Projects: Texas

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The Texas coast is also home to hundreds of species of birds, particularly during spring migration. However, the health of the Texas coast has declined over the past decades of industrialization. Facing increasingly difficult-to-predict periods of drought and flooding, the ever-present threat of devastating hurricanes, and a rising population with increased water demands, Texas urgently needs to make critical investments to restore, protect, and enhance the health of its Gulf coastal estuaries and communities.

The long-term health and productivity of the state’s coastal estuaries depend on the continued flow of fresh water to the bays from the rivers that feed them. Healthy marsh vegetation and oyster reefs provide habitat for many species and storm protection for coastal communities, but these systems require adequate freshwater inflows to survive, particularly during times of drought.

In total, Texas is certain to receive more than $900,000 dollars that can be used for restoration as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. With a competitive grants process in place, about a quarter of these funds have already been awarded or are in the process of being committed to projects that include purchasing key parcels of land, restoring nesting habitats for birds, monitoring sea turtle populations and rebuilding oyster reefs. The remaining money will become available over the next decade and a half.


Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge Environmental Flow Restoration

  • State: Texas
  • Type: Hydrologic Restoration
  • Estuary: Galveston Bay
  • Land Benefit: 6,500 acres

This project would restore freshwater flows across two large tracts, totaling about 6,500 acres, at the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. Land use changes, such as construction of roads and ditches, have reduced overland flow of fresh water. Combined with the channelization of adjacent bayous that connect to East Galveston Bay, the reduced flow has increased salinity levels in marsh habitats resulting in ongoing marsh degradation including the conversion of areas to open-water saline ponds. Up to 10,000 acre-feet per year of reliably available water would be purchased and delivered to the tracts.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

Anahuac NWR provides some of the best seasonal waterfowl hunting opportunities in Southeast Texas. The water deliveries will restore more natural salinity gradients and inundation patterns across the refuge tracts, improving and protecting marsh habitat for wading birds and waterfowl.  The water deliveries also will reduce salinity levels in bayous draining the tracts, especially during drought periods, benefiting young fish, shrimp, crabs and other organisms that move between the tracts and nearby East Galveston Bay.

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West Powderhorn Ranch Acquisition (Powderhorn II)

  • State: Texas
  • Type: Habitat Protection
  • Estuary: Matagorda Bay
  • Land Benefit: 10,000 acres

On the west side of Powderhorn Ranch, is the 10,000-acre West Powderhorn ranch, with more than four miles of frontage on the tidally-influenced Powderhorn Lake, and healthy native prairie, live oak forest, tidal marsh, tidal flat and palustrine freshwater wetlands. Acquisition of the West Powderhorn site would expand the Powderhorn Ranch Wildlife Management Area and State Park to well over 27,000 acres. This estuary is provides habitat for a vast number of shorebirds, wading birds, waterfowl and Neotropical migrants.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

This project aids in assuring management for landscape scale ecosystem functions and sufficient habitat for whooping cranes, as well as a myriad of resident and migratory coastal species such as shore and wading birds and waterfowl, many of which are already identified by the state as species of greatest conservation need.

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San Antonio Bay Conservation Easement Acquisition

  • State: Texas
  • Type: Habitat Protection
  • Estuary: San Antonio Bay
  • Land Benefit: 2,500 acres

Private landowners hold and manage key tracts in and around the Guadalupe Delta and San Antonio Bay. Many of the lands are not currently available for fee simple purchase, however, a number of landowners have expressed interest in sale of conservation easements. Engaging local landowners through a conservation easement purchase program in this critical ecological area would also provide additional opportunities for enrolling these same landowners in a number of private lands habitat restoration and enhancement programs established by other private and public funders.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

The Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust holds conservation easements on over 9,000 acres of land that preserves wildlife corridors, native grasses, river and stream frontages, ranches and farms. Permanently protecting additional lands in this area would provide direct benefit to waterfowl, wetland dependent birds, endangered species and water quality.

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