PURPOSE: Restore this once vibrant body of water, which
is a major estuary that will serve as a fish and shrimp hatchery,
provide habitat for plants, fish, wildlife and birds, and furnish
recreational and research opportunities.
LOCATION: Bahia Grande is an 11,000
acre, barren basin within the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife
Refuge, which is located off the Gulf of Mexico, near the city of
Brownsville, at the southernmost tip of Texas.
PARTNERS: TX CWRP; U.S. FWS; NOAA-Fisheries;
NOAA-Community Based Restoration Program; Ducks Unlimited; Ocean
Trust; Gulf of Mexico Program; Gulf Ecological Management Sites
Program; and TX Coastal Program.
BACKGROUND: The Bahia Grande was
drained during the 1930’s during the expansion of the Brownsville
Ship Channel. It once served as an important nursery for a wide
variety of fish, shellfish, wildlife and waterfowl in the South
Texas coastal region. Prior to its draining, Bahia Grande had been
used as a fishing ground and source of salt by indigenous people
and early settlers.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has purchased Bahia Grande.
They propose to construct channels that will allow Bahia Grande
to be re-flooded. The channels will take advantage of the normal
tidal regime in the area and permit adequate tidal exchange of salt
water to maximize water circulation as well as allow migration of
marine organisms into and out of the basin. Plantings of native
seagrasses and black mangrove will accelerate the restoration of
the wetland plant community.
BENEFITS: The basins will fill
with water once again to become productive bays providing habitat
for many species of fish, shrimp, crabs, shorebirds, wading birds
and waterfowl. As a result, the Bahia Grande will become important
nursery grounds for recreationally and commercially important aquatic
species such as shrimp, crabs, and finfish which are important to
both consumptive and non-consumptive users
FUNDING: The Texas CWRP is contributing
$100,000 in cash and in-kind services to this project.
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