Project Summaries

Matagorda Bay Fishing Cooperative, Contract #003

(Reference Paragraph 56 of the Consent Decree)

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives, a non-profit organization with offices throughout the South, will be charged with forming a Matagorda Bay Fishing Cooperative and, if necessary, a netting and/or transportation cooperative to support the Fishing Cooperative under a project called the Matagorda Bay Cooperative Development Project.

The Matagorda Bay and San Antonio Bay Systems have historically had a thriving fishing, shrimping, and oystering industry that has declined due, in part, to pollution of the Bays. The purpose of this project is environmental restoration and protection, specifically to revitalize the marine ecosystems and promote long-term sustainable fisheries by supporting the fishing community to work together to sustain harvests from the Bay Systems in an environmentally responsible manner.

The Federation will work with local fishermen, shrimpers and oystermen to organize a local Cooperative with the goal of improving the ecosystem and developing sustainable fishing, shrimping, and oystering of the Bay Systems. Funds may be expended for:

  1. Organizing a local Cooperative;
  2. Implementing sustainable fishing practices;
  3. Promoting mechanisms to create sustainable harvest;
  4. Analyzing best markets for environmentally responsible seafood harvest; and
  5. Determining and investing in necessary infrastructure as explained below.

The Federation may make zero interest loans to the Cooperative(s) for:

  1. The purchase of infrastructure or other needs consistent with the goal of improving the ecosystem and developing sustainable fishing, shrimping, and oystering of the Bay Systems.
  2. Repayments of loans will go to Federation to be used exclusively on the Matagorda Bay Fishing Cooperative Project.

The Federation may determine that formation of other cooperatives, such as netting or transportation cooperatives, are necessary to support a sustainable fishing community and may expend funds towards organizing those cooperatives.

The Cooperative may recommend to the Federation that funds earmarked for the Project be spent in coordination with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on oyster reef restoration and aquaculture projects in the Bay Systems.

Green Lake Park, Calhoun County, Contracts #004 and #017

(Reference Paragraph 57 of the Consent Decree)

The purpose of this project is environmental restoration and protection of Green Lake, Calhoun County, specifically to restore the lake to its historic condition, including repairing a recent breach due to Hurricane Harvey and provide Funds for development of public access to the Park.

Green Lake is the second largest natural lake in the State of Texas, but does not have public access, and has not been developed or protected in a way to ensure its natural environment is sustained. Green Lake was recently purchased by Calhoun County.           

Calhoun County will use Trust funds to repair the current breach from Green Lake waters which is causing seepage from Green Lake into adjacent waters (Contract #004). Thereafter, funds will be used to develop, operate and maintain Green Lake Park as a publicly available park without recreational vehicle hook-ups, but otherwise consistent with the Green Lake Master Plan (Contract #017).

Any funding left after construction of the Park will be spent on operation and maintenance of the park.

Green Lake Park Location Map

Link to the Calhoun County Parks Improvement Plan 2021 (Green Lake Park is located on Pages 69-77)

Calhoun County/Port Lavaca YMCA, Contract #001

(Reference Paragraph 58 of the Consent Decree)

The purpose of this project is environmental education, specifically to give local children the opportunity to learn about and enjoy the local ecosystem.

The Port Lavaca YMCA is a branch of Young Men’s Christian Association of the Golden Crescent, Inc. located in Victoria, Texas.

Beach erosion and pollution of the Bay Systems and their shores has limited recreational opportunity to children of Calhoun County. The Port Lavaca YMCA will conduct camps for children and teenagers in the area, which will be focused on education about how to be a good steward of the local ecosystems and will teach outdoor education and recreation activities.

Free transportation will be offered to the camps and children who meet federal low-income standards will be given a scholarship to attend and will be provided free meals and snacks.

Funding may also be spent for housing for summer staff to conduct the camps and to train staff on the ecology of the Bay Systems. Funding may also be used for the purchase of equipment for the camps.

Summer 2020 Report

Summer 2020 Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0w6XRQU6-4

Summer 2021 Report

Summer 2021 Video: https://youtu.be/D_AKLT0fq5Q

Summer 2022 Report

Summer 2023 Report

Summer 2023 Video: https://youtu.be/WE_LP5uzw2U

 

Magnolia Beach, Calhoun County

(Reference Paragraph 59 of the Consent Decree)

The purpose of this Mitigation Project is environmental restoration and protection specifically to restore Magnolia Beach and to allow use by the public.

Calhoun County will undertake projects for erosion control and beach restoration at Magnolia Beach including the purchase and use of clean and uncontaminated fill material, planting of native plants, necessary construction to prevent future erosion and necessary maintenance to prevent beach erosion.

Beach erosion and pollution of Lavaca Bay and its shores has limited recreational opportunities for the people of Calhoun County. Magnolia Beach has sustained harm from erosion and is also a location where plastics has been found.

Magnolia Beach Location Map

UT Marine Science Institute, Contract #002

(Reference Paragraph 60 of the Consent Decree)

The purpose of this Mitigation Project is environmental quality assessment and environmental education, specifically to support the Nurdle Patrol which documents the discharge of plastics on the Gulf Shore, and to host conferences on environmental issues on the Gulf Coast.  

The University of Texas Marine Science Institute is to use funds to support the Nurdle Patrol and for workshops and meetings, and to provide scholarships for attendance, food, transportation and expenses at conferences.

Nurdle Patrol Year 1 Final Report 2020-2021

Nurdle Patrol Report August 2021

Nurdle Patrol Report December 2021

Nurdle Patrol Report March 2022

Nurdle Patrol Year 2 Final Report - June 2022

Nurdle Patrol Report August 2022

Nurdle Patrol Report November 2022

Nurdle Patrol Report February 2023

Nurdle Patrol Year 3 Final Report - June 2023

Nurdle Patrol Report - August 2023

Nurdle Patrol Report - November 2023

Nurdle Patrol Report - February 2024

Environmental Research Mitigation Projects (Par 61), and

Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust Mitigation Projects (Par 62)

An RFP process is used to solicit project proposals under Paragraphs 61 and 62 of the Consent Decree.

