The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has awarded Ducks Unlimited contracts for 14 projects directed to restore coastal marsh habitats and repair damaged infrastructure affected by Hurricane Ike. The projects will restore areas on public lands that provide crucial habitat for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species as well as improve flood and storm surge protection for coastal residents and interests.
“Ducks Unlimited is already working on several projects to alleviate some of the habitat losses caused by erosion, salt-water intrusion and subsidence along the Texas Coast,” Greg Green, DU regional biologist, said. “With these new Texas projects, DU now has an opportunity to further our conservation and partnership efforts to significantly advance coastal restoration and enhance wetland protection and management.”
Projects are located on McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge and on state wildlife management areas including Justin Hurst, Lower Neches, and J.D. Murphree. All totaled, the projects will restore and enhance thousands of acres on state and federal lands along the Texas coast, all of which have areas open to public waterfowl hunting.
“TPWD has worked with Ducks Unlimited for decades, and we are extremely confident in their ability to deliver on-the-ground habitat conservation in an efficient and cost-effective manner,” Project Leader for TPWD Upper Coast Wetland Ecosystem Project Jim Sutherlin said. “The marshes along Texas’ upper coast have been deteriorating for years due to several human-induced factors. Unfortunately, Hurricane Ike really accelerated that habitat loss. More than 800 acres of valuable marsh habitat on the JD Murphree WMA was eliminated overnight during Ike’s surge. These projects will address those impacts directly, and will provide increased habitat for fish and wildlife as well as increased protection from future storm damage for Texans.”
Coastal marshes are part of a system that includes periodic hurricane activity, and healthy marsh is capable of withstanding the storm surge and wind damage from storms like Ike. In addition to storm protection, intact coastal marshes provide added wetland values, such as clean water and air, increased water availability, and wildlife and fisheries resources to the residents and economy of the region.
Ducks Unlimited staff will design and install water control structures, natural beach protection features, terraces, and shoreline protection elements to restore hydrology to existing marshes and prevent further losses from erosion and salt-water intrusion. The goal is to not only restore these areas to pre-Ike conditions, but to make them even more resilient.
Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever.