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Gulf Coastal Plains Mitigation Bank, TX

Quick Facts
Location Chambers County, Texas
USACE District Galveston
Site Acres 1,957
Watersheds Serviced (HUC Cataloging Units) Sabine Lake (12040201)
East Galveston Bay (12040202)
North Galveston Bay (12040203)
West Galveston Bay (12040204)
EPA Level IV EcoRegions Serviced Northern Humid Gulf Coastal Prairies, Texas-Louisiana Coastal Marshes
Counties and Portions of Counties Serviced Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Jefferson, Hardin, Harris, Liberty, Orange
Available Wetland Habitat Types Freshwater Marsh, Intermediate Tidal Marsh, Tidal Flats, Open Water, Tidal Stream, Freshwater Stream
Available Mitigation Types Restoration (Re-establishment and Rehabilitation) and Stream Restoration
Total Mitigation Acres 1850
Current Mitigation Acres Available for Sale 0
Functional Assessment Method & Credit Value Under Evaluation
Riverine Shrub/Scrub iHGM (Interim Hydrogeomorphic method) Under Evaluation
Tidal Fringe iHGM (Interim Hydrogeomorphic method) Under Evaluation
Stream Under Evaluation

gulf coastal plains mitigation bank, TXSurrounded on three sides by the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, one of the jewels of the National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) system renowned for its use by rare and endangered neotropical migrants, Gulf Coastal Plains Wetland Mitigation Bank offers unprecedented freshwater and tidal marsh ecological function and value to neotropical migratory avifauna.

Just due north of the renowed High Island (the first stopping ground for many neotropical migrants heading north over thousands of miles of Gulf of Mexico Waters), this bank site is a rice farm that was in cultivation for over 75 years, and also managed for waterfowl hunting and recreation. Leveed and converted during the depression era, the site lies within historic hydric soils and is bordered by bayous (East Bay and Elm).

The template for restoration of this valuable site is based on 1920s aerial photography, which depicts hundreds of acres of intermediate tidal marsh, coastal prairie depressional freshwater marshes interconnected by wet prairie flow-ways, "pimple" mounds, freshwater drains, and a meandering tidal channel of Elm Bayou within the southern portion of the site.

Alterations with the conversion of the site to agriculture in the 1940s included complete leeving of the site, dredging and straightening of both Elm and East Bay Bayous, laser leveling, eradication of many natural drainage features, excavation of an extensive ditch and flashboard structure agricultural water management system, excavation of several reservoirs, and loss of tidal and hydrologic connections to East Bay and Elm Bayou. Several natural freshwater drains coming onto the site were also channelized, straightened and re-directed with the conversion of the site. Restoration and mitigation activities will restore to the extent practicable the historic ecological function of this site, as well as extensive coastal prairie as transitional habitat between freshwater depressional marshes within the northern section of bank.

The intermediate tidal marsh restoration will serve as invaluable estuarine nursery habitat, and restore essential fish habitat throughout the area with the reconnection of the southern portion of the site with Elm and East Bay Bayous.