The 2020-2021 RFP cycle:

On October 30, 2020 the Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust published a Request for Proposals for coastal environmental projects in four categories: habitat restoration, environmental research, public education, and improving public access. The Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust received a total of 39 proposals, from 16 entities, totaling 14.5 million dollars. Of those, nine projects, from six entities, totaling 3.2 million dollars were approved for funding.

The 2021-2022 RFP cycle:

On September 1, 2021 the Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust published a Request for Proposals for coastal environmental projects in five categories: habitat restoration, environmental research, public education, improving public access, and youth camps. In response to the published advertisements a total of 37 proposals, from 20 entities, totaling 11.2 million dollars were received. Of those, twelve projects, from eight entities, totaling nearly 3.3 million dollars were approved for funding.

The 2022-2023 RFP cycle:

On September 1, 2022 the Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust published a Request for Proposals for coastal environmental projects in five categories: habitat restoration, environmental research, public education, improving public access, and youth camps. In response to the published advertisements a total of 26 proposals, from 19 entities, totaling 10.5 million dollars were received. Of those, fifteen projects, from twelve entities, totaling nearly 5.8 million dollars were approved for funding.

The 2023-2024 RFP cycle:

On September 1, 2023 the Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust published a Request for Proposals for coastal environmental projects in six categories: habitat restoration, environmental research, public education, environmental advocacy, improving public access, and youth camps. In response to the published advertisements a total of 39 proposals, totaling $16.1 million were received. Of those, twenty-six projects, totaling over $11.2 million were approved for funding.

 

Environmental Research Mitigation Projects

(Reference Paragraph 61 of the Consent Decree)

The Bay Systems have suffered environmental degradation, including the repeated discharges of pollutants. The purpose of this Mitigation Project is funding for specific environmental research projects to better understand the extent and impacts of environmental degradation in these ecosystems as well as possible solutions for restoration and mitigation.

The Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust shall undertake one or more environmental research mitigation projects providing for funding for environmental research regarding the Bay Systems, or the river deltas in Calhoun or Jackson Counties feeding into those systems.

Funding may be provided for environmental research topics including, but not limited to, the ecology, pollution, fisheries, or habitat and wildlife restoration of the ecosystems.

The Trustee shall set up a system to provide funding for research, including providing public notice of the research opportunity and setting up a review process for applications with researchers in applicable fields.

Proposals Awarded

2020-2021 Proposals Awarded Under Paragraph 61

Evaluation of the Proposal for Widening and Deepening the Matagorda Ship Channel - Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi - ($110,028) - Contract #016

This project will provide an independent evaluation of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study for improving the Matagorda Ship Channel, Port Lavaca, Texas.  The Corps’ study assessed the effects on the natural system and human environment, including the economic development effects of existing inefficiencies.

This project will include an assessment of potential physical and ecological impacts to Matagorda and Lavaca Bays. The assessments would be based on literature review and reanalysis of existing data and information. The major areas of concern are potential changes to bay circulation, salinity, groundwater interaction, placement of dredge material, increases in turbidity and mobilization of mercury in sediments of the bay.

Matagorda Ship Channel Progress Report - August 2021 

Matagorda Bay Ship Channel Final Report - October 2021

Matagorda Bay Ship Channel Final Report Presentation - October 2021

 

Colorado River Delta Ecosystem Assessment: Gathering key baseline data to guide future habitat restoration in Matagorda Bay - Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi ($495,991) - Contract #015

The goal of this project is to complete a comprehensive ecosystem assessment of the Colorado River Delta to generate the best available science to support long-term ecological sustainability of this important region of Matagorda Bay. The project involves mapping all benthic habitat, evaluating marsh habitat, quantifying juvenile finfish and shellfish distributions, describing coastal bird habitat use, and a hydrological assessment. Project completion will provide a comprehensive ecological baseline for future comparison and planning. The project also includes the development of design and implementation strategies for habitat restoration aimed at maximizing available freshwater inflow and water quality to support these critical nursery grounds during extended drought.

Colorado Delta Quarterly Report - June 2021

Colorado Delta Quarterly Report - September 2021

Colorado Delta Quarterly Report - November 2021

Colorado Delta Quarterly Report - March 2022

Colorado Delta Quarterly Report - June 2022

Colorado Delta Quarterly Report - September 2022

Colorado Delta Quarterly Report - December 2022

Colorado Delta Quarterly Report - March 2023

Colorado Delta Quarterly Report - June 2023

Colorado Delta FINAL REPORT - July 2023 

 

A research and monitoring program to mitigate the impact of harmful algal blooms on the Matagorda Bay and San Antonio Bay ecosystems – Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi - ($478,882) - Contract #014

Since 2008, shellfish harvesting in Matagorda Bay and San Antonio Bay has been closed no less than seven times and five times, respectively, due to the presence of harmful algal blooms (HABs). Fish kills have also occurred as a result of HABs. The goal for this project is to implement a HAB monitoring program in Matagorda and San Antonio Bay using high frequency water sampling and an automated, real-time HAB sensor. The main outcome will be enhanced mitigation and possibly prevention of negative impacts from HABs on the Matagorda and San Antonio Bay ecosystems and their living resources.

