Presenter: Jim Sutherlin

Commission Agenda Item No. 15
Collaborative Wetland Restoration Projects on the Upper Texas Gulf Coast
November 2007

I. Executive Summary: This item presents an overview of the collaborative effort between the department and the various government, and corporate entities to restore and enhance coastal wetlands within the Lower Neches and J. D. Murphree WMAs.

II. Discussion: The Nelda Stark and Old River Units of the Lower Neches WMA in Orange County and the Salt Bayou Unit of the J. D. Murphree WMA in Jefferson County represent coastal marsh habitats where wetland habitat loss is documented as a result of over 100 years of coastal development for oil and gas, navigation, and industry. Recent efforts to address these habitat losses and restore coastal wetland habitat have resulted in several wetland projects to restore and enhance over 585 acres of coastal marsh. Funding for restoration work has been provided by outside partners.

The Bessie Heights Marsh Terracing Project (90 acres), Nelda Stark Unit, Lower Neches WMA was completed in November of 2002. Partners included the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees (NRDA), Coastal America (USFWS), Coastal Erosion Protection and Restoration Act (GLO) and TPWD. This project restored emergent marsh habitat and increased marsh edge in former marsh degraded to open water.

The Tom Jackson Marsh Restoration Project (70 acres), Nelda Stark Unit, Lower Neches WMA was sponsored by the Jefferson County Navigation District and completed in August of 2005 using maintenance dredge materials from the Neches River. Partners included the NRDA Trustees, the Galveston Corps of Engineers and the Jefferson County Navigation District. This project restored tidal marsh soil elevations to allow emergent marsh habitat to be established in former marsh degraded to open water.

The Pintail Flats Wetland Mitigation Project (240 acres), Salt Bayou Unit, J. D. Murphree WMA was completed in August of 2007 as wetland mitigation for wetland impacts associated with the development of the nearby Golden Pass LNG Regasification Facility. This Project restored soil elevations to create emergent marsh habitat.

The Old River Wetland Restoration Project (185 acres), Old River Unit, Lower Neches WMA will be completed in November of 2007. This Project will result in the restoration of approximately 185 acres of emergent marsh habitat and hydrologic flows in approximately 5,000 acres of tidal marshes. The Project is the responsibility of Chevron USA as a result of a U.S. Department of Justice settlement negotiated with NRDA Trustees. Other partners include the Orange County Drainage District, Orange County and TPWD.