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2011-06-23 digital edition

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2011-06-23 / General Stories

Marsh Restoration Project For West Galveston Bay Wetlands

Adding to an already impressive list of offshore artificial reefing and habitat restoration projects, the CCA Texas Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT) program has announced it is funding $50,000 toward an ambitious marsh restoration project in West Galveston Bay. CCA Texas is joining with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Phase I of the Bird Island Cove project, which will deploy 4,400 linear feet of geo-textile tubing and directly restore almost 57 acres of marsh habitat in West Galveston Bay.

The Galveston Bay complex has experienced greater wetlands loss than almost anywhere else in the state. Between 1950 and 1985, the system lost an estimated 20 percent of its wetlands and 70 percent of its seagrass. Based on historical information, most of the damage has occurred in West Galveston Bay and recent aerial research indicates that marsh habitat continues to disappear at a rapid rate.

“These habitats are at the very core of a healthy marine system and it is critical to not only stop losing wetlands, but also start to rebuild them where they have disappeared,” said Robby Byers, executive director of CCA Texas. “This type of restoration project is essential if we are going to continue to enjoy the incredible marine resources we have in this state. CCA members see this as a direct means of giving something back to the resource and ensuring a healthy future for all types of marine life.”

Phase I of the project has an estimated cost of $1.3 million and the $50,000 from CCA Texas will be leveraged for up to three times that amount in matching grant dollars. The geo-textile tubes will act as a breakwater to set the stage for the restoration of intertidal marsh complex. Dredge material will then be pumped into the protected area to raise the elevation and create different types of habitat, including salt flats and salt marsh. When fully completed, the project is expected to benefit almost 250 acres of intertidal marsh habitat that will be used by all types of fish, birds and shellfish.

“There is a considerable amount of engineering and construction that goes into a project like this, but the method has a proven track record of success in previous projects,” said Byers. “We are committed to turning the tide on habitat loss there and restoring it to its full potential.”

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