Algal Bloom Progress Report - May 2021

Algal Bloom Progress Report - August 2021

Algal Bloom Progress Report - February 2022

Algal Bloom Progress Report - June 2022

Algal Bloom Progress Report - August 2022

Algal Bloom Progress Report - November 2022

Algal Bloom Progress Report - February 2023

Algal Bloom Progress Report - May 2023

Algal Bloom Progress Report - August 2023

Algal Bloom Progress Report - November 2023

Algal Bloom Progress Report - February 2024

 

2021-2022 Proposals Awarded Under Paragraph 61

Lavaca Bay Ecosystem Assessment: Gathering key baseline data among nursery habitats spread across a pollution gradient- Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi - ($399,776) - Contract #021

The goal of this project is to complete a comprehensive, seasonal ecological assessment of important nursery habitats in Lavaca, Cox and Keller Bays with respect to potential nurdle effects on aquatic and avian species. This focused environmental research project involves quantifying juvenile, estuarine-dependent nekton (i.e., fish, shrimp, crabs, etc.) distributions and describing coastal bird habitat use directly within and adjacent to nurdle recovery locations in the Lavaca Bay system. Comparisons to ongoing assessments in the Colorado River Delta and Guadalupe River Delta will be made to further assess potential impacts from nurdles and guide future restoration planning along the central Texas Coast.

Lavaca Bay Ecosystem Assessment Progress Report - June 2022

Lavaca Bay Ecosystem Assessment Progress Report - September 2022

Lavaca Bay Ecosystem Assessment Progress Report - December 2022

Lavaca Bay Ecosystem Assessment Progress Report - March 2023

Lavaca Bay Ecosystem Assessment Progress Report - June 2023

Lavaca Bay Ecosystem Assessment Progress Report - November 2023

Lavaca Bay Ecosystem Assessment Progress Report - March 2024

 

Sediment Quality Assessment Survey of Lavaca and Matagorda Bays – Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi - ($400,000) - Contract #019

There has been a long-term decline in benthic abundance, biomass, and diversity in the Lavaca-Matagorda Bay system since 1988. Past research has pointed to three possible causes: reduced freshwater inflow, climate change, or pollution. This project would perform a sediment quality survey to determine if pollution is the answer. Contaminants would indicate chemical dose, toxicity tests would indicate biological response, and benthic diversity would indicate ecological response. Sediment surveys are a common tool for ecosystem assessments to indicate bay health. At least 30 stations would be sampled over the entire system.

Sediment Quality Assessment Quarterly Report 4-22 

Sediment Quality Assessment Progress Report 10-22

Sediment Quality Assessment Progress Report 4-23

Sediment Quality Assessment Progress Report 7-23

Sediment Quality Assessment Progress Report 10-23

Sediment Quality Assessment Progress Report 1-24

Sediment Quality Assessment Progress Report 4-24

 

2022-2023 Proposals Awarded Under Paragraph 61

Environmental Research

Assessing the risks of lithium pollution on estuarine fishes, University of Texas at Austin Marine Sciences Institute, ($399,998) Contract #045

Lithium is an emerging environmental contaminant nationwide. This psychoactive metal is highly mobile in aquatic environments and known to pass through wastewater treatment facilities. Furthermore, the proliferation of rechargeable electrical devices and shale hydraulic fracturing are resulting in an increase in the occurrence of elevated lithium concentrations in Texas groundwaters. While elevated environmental lithium is being studied with respect to human health risks, little is known about associated risks to aquatic fauna. This study will combine environmental sampling of riverine input and estuarine waters of Matagorda Bay and San Antonio Bay with lab-based toxicological studies to provide a thorough foundational understanding of the risks of lithium exposure to coastal fish and fisheries.

Progress Report - October 2023

Progress Report - January 2024

Progress Report - April 2024

 

Assessing multi-trophic impacts of microplastic pollutants across macroinvertebrate food webs in Matagorda Bay, Texas, Tarleton State University, ($463,382) Contract #046

Macroinvertebrates provide important ecosystem services to freshwater and coastal wetlands, such as nutrient cycling, bioindicators of water quality, and food for other wildlife. As such, changes in the environment that impact macroinvertebrate communities will have detrimental impacts on ecosystem health. This study seeks to identify the impact of free plastic pollutants (microplastics and nano plastics) on macroinvertebrates in Matagorda Bay and determine the consequence of microplastic inputs in food webs, i.e., pollutants moving from plant to macroinvertebrate herbivores, detritivores, or predators. The findings of this study will provide guidance to efforts seeking to reduce the impact of microplastic pollution in Gulf Coastal bays. 

Assessing multi-trophic impacts - Report 8-23

Assessing multi-trophic impacts - Report 11-23

Assessing multi-trophic impacts - Report 2-24

 

2023-2024 Proposals Awarded Under Paragraph 61

Environmental Research

Evaluating Ecological & Human Health Risk of PFAS in Matagorda Bay, University of Texas at Austin Marine Sciences Institute, ($499,651) Contract #067

Due to the growing interest in aquaculture and reef restoration in Matagorda Bay, this study will collect field and laboratory data to determine whether PFAS in oysters pose ecological or human health risks. Data generated from this study will support multiple program priorities. These include informing future data-driven management decisions, the development of impactful advocacy initiatives for both human and ecosystem health, and a risk assessment of PFAS in Matagorda Bay for Texas communities.

Phase 1 of this study will include field-based efforts aimed at characterizing the bioaccumulation of PFAS in market-sized (3 in.) Eastern oysters across Matagorda Bay, including collection of Eastern oysters from restored oyster reefs in the Bay.  Phase 2 of this study will be a lab-based component with two focuses: the first will investigate the impacts of PFAS exposure on adult oyster reproductive success; the second will assess the effects of PFAS on growth of larval, pre-settlement Eastern oysters and quantify bioaccumulation in their tissues. Phase 3 of this study will utilize the data from Phases 1 and 2, combined with PFAS occurrence data collected in the study area through a previous Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust grant (MBMT Contract #0038), to quantitatively evaluate PFAS exposure and subsequently evaluate potential human health and ecological risks to oysters in Matagorda Bay.

