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Gulf Guardian Award Winners 2007

Partnership Category - 2nd Place

Company: Bahia Grande Restoration Project Presentation of the Gulf Guardian Award, 2nd Place, Partnership, Bahia Grande Restoration Project - Bruce Moulton, Thor Lassen, Bryon Griffith, Richard Greene.
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Project Name: University of Texas at Brownsville/
Texas Southmost College
Location: Brownsville, Texas
Category: Partnerships

The objectives of this project are to restore the Bahia Grande to its pre-degraded ecological state as a thriving mangrove-lined coastal estuary, and to develop a large, dedicated public support group through educational materials and volunteer activities, as a part of a long term effort (10 years or more). This area is 21,763 acres, located north of State Highway 48, just west of Port Isabel, Texas. The project began with the acquisition of the property in 2000, and its growing partner list includes universities, local/state and national government entities, private foundations, businesses, schools, and families.Community efforts resulted in the construction of a “pilot channel” to connect the Brownsville Ship Channel to the Bahia Grande via culverts in place under State Highway 48. The July 19, 2005 reflooding of the area abated the blowing dust from the basin, but the substrates of the shoreline need stability. UTB/TSC is leading the efforts to establish native grasses and other plants around the perimeter to secure the sediments and prevent erosion. Plants will bring organic matter to the system, provide shelter, nutrients, and substrate for microorganisms and larval and adult marine animals, enhance the beauty of the area and eventually attract migratory waterfowl.The pilot channel serves as a conduit for allowing marine organisms to migrate freely into Bahia Grande. Accordingly, a biological monitoring program was established to evaluate the ecological changes. Data gathered within the first few months following the 2005 flooding provided an encouraging glimpse of how rapidly the system could recover with adequate tidal exchange.

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