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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2017-08-03                                    |
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Aug. 3, 2017
San Jacinto Marsh Restoration Receives Environmental Excellence Award for Navigational Dredging
LA PORTE-- The marsh restoration work done last year at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site is being recognized with the 2017 Environmental Excellence Award for Navigational Dredging by the Western Dredging Association (WEDA). WEDA is one of three members of the World Organization of Dredging Associations and covers projects done in the North, Central and South American territories.
Work done at San Jacinto helped to restore the appearance of the San Jacinto battleground to what it would have looked like in 1836 when Texas won its independence from Mexico. The dredging project focused on repairing portions of a 350-acre marsh to create new intertidal habitat instrumental to native marsh grass growth.
"Like so many other examples of great conservation work, this project involved several different contributing partners," said Director of Texas State Parks Brent Leisure. "Not only does the project have wonderful ecological benefits, but the restored setting will help all visitors to have a greater appreciation for how this natural landscape contributed to the events in 1836. We are exceedingly pleased with how the project is turning out."
This project was an unusual alignment of goals and organizations that ranged from improving a historical site and habitat to involving the work of industrial companies.
The project team that completed the work included the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD); dredging engineer of record, Atkins; Weeks Marine; Enterprise Products, LLC; the Texas Historical Commission and the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District.
"Much of the Houston area has sunk due to past groundwater pumping, and portions of the San Jacinto Battleground were lost below the tide," said TPWD natural resource specialist Andy Sipocz. "This project raised the ground enough to restore marsh to the Boggy Bayou portion of the battleground so it once again looks similar to what those who fought in the 1836 Battle for Texas Independence saw."
The San Jacinto marsh landscape played a key role in Texas' victory and bringing the area back to what it looked like offers visitors better understanding of the constraints faced by the opposing forces during the conflict and the melee afterward as Mexican forces attempted to flee from the Texian army.
The newly restored marsh also provides increased habitat for birds, small mammals and marine species such as shrimp larvae and crabs, reversing some of the effects of industrial development in the area. Restoration of the historically marshy terrain will also provide an additional buffer from storm surges such as those that affected the battleground during Hurricane Ike.
"We demonstrated how well environmental enhancements can be integrated into dredging projects, which WEDA strongly encourages and we actively promote," said Mark Stroik, project manager, Atkins. "The award is external validation that truly emphasizes the importance of what our team was able to accomplish."
The marsh restoration was made possible through the use of material being removed for a private industry project near Morgan's Point, about 5 miles south of the battleground. Two levees were installed around the perimeter of the restoration area to contain dredge material from the Morgan's Point project that was pumped to the site and dispersed over the area. The deposited material raised the marsh bottom about 10 to 20 inches and has allowed marsh grasses to expand their coverage over the area.
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[ Editors: Images associated with this news release are available on the TPWD Web site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/). ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Aug. 3, 2017
Mother Neff Log Jam Cleared After Two Years of Flooding
WACO-- Thanks to the efforts of several partners, the half mile long log jam that has clogged a portion of the Leon River near Mother Neff State Park has been cleared.
During flooding events, the Texas 236 Highway bridge crossing the Leon River near Mother Neff State Park became a stopping point for large trees, contributing to more flooding and damage. Several park facilities have been impacted as a result, including damage to three major day-use sites and 20 tent campsites that remain closed. Of the approximately 400 acres that create Mother Neff, about 80 acres were impacted by flooding.
A Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) park, Mother Neff's first planners worked toward protecting the park's buildings from floodwaters by building riverside campgrounds as high above water as possible. Despite these efforts, severe flooding has closed the park several times over the years resulting in the need for major repairs.
Years of extreme drought followed by major flooding caused a log jam to clog portions of the Leon River at the park. The floods over the past two years caused the log jam to almost triple in size after trees from the riverbank began to fall into the river, as well as debris coming from upstream.
"The original project required that 1000 feet of woody debris in the Leon River be removed," said Mother Neff State Park superintendent Melissa Chadwick. "After work begun in May, it was evident the debris upstream needed to be cleared as well if the park was to have any chance to recover from flooding anytime the watershed received a couple inches of rain."
Chadwick said the project was extended and an additional half mile of debris was removed using specialized equipment at the end of July.
Partners for this project include the park's neighboring landowners, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Coryell County officials, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Texas Forest Service, Moir Watershed Services and community volunteers.
"This project could not have gone smoother and we are tremendously thankful for our supportive neighbors, an amazing contracting team and finally some cooperation from Mother Nature," said Chadwick.
With the clearing of the log jam, the park is looking forward to repairing portions of the original part of the park - including the renovation of the CCC rock tabernacle, lift station repairs and new restrooms - in the next two years. TxDOT is also beginning the process of constructing a new bridge on Texas 236 Highway.
For more information about Mother Neff State Park, visit the TPWD website.
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