BROWNSVILLE, Texas (KVEO) — The largest tidal wetland restoration project in Texas, encompassing more than 10,000 acres, and one of the largest coastal wetland restoration projects in the nation is nearing completion.
Construction on a much larger permanent channel begins this month replacing the temporary pilot channel to restore Bahia Grande to the thriving estuary it once was. The $5 million dollar project is being implemented by the Texas General Land Office with funding derived from the Deepwater Horizon litigation.
The dredging of the ship channel connecting the Gulf of Mexico to the Port of Brownsville in the early 1930’s and later the construction of Highway 48 cut off tidal flow to Bahia Grande drying a productive estuary and creating an immense dust bowl, where once thousands of terns and colonial waterbirds nested and fish thrived.
More than 60 government entities, private companies and individuals have cooperated over the decades to restore Bahia Grande and no one has been devoted to this project longer than Cameron County Commissioner David Garza.
“When I became a commissioner in 2001 is when I started receiving complaints…there was blowing dust everywhere on Highway 100 and Highway 48 there would be dunes of dust,” said Commissioner Garza.
While Garza has been steadfast in his dedication to restoring Bahia Grande, he credits the successful partnerships.
“The only way that this came to fruition was the collaborative efforts by different folks.”
This remarkable restoration is a wonderful example of how thru cooperation between federal, state, county and private entities positive change can be achieved.
“Two man-made intentional barriers hopefully will be overcome to recreate what we had in the early 1900s, even though now it is the early 2000s you know. 100 hundred years later we are looking at fixing what we screwed up,” added Commissioner Garza.