Restoration of Egery Flats in Progress

John Blaha
Restoration of Egery Flats in Progress

Egery Flats has suffered significantly as the old 30-inch culverts filled with barnacles and sediments.

Habitat within eco-systems along the Gulf coast, and all the coastal regions of the United States and the rest of the world has declined for decades due to development, transportation infrastructure, oil and gas operations, natural causes and much more. CCA Texas and Building Conservation Trust (BCT), CCA National’s Habitat Program, have both played key roles in helping restore degraded habitat. These efforts are often through partnerships with organizations such as Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program (CBBEP), Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), and other similar non-profit organizations and government entities. These projects have included marsh restoration efforts through the use of breakwaters, beneficial use dredge spoil, grass plantings, and floating island methods. One such restoration effort recently began in Egery Flats, located on the upper end of Copano Bay.

Egery Flats sits on the western edge of Copano Bay near the mouth of the Aransas River.  In 1945, when Farm to Market Road 136 was constructed, two culvert systems, each consisting of two 30-inch round culverts, were installed to allow water to flow in and out of Egery Flats.  Over time, the flow through these culverts has become restricted enough to impact water quality and habitat, which has resulted in the conversion of over 100 acres of estuarine marsh and habitat to open water since the 1950s.  While FM 136 connects local communities and is a favorite spot for roadside fishermen, crabbers, and birders, Egery Flats has deteriorated greatly since its construction.

CBBEP received a grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund for the project. This project will replace the old 30-inch culverts with three 3’ x 6’ box culverts at each location. These new culverts will not only increase water flow greatly, but they will restore critical hydrology which will lower salinity levels in the area and enhance more than 600 acres of emergent marsh, submerged vegetation, and tidal flats at Egery Flats. Prior to the start of construction, CBBEP worked with Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve (MANEER) at the University of Texas Marine Science institute and TPWD to collect valuable preconstruction data, including porewater salinity and vegetation monitoring. These data will be valuable in the evaluation of future projects. Once completed, monitoring will continue and will help determine the effectiveness of the culvert replacement and success of the restoration effort.

Successful projects are often successful because of a strong partnership base that works hand in hand. The Egery Flats project has several partners including: National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, Texas Parks & Wildlife, US Fish & Wildlife Services, Building Conservation Trust, Coastal Conservation Association Texas, Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, University of Texas Marine Science Institute, and Texas Department of Transportation. All of these partners have and will continue to play a vital role through the completion and post monitoring effort of the project. CCA Texas and BCT contributed $70,000 to this project. These funds will be used to primarily plant approximately 8 acres of emergent marsh to help enhance the re-vegetation of the flats.

Habitat restoration and creation is a vital component to insuring healthy and bountiful coastal resources for the future. CCA Texas and BCT are committed to continuing their support to projects along the Texas coast for generations to come. This support would never be possible without the continued success of the grassroots efforts of CCA Texas volunteers across the state and supporters within the communities in which CCA Texas chapters exist. CCA Texas and BCT are continuously seeking project and funding partners for habitat efforts. For more information about CCA Texas or BCT, please contact John Blaha at (713) 626-4222 or [email protected].

Oysters, Blues and Brews – November 1, 2018

Building Conservation Trust and Goode Company will be hosting the 3rd Annual Oysters, Blues and Brews on Thursday, November 1, 2018. The event will be held at Goode Company’s Armadillo Palace, located on Kirby Drive in Houston. This event features oysters served in many different ways, live music and everyone’s favorite beverages. So be sure and come out for a night full of Gulf oysters, live music, and cold beer benefiting the Oyster Restoration efforts of Building Conservation Trust, Coastal Conservation Association’s National Habitat Program.