 

Relating variation in freshwater inflow and water quality to biological communities in the Colorado River Delta to inform future habitat restoration projects, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, ($294,190) Contract #069

This project aims to better understand of the influence of freshwater inflow and water quality variability on biological communities in the Colorado River Delta at two sites deemed suitable for freshwater-inflow-related habitat restoration projects and two control sites located further out in the Delta. Through intensive field sampling over two years and planning meetings with potential pilot project sponsors, the project’s overall goal is to provide essential baseline data needed to inform the design, implementation, and evaluation of potential habitat restoration efforts that maximize the distribution of available freshwater inflow to support key ecosystem functions in the Matagorda Bay system.

 

Assessment of PFAS concentrations and loadings in the Lavaca Bay watershed, Texas A&M Agrilife Research, ($477,186) Contract #071

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of widespread and highly persistent recalcitrant chemicals that have been found at concerning concentrations in water, air, fish, and soils across the world. Research has linked PFAS exposure to numerous negative health effects in humans, including increased cancer, developmental delays, and reproductive effects. This study will assess the concentrations and loadings of PFAS compounds within Lavaca Bay and the contributing watershed. Environmental sampling will be combined with statistical modeling to establish relationships between hydrologic regimes and PFAS concentrations within the watershed.

 

Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust Mitigation Projects

(Reference Paragraph 62 of the Consent Decree)

The purpose of this mitigation project is to research, protect, and restore the water bodies and surrounding ecosystems of Matagorda Bay and San Antonio Bay or the river deltas feeding into those systems. The Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust shall award funds for the benefit of these waterbodies and the public, including for:

  1. Providing public education about those waterbodies;
  2. Sponsoring youth camps that focus on how to be a good steward of the local ecosystems and to teach outdoor education and recreation;
  3. Purchasing land in the watersheds of those waterbodies for conservation purposes, in order to reduce runoff and other pollution into those waterbodies, and to improve physical or visual public access to them;
  4. Environmental research of those waterbodies, including but not limited to, the ecology, pollution, fisheries, or habitat and wildlife restoration of the ecosystems;
  5. Environmental advocacy, except for litigation;
  6. Habitat restoration; and,
  7. Additional funding for any of the previously described projects in this project summary.

The Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust Mitigation Project will have an Awards Committee that will establish the process for applications for, and distribution of, the funding for projects.

Proposals Awarded

2020-2021 Proposals Awarded Under Paragraph 62

Habitat Restoration

Protection and Restoration of the Blackjack Peninsula, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge – Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program - ($500,000) - Contract #006

Erosion along the Blackjack Peninsula shoreline at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge has resulted in significant loss of both wetland and upland habitats. Hurricane Harvey further exacerbated the erosion issues along this San Antonio Bay shoreline. In 2019, the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program received funds to work with the United States Fish & Wildlife Service to install a shoreline protection structure that will protect close to 4 miles of Blackjack Peninsula shoreline at Dagger Point from ongoing erosion and storm events. However, the need to move the breakwater closer to shore has increased the cost of construction. Therefore, additional funding from the Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust was needed to increase the construction budget of this project.

Blackjack Dagger Location Map

Blackjack Peninsula Project Status Report - August 2021

Blackjack Peninsula Project Status Report - October 2021

Blackjack Peninsula Project Status Report - March 2022

Blackjack Peninsula Project Status Report - June 2022 

Blackjack Peninsula Project Status Report - March 2023

Blackjack Peninsula Project Status Report - March 2024

 

Protection and Restoration of Matagorda Island West Marsh, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge – Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program - ($498,000) - Contract #007

Hurricane Harvey passed directly over the Matagorda Island Unit of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, causing extensive damage to the levees and water control infrastructure within an area known as the West Marsh. This infrastructure protects important coastal habitats used by numerous types of wildlife, including the Whooping Crane. In 2019, the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program received funding from the United States Fish & Wildlife Service to repair the levees and water control structures that were damaged, but assessments revealed that damages were more severe than initially estimated and extensive repairs were needed. Therefore, additional funding from the Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust was needed to increase the construction budget of this project.

West Marsh Location Map

West Marsh Project Status Report - August 2021

West Marsh Project Status Report - October 2021

West Marsh Project Status Report - March 2022

West Marsh Project Status Report - June 2022

West Marsh Project Status Report - March 2023

West Marsh Project Status Report - September 2023

 

Schicke Point Living Shoreline Restoration – Matagorda Bay Foundation - ($500,000) - Contract #009

A living shoreline is to be constructed to protect 0.6 miles of Matagorda Bay’s north shore between Carancahua and Turtle bays from erosion. This shore has extensive Smooth Cordgrass and Black Mangrove marsh and oyster reefs which are being removed by erosion. The living shoreline would be a broad, low, rock sill with gaps allowing overtopping by some waves with sediment. This part of the shore includes a unique vegetative community providing important resting habitat for neotropical migrant songbirds. The adjacent living shoreline with a similar design hosts oysters and a wide variety of estuarine organisms.

Schicke Point Location Map and Photos

Schicke Point Report 10-30-22

Schicke Point Final Report 5-20-23

 

Environmental Research

The fate andToxicity of Microplastics Progress Report - November 2021 toxicity of microplastics and persistent pollutants in the shellfish and fish of Matagorda Bay – Texas A&M University - Galveston - ($499,953) - Contract #013

This project will study microplastics exposure of shellfish and fish from Matagorda Bay. (1) microplastics in surface waters and ingested by shellfish and fish will be determined in partnership with an existing program studying food webs of the bay. (2) persistent pollutant (PAHs, PCBs) bioaccumulation will be quantified in the same organisms, along with pollutant levels in surface waters and adsorbed to microplastics particles. (3) health effects of microplastics and pollutants will be studied using toxicity tests with embryo-larval fish. (4) educational outreach through an annual summer Sea Camp will be developed and taught to high school students visiting Texas A&M University - Galveston.

