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Galveston-Trinity Bay

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In 1996, the Texas General Land Office received an EPA grant to evaluate marsh creation and restoration projects and their potential for large-scale application in the Galveston-Trinity bay system.

Field surveys of seven large-scale (greater than one acre) sites in the Houston-Galveston area provided an interesting comparison of design types, criteria, and site characteristics. Two of the sites were primarily fill sites, two were fill and shape sites, two were scrape-down sites, and one was a natural substrate with shore protection.

WetlandsFrequently inundated organically rich muds seemed to have the most potential for relatively rapid growth and development of vegetation. In contrast, low-organic, dewatered Pleistocene clays at scrape-down sites may take time to become fertile enough for a more rapid spread in vegetation.

Subsidence could be a threat in all areas if rates don’t remain low, but in terms of shoreline stability, all sites had design criteria to guard against erosion.

Both scrape-down and fill sites, plus combinations of the two, have potential for large-scale development. Scrape-down sites are usually developed in uplands so there is the potential of adding wetlands without displacing aquatic habitats, thus expanding wetland habitats in a bay system. In fill sites, vast quantities of dredged material from navigation channels provide a potential source of fill for large-scale development.

The criteria and techniques identified for large-scale marsh development in the Galveston-Trinity bay system have potential for application in other bay-estuary-lagoon systems.

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Ray Newby
Ray Newby