Coastal wetlands have tremendous biological and economic value. The Land Office works to protect Texas coastal wetlands, including salt and freshwater marshes, bottomland hardwoods and swamps, and palustrine scrub-shrubs, through regulatory and non-regulatory programs. Coastal wetlands help improve water quality; serve as important nurseries for fish, crab, and other shellfish; provide diverse wildlife habitat; serve as flood buffers; help control shoreline erosion; and provide an abundance of recreational activities for the public.
Coastal wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to tropical rain forests and coral reefs. Texas coastal wetlands account for 6 percent of wetlands nationally and 12 percent of those found in the Gulf of Mexico. It's estimated that more than 95 percent of the Gulf of Mexico's recreational and commercial catch of fish, oysters, shrimp, and crab use coastal wetlands for spawning, nursery, and feeding habitat. Wetlands also provide permanent and seasonal habitat for a great variety of wildlife, including 75 percent of North America's birds. Well over one-third of the 564 plant and animal species listed as threatened or endangered in the United States use wetland habitats.
The Texas Coast has experienced widespread wetlands loss due to urban and commercial development, altered hydrology (i.e. freshwater inflows), saltwater intrusion, channelization, invasive species, pollution, subsidence, and in some areas, sea level rise. The loss of these wetlands directly and indirectly affects coastal communities and the many bay and ocean species that rely on these habitats for protection and food so it is important to help protect and restore these critical areas.