The Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program’s Nueces Bay Marsh Restoration Project is moving along to completion. When completed it will return this area to a productive natural habitat with enhancements for recreation.
Planning for this $5.3 million project began in 2005 and the actual work started in 2009. The 160-acre habitat enhancement effort is meant to compensate for 340 acres of marsh erosion over 60 years, much of which was the result of road construction and related dredging in the area.
The bottom contours and terrestrial features will provide habitat for birds, fish and other marine life and aquatic plants.
The restoration effort itself involved three major construction phases. First came the terraces and an outer berm to stave off erosion The second phase created additional marsh habitat beyond the terraces, and then an outer rock revetment was built to protect the project site and infrastructure.
The depth between these berms can reach 5-6 feet. This provides the kind of bottom contours that attract fish. The marshy middle area is meant to periodically become inundated and exposed by tidal fluctuations. And outside the rock barrier is a 6-foot-deep trench.
The finishing touches should be almost complete later this year. This will include an observation deck or walkway overlooking the area. Visitors will learn from interpretive signs about the area’s history, wildlife and marsh dynamics.
The final phase is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Texas General Land Office’s Coastal Management Program, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Part of this will be accomplished by volunteers who will help contractors replant cordgrass and other vegetation that didn’t take root previously. Some improvements also will be made to the caliche lot and ramp.
For volunteer opportunities, contact Rosario Martinez at 336-0308 or the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation.
While it may not appear natural in its current state, this project indeed carries a restoration goal to make the area appear similar to how it looked before.