Toxicity of Microplastics Progress Report - August 2021

Toxicity of Microplastics Progress Report - November 2021

Toxicity of Microplastics Progress Report - February 2022

Toxicity of Microplastics Progress Report - May 2022

Toxicity of Microplastics Progress Report - August 2022

Toxicity of Microplastics Progress Report - November 2022

Toxicity of Microplastics Progress Report - February 2023

Toxicity of Microplastics Progress Report - May 2023

Toxicity of Microplastics Progress Report - August 2023

Toxicity of Microplastics Progress Report - November 2023

Toxicity of Microplastics Progress Report - February 2024

Toxicity of Microplastics Progress Report - May 2024

 

Long-term Trends in Lavaca-Colorado and Guadalupe Estuaries – Texas A&M University Corpus Christi ($159,055) - Contract #011

An earlier study demonstrated that benthic abundance, biomass, and diversity was declining at log-scale rates from 1988-2008 in the Lavaca-Matagorda Bays System. Is this still happening, and why is it happening at all? This study will attempt to answer the questions by completing a time series through 2019 in the Lavaca-Colorado and Guadalupe Estuaries, and examining monitoring data since 1991 from the Formosa discharge in Lavaca Bay. Response in the two systems should be the same if caused by natural variation. If not, water and sediment quality data could point to other possible causes.

Long-Term Trends Quarterly Report - June 2021

Long-Term Trends Quarterly Report - August 2021

Long-Term Trends Quarterly Report - November 2021

Long-Term Trends Quarterly Report - February 2022

Long-Term Trends Quarterly Report - June 2022

Long-Term Trends Quarterly Report - September 2022

Published Paper: Springer Nature October 27, 2022

Long-Term Trends FINAL REPORT December, 2022

 

Microplastic concentration in sediments and waters of Matagorda and San Antonio Bays: Initial assessment and mitigation plans – University of Texas - ($499,805) -  Contract #010

The project scope is to map the concentration of microplastic particles in the water and surface sediments (top 10 cm) of the Matagorda and San Antonio Bays. The expected outcome of the project is: (1) identification of the areas with high concentrations of microplastics in Matagorda and San Antonio Bays, (2) tracking down the most likely sources for microplastics in the Matagorda Bay (recent or past), and (3) understanding the microplastics transport pathways in the estuaries as floating in the water column, primary sources (entering the bay), and secondary sources (within the bay) such as erosion/resuspension and re-sedimentation.

Microplastics Concentration Progress Report - September 2021

Microplastics Concentration Progress Report - December 2021

Microplastics Concentration Progress Report - March 2022

Microplastics Concentration Progress Report - June 2022

Microplastics Concentration Progress Report - September 2022

Microplastics Concentration Progress Report - December 2022

Microplastics Concentration Progress Report - March 2023

Microplastics Concentration Progress Report - August 2023

Microplastics Concentration Progress Report - December 2023

 

Mercury and Plastic in Commercial and Recreational Fisheries in Lavaca, Matagorda, and San Antonio Bays: Risk Assessment and Interaction between the Two Contaminants – Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi - ($499,917) - Contract #012

Lavaca Bay is a probable source for plastic and mercury (Hg) which can be transported to surrounding bays. This study will investigate the prevalence of plastic, measure Hg concentrations, and calculate the selenium: mercury molar ratios in commercial and recreational fisheries (e.g., red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, shrimp, blue crab, oyster) in Lavaca, Matagorda, and San Antonio Bay. Experiments will investigate the extent Hg can bind to plastic and its potential role as a source of mercury to biota. The findings can be used to improve ecosystem and human health while aiding the recovery of economically important fisheries in the three bays.

Mercury and Plastics Quarterly Report - June 2021

Mercury and Plastics Quarterly Report - September 2021

Mercury and Plastics Quarterly Report - December 2021

Mercury and Plastics Quarterly Report - March 2022

Mercury and Plastics Quarterly Report - June 2022

Mercury and Plastics Quarterly Report - September 2022

Mercury and Plastics Quarterly Report - December 2022

Mercury and Plastics Quarterly Report - March 2023

Mercury and Plastics Quarterly Report - June 2023

Mercury and Plastics Quarterly Report - September 2023

Mercury and Plastics Report - December 2023

Mercury and Plastics Report - March 2024

Public Education

Coastal Ecology Education Equipment - Calhoun County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service/Texas Sea Grant - ($51,499) - Contract #005

Funds will be used to purchase supplies for coastal ecology educational programs that will be delivered to Calhoun County ISD, Calhoun County 4-H, Calhoun County YMCA and Calhoun County Commercial Fisherman/Fishing Guides (American Red Cross CPR and First Aid training leading to certification). People from the area surrounding Calhoun County will be invited to participate in some of these programs. Most of the programs will highlight the fish and wildlife habitats in Lavaca, Matagorda and San Antonio Bay as well as the Gulf Beach. All programs will provide hands-on learning components for the participants.

Calhoun County 4H Friend of 4H Award - 2022-23

Final Report - March 2022

Improving Public Access

Wetlands and Dune Habitat Acquisition in Matagorda County, Texas – Matagorda Bay Foundation - ($22,000) - Contract #008

This project will pay for property surveys, appraisals, and legal fees necessary to acquire a long-term conservation lease/easement with Matagorda County for approximately 47 acres of recently accreted beach habitat near Matagorda, Texas, and to determine boundaries and value of a proposed donation of almost 45 acres of valuable wetlands adjacent to Turtle Creek near Palacios, Texas.

Wetlands and Dune Habitat Acquisition Location Map and Photos

 

2021-2022 Proposals Awarded Under Paragraph 62

Habitat Restoration

Habitat Restoration of the Hog and Schwing Bayou Preserve, Calhoun County, TX– Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust - ($115,000) – Contract #029

This project includes coastal wetland, prairie and riparian habitat enhancement on an 817-acre property in Calhoun County owned by the Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust (GBRT). Working cooperatively, GBRT and partners plan to survey and assess habitat needs and hydrology; restore native plant communities; improve existing habitat to promote utilization by waterfowl, endangered Whooping Cranes, and other wildlife; install necessary infrastructure to allow for public access; and include demonstration, outreach and research opportunities. The project will enhance connectivity to healthy wildlife habitat corridors and provide additional contiguous public green space for managed recreation and education.

