Bringing Wetlands Back to Life
Along the Texas Gulf Coast, a tidal ecosystem was declining. Sediment and oyster shell had accumulated over a few decades, cutting off the inlet and blocking tidal exchanges. As water quality deteriorated, vegetation and fish followed. The bird population declined, as did tourism and recreational fishing opportunities; more than 500 acres of salt marsh wetlands disappeared. Freese and Nichols teamed with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Calhoun County to implement the solution: Remove the inlet blockage to restore tidal conveyance, and then use the material to protect an eroding shoreline. Through detailed agency coordination, our staff obtained a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in less than six weeks. Now, daily ebb and flows have returned; water quality has improved; and wildlife and recreation are making a comeback. The Extension Service received the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Environmental Excellence Award for this project, an honor they shared with Freese and Nichols.
Photo credit: Texas A&M AgriLife Research