Freese and Nichols teamed with Texas A&M University (TAMU) and Calhoun County (Commissioner Roger Galvan – Precinct 1) on a coastal restoration project near Magnolia Beach, Texas. As identified by the Calhoun County Texas Shoreline Access Plan, the bay inlet into Old Town Lake has limited intertidal conveyance due to sediment and shell accumulation within the inlet. According to TAMU researchers and locals, this blockage started to form in the early 1990s. The reduced tidal exchanges have resulted in hypersaline conditions expressed by fish kills and large areas of marsh loss.
Our team proposed to remove accumulated sediments and shell from the inlet to improve and restore tidal conveyance, and then use the shell material to protect an eroding shoreline located across Old Town Lake. Through an academic partnership fostered by our coastal team, Freese and Nichols teamed with Dr. Rusty Feagin of TAMU’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Management to assist on this coastal restoration project. Dr. Feagin assisted Calhoun County in securing the Texas General Land Office Coastal Erosion Planning and Response Act (CEPRA) grant for this project, and our team was responsible for obtaining U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) authorization of the project via Nationwide Permit 27 for Aquatic Habitat Restoration, Rehabilitation, and Enhancement. Through detailed agency coordination, our staff was able to obtain a USACE permit within approximately 26 business days!
This inlet restoration project is part of a larger, more comprehensive restoration plan across Old Town Lake and its marshes. Other restoration actions include removal of an unauthorized roadway constructed across an area called “fish pass,” and removal of culverts and sediments associated with Zimmerman Road, a historic road in the area connecting in the past the town of Indianola. Restoration of these subinlets, combined with restoration of the primary inlet, should yield a variety of ecological benefits due to increased tidal conveyance across the system.