Habitat Restoration Progress Report 5-23

Habitat Restoration Progress Report 3-24

Vegetation and Floral Survey 3-24

 

Coastal Aquatic Plant Nursery and Restoration Outreach – Matagorda Bay Foundation - ($265,000) – Contract #027

There is growing need for aquatic plants for coastal restoration and mitigation. The majority of plants are currently being harvested from the wild adding immense pressure on existing marshes in Matagorda Bay. This project would test and develop facilities and grow out concepts for coastal plant species resulting in plant production utilizing a commercial aquaculture facility near Palacios which has the infrastructure and water available to support a coastal aquatic plant nursery. Upon completion, these plants would be harvested and utilized by the Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust and Matagorda Bay Foundation for conservation and to support public education / outreach.

Aquatic Nursery Report - May 2023

 

Enhancing Environmental Response, Conservation, and Education Opportunities in the Matagorda Bay Ecosystem – Matagorda Bay Foundation - ($62,000) – Contract #028

This project will fund the purchase of an outboard motorboat, trailer, and required safety equipment to expand   the Matagorda Bay Foundation’s capacity to 1) identify priority conservation/restoration needs and 2) diversify current outreach/education efforts, 3) enhance data collection, 4) increase planning and response capacity for environmental issues (freezes, pollution events etc.), 5) enable monitoring of dredge and fill, and other construction projects.

Enhancing Environmental Response - Final Report 3-15-23

 

Saving the Integrity of Keller Bay and Sand Point Peninsula – Texas A&M AgriLife Research - Texas A&M University - ($394,313) – Contract #026

The Sand Point Peninsula is at a tipping point.  Soon, it will fully breach and Keller Bay will cease to exist as a distinct unit from West Matagorda Bay. The central goal of this project is to protect the unique estuarine resources of Keller Bay by stopping the peninsula from breaching.

The project involves investigating and constructing a "Sand Engine" and living shoreline, which are nature-based designs that take advantage of natural wave action, littoral processes, and sedimentary resources. This project will enable coordination of an overall regional strategy among various project partners and deliver a shovel-ready project with permitted plans.

Keller Bay and Sand Point Peninsula Progress Report 9-22

Keller Bay and Sand Point Peninsula Progress Report 11-22

Keller Bay and Sand Point Peninsula Progress Report 3-23

Keller Bay and Sand Point Peninsula Progress Report 5-23

Keller Bay and Sand Point Peninsula Progress Report 11-23 Part A

Keller Bay and Sand Point Peninsula Progress Report 11-23 Part B

Keller Bay and Sand Point Peninsula Progress Report 11-23 Part C

Keller Bay and Sand Point Peninsula Progress Report 2-24

 

Restoring oyster reef habitat in Tres Palacios Bay and developing best practices for future restoration – Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi - ($399,816) – Contract #020

Oyster reefs are commercially and ecologically important in Matagorda Bay, enhancing commercial and recreational fisheries, improving water quality, increasing biodiversity, and protecting shorelines. However, substantial loss of oyster reef habitat has increased the need for restoration to replace this critical habitat and its functions. This project will restore approximately 2-3 acres of oyster reef in Tres Palacios Bay, a secondary bay to Matagorda Bay. The project will also evaluate established and aquaculture-enhanced techniques for reef restoration comparing reefs seeded with oysters via natural larval supply versus those supplemented with hatchery-reared larvae in order to recommend best practices for successful future restoration.

Restoring Oyster Reef Habitat Progress Report - June 2022

Restoring Oyster Reef Habitat Progress Report - September 2022

Restoring Oyster Reef Habitat Progress Report - December 2022

Restoring Oyster Reef Habitat Progress Report - March 2023

Restoring Oyster Reef Habitat Progress Report - September 2023

Restoring Oyster Reef Habitat Progress Report - March 2024

 

Environmental Research 

Trophic linkages and habitat connectivity of popular sportfish in the Matagorda Bay system – Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi - ($399,932) – Contract #022

Matagorda Bay supports important recreational fisheries. The overall goal of this study is to evaluate the movement patterns, trace element concentrations, and trophic linkages between three recreationally exploited sportfish species and their prey items in Matagorda Bay to determine whether movements throughout the bay system identified via acoustic tracking expose these sportfish to varying concentrations of trace elements. The rationale for this project is that elucidating sportfish movements, trophic linkages, and baseline contaminant levels will allow resource managers to make more informed decisions regarding management of these fisheries, public health, and priorities for restoration efforts within the Matagorda Bay system.

Trophic Linkages and Habitat Connectivity Quarterly Report - June 2022

Trophic Linkages and Habitat Connectivity Quarterly Report - September 2022

Trophic Linkages and Habitat Connectivity Quarterly Report - December 2022

Trophic Linkages and Habitat Connectivity Quarterly Report - March 2023

Trophic Linkages and Habitat Connectivity Quarterly Report - May 2023

Trophic Linkages and Habitat Connectivity Quarterly Report - August 2023

Trophic Linkages and Habitat Connectivity Report - December 2023

Trophic Linkages and Habitat Connectivity Report - March 2024

 

Assessing the threat of tire leachate and urban runoff on Matagorda Bay fish populations – University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute - ($399,965) – Contract #018

Urban runoff has long been linked to large-scale freshwater fish kills. Estimates state that Urban Runoff Mortality Syndrome (URMS) kills 40-90% of migrating salmon in the Pacific Northwest annually. Recently, 6PPD-quinone, a degradation product of tire wear particles (TWPs) was linked to URMS in salmonids; however, little is known about its environmental occurrence and/or potential to cause URMS in other species. Here, we propose to (1) characterize the occurrence of 6PPD-quinone and other toxic TWP compounds in Matagorda/San Antonio Bays, and (2) investigate the relative toxicities of TWP leachate and 6PPD-quinone to two native fishes, red drum, and sheepshead minnow.

