to install small concrete reef balls under residential docks in Punta Gorda as artificial fish habitat.
In 1997 Charlotte County hired Rich Novak as the County Sea Grant agent with the University of Florida. Novak joined the Reef Association and we supported his work.
We partnered with Charlotte County and began building artificial reefs. They were made of poured concrete bases and reclaimed concrete culvert pipe. The Charlotte Harbor Reef Association supplied both working capital and manpower for this project.
The culvert sections were deployed at Mary's Reef. Additional, larger, reef balls were purchased and placed at the Alligator Creek Reef site in Charlotte Harbor.
With the Reef Association's help, Novak acquired, prepared, and sunk the old Palm Island Ferry as a reef structure outside of Stump Pass.
In 2000, when the Interstate-75 bridge across the Peace River was slated for replacement Novak struck a deal to get the entire old bridge (4 lanes, 2 miles long!) for 2 new artificial reef projects. The Reef Association helped with all phases of the deployment for two new reefs of immense size.
After Novak passed away, unexpectedly, in 2004, we were instrumental in having one of the two new reefs just completed named for him. The other reef had already been named for Jerry Trembly, one of the founding members of the Charlotte Harbor Reef Association.