Year 1 Progress Report - November 2022

Progress Report - February, 2023

Progress Report - October, 2023

 

Public Education

Coastal Explorers – Calhoun County ISD - ($223,650) – Contract #023

This project will develop curriculum and provide instruction for middle school students through an environmental science class that meets weekly to integrate science, local ecosystems and community involvement. This program will motivate students to become active citizens within their community while preparing them as future leaders who obtain a sense of ecological responsibility. The primary intent is to increase the students’ understanding of wetland, estuarine, and ocean systems, factors that influence them, and the students’ roles as coastal stewards resulting in an increase of student attendance and academic performance. The curriculum will be adaptive, so any teachers who work along the coastline can utilize it.

 

Improving Public Access

Hog Bayou Park Improvements - Calhoun County - ($141,000) – Contract #024

Hog Bayou Park provides boaters and fishermen a boat ramp and bank access to Hog and Goff Bayous.  This project consists of re-gravelling the vehicle area and reconstructing the existing old bulkhead to improve safe access to the bank shoreline and boat ramp. The project will also improve security and reduce dumping by installing trash bins, park rules signage and security cameras.

Photos of completed project - July 2023

 

Youth Camps

Matagorda Mañana – Texas Floating Classroom - ($91,200) – Contract #025

Matagorda Mañana will provide marine science cruises aboard the Texas Floating Classroom Research Vessel Archimedes for up to 3,000 middle school students out of Palacios, TX. Two classes will arrive on each bus, and while one class is out on the Archimedes, the other will be engaged in experiential environmental education lessons shoreside, which will be developed specifically for middle school students and shared with area districts. Any child with a smartphone and an interest in science can participate in various citizen science projects, and students will be encouraged to do so. (NOAA Marine Debris, Nurdle Patrol, Secchi Project, etc.)

 

2022-2023 Proposals Awarded Under Paragraph 62

Habitat Restoration

Oliver Point and Oliver Reef Restoration Project, Matagorda Bay Foundation, ($271,280) Contract #039

The Matagorda Bay Foundation proposes to continue work on a restoration plan for Oliver Point, Oliver reef and Coon Island Bay habitats (Oliver Point habitat complex). The Oliver Point habitat complex is located approximately 3 miles SSW of Palacios, Texas at the confluence of Tres Palacios and Matagorda Bays. The goal of the proposed project is to fund the final stages of engineering, design and permitting of a conceptual design to protect, restore, and enhance habitats at Oliver Point, and Oliver Point Reef. The first stage of engineering and design was funded by CEPRA and is 50% complete. The ultimate long-term goal is to restore the structure and biological functionality of the historic reef and wetlands at Oliver Point.

 

Matagorda Island Gulf Shoreline Erosion and Pass Cavallo Exchange Restoration, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, ($500,000) Contract #042

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) staff have identified a range of issues on ANWR’s federal lands, including approximately 10 miles of Gulf shoreline erosion. The Matagorda Island Gulf Shoreline Erosion and Pass Cavallo Exchange Restoration project includes the development of engineering and design solutions for shoreline stabilization to address accelerating erosion of Gulf beach and dune habitat. Stabilizing the shoreline and dune system has great potential to attenuate storm surge and damaging waves that would otherwise continue degrading the shoreline. Preventing erosion of the shoreline and dunes can improve habitat, maintain recreational opportunities, and protect the mainland shoreline and communities.

Progress Report 4-24

 

Environmental Research

Microplastic Distribution and Impacts to Diamond-backed Terrapin, Highlighting Public Education and Future Effects of Sea-Level Rise, University of Houston – Clear Lake, ($500,000) Contract #033

The goal of this project is to fill knowledge gaps through an interdisciplinary approach focused on shoreline habitats. Projections of future alterations to shoreline areas will help identify areas of interest. Evaluation of microplastic accumulation in a sentinel species (Diamond-backed Terrapin) and the habitats in which they reside will increase knowledge of contaminants. A focus on shoreline areas will also allow for the expansion of Nurdle Patrol efforts into areas inaccessible by the general public. Finally, expansion of educational opportunities to larger groups of students and education providers will increase exposure of environmental issues and topics related to Matagorda and San Antonio Bays.

Microplastic distribution Progress Report - 11-23

Microplastic distribution Progress Report - 2-24

 

Sediment Quality Assessment Survey of San Antonio Bay, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, ($416,817) Contract #035

There is a need for a sediment quality survey to determine if pollution is a factor in the ecological status of San Antonio Bay. Contaminants would indicate chemical dose, toxicity tests would indicate biological response, and benthic diversity would indicate ecological response. Sediment surveys are a common tool for ecosystem assessments to indicate bay health. At least 18 stations would be sampled over the entire system. The current proposal complements 2021-2022 MBMT Project 019, “Sediment Quality Assessment Survey of Lavaca-Matagorda Bay.” Together these studies will identify the potential role of pollution as an ecological driver in the two adjacent ecosystems.

Sediment Quality Assessment Progress Report 3-23

Sediment Quality Assessment Progress Report 6-23

Sediment Quality Assessment Progress Report 9-23

Sediment Quality Assessment Progress Report 12-23

Sediment Quality Assessment Progress Report 3-24

 

Evaluating photodegradation products of plastic nurdles and their toxicity in Matagorda Bay, University of Texas at Austin Marine Sciences Institute, ($499,500) Contract #037

Plastics, including nurdles, are accumulating in bays and estuaries at an alarming rate. While it is known that nurdles spilled into the environment negatively impact organisms and ecosystem health in different ways, some key scientific questions remain unanswered: how long will the nurdles last in the environment, what are their degradation products, and are these degradation products toxic? To address these questions, this study will photodegrade nurdles collected from Matagorda Bay in a solar simulator, identify photodegradation products, and evaluate their toxicity to fish. Results will greatly help management and policy making in the conservation of Texas bays and estuaries.

Photodegradation Progress Report 8-23

Photodegradation Progress Report 12-23

 

Reproductive and developmental toxicity of “Forever Chemicals” to Matagorda Bay’s prey fishes, University of Texas at Austin Marine Sciences Institute, ($396,691) Contract #038

PFAS are a class of nearly indestructible chemicals that are applied to a wide range of commercial and industrial products. These water-soluble “forever chemicals” have been extensively used for decades and are extremely mobile in aquatic environments. Consequently, any municipal/industrial/military releases can rapidly contaminate all hydrologically connected waters. PFAS are now detected in the blood of nearly all humans and wildlife; however, their presence and toxicity to marine biota remains largely unstudied. This study proposes to investigate the toxicity of PFAS to estuarine fish and characterize the occurrence and potential ecological risks of PFAS to Matagorda Bay.

Progress Report - October 2023

Progress Report - January 2024

 

Micro-plastics water column and sediment residence times: quantifying the cycling and flux between bay waters and sediment, and the burial history of micro-plastics within the Matagorda and San Antonio Bay Systems, Texas A&M University – Galveston, ($499,985) Contract #040

For the Matagorda and San Antonio Bay systems, this study aims to understand the cycling and flux of micro-plastics between bay waters and sediments, and to provide essential research data for monitoring and controlling the plastics pollution of the Matagorda Bay system, via: 1) quantifying the residence time and abundance of microplastics associated with suspended sediments; 2) evaluate the susceptibility of sediment resuspension and seabed mixing around the bay-system; and 3) reconstructing the record of the micro-plastic accumulation, its residence time within the surface mixed layer of the seabed and its vulnerability for resuspension spatially, around the both bay systems.

Progress Report - August 2023

Progress Report - September 2023

Progress Report - January 2024

 

Sediment mercury concentrations in the Closed Area of Lavaca Bay and the risk to wildlife from mercury remobilization during dredging, Texas State University, ($497,818) Contract #041

The Closed Area of Lavaca Bay is a mercury (Hg) Superfund site that is undergoing long-term environmental monitoring. The proposed Matagorda ship channel expansion project would dredge in the Closed Area and could remobilize Hg stored in sediment back into the bay. This study will investigate how sediment Hg concentrations vary with depth throughout the proposed dredging area and undertake lab-based toxicity and bioaccumulation experiments to determine whether the Hg-rich sediment is toxic to benthic organisms. Agencies can use the data to make informed decisions about how to dredge and dispose of the Hg-rich sediment to minimize its environmental impact.

Sediment Mercury Concentrations - Progress Report June 2023

Sediment Mercury Concentrations - Progress Report September 2023

Sediment Mercury Concentrations - Progress Report December 2023

 

Assessing the risk to ecosystem health from increasing nitrogen and phosphorus levels in Lavaca Bay, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, ($454,162) Contract #044

A recent synthesis of TCEQ water quality data found that areas within Lavaca Bay are displaying symptoms of nutrient enrichment, including increasing nitrogen, phosphorus, and chlorophyll (an indicator of phytoplankton/algal biomass) levels, and decreasing dissolved oxygen. If left unchecked, there is potential for this enrichment to harm the Lavaca Bay ecosystem. The aim of this study is to assess the sources of, and risks to water quality and ecosystem health from nutrients in Lavaca Bay. Results will support data-driven management and stakeholder efforts to address the nutrient issues before they become problematic, protecting the ecological health of this system.

Ecosystem Health Progress Report June 2023

Ecosystem Health Progress Report August 2023

Ecosystem Health Progress Report November 2023

Ecosystem Health Progress Report February 2024

 

Public Education:

Calhoun County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service | Texas Sea Grant | Calhoun County 4-H - Public Education, Calhoun County 4H Sportfishing Club, ($25,811) Contract #032

Funds for this project will be used to purchase supplies for watershed and waterbody educational programs related to the Lavaca, Matagorda, and San Antonio Bay watersheds/ecosystems. These programs will be delivered to Calhoun County ISD, Calhoun County 4-H, and Calhoun County YMCA. Teacher Professional Development Programs related to the watersheds named above will be offered to teachers in Austwell-Tivoli ISD, Calhoun ISD, Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic School, Industrial ISD, and Palacios ISD at no cost to the teachers and/or school districts. Once a teacher has gone through the professional development training, they will be eligible to check out any or all of the items from the Calhoun County Extension Office at no cost so they can use them in their classroom to provide hands-on learning components for their students.

Calhoun County 4H Friend of 4H Award - 2022-23

Calhoun County Texas AgriLife Final Report 2-24

 

Improving Public Access:

Bulkhead Improvements at Swan Point, Calhoun County, ($494,000) Contract #034

The county-owned boat launch at Swan Point is the only launch site that provides free direct access to San Antonio Bay from Calhoun County. This project will protect the shoreline at the boat parking area with the installation of vinyl sheet piling to reinforce the deteriorating bulkhead and with the construction of a concrete cap and sidewalk along the bulkhead to stop erosion. Park amenities will increase with the construction of concrete sidewalks, an ADA parking space, a free fishing pier with lighting and water, and a fish-cleaning station on the pier.

 

Harbor of Refuge Old Landfill Shoreline Erosion Response and Protection - Phase 1 Engineering, City of Port Lavaca, ($200,000) Contract #043

Land south and west of the City's Harbor of Refuge is a former Municipal Landfill, closed in 1979. Significant erosion has caused trash cells to become exposed along portions of the channel, posing a source of pollution into Lavaca Bay and creating an unsightly mess. The City proposes to construct approximately 1,800 linear feet of shoreline protection to address this issue. Phase 1 engineering will provide 30% design, GLO CEPRA grant application and submittal-ready Regulatory permitting.

 

Youth Camps:

Palacios Summer Day Camp, Calhoun County YMCA, ($186,213) Contract #036

Funds for this project will be used to purchase supplies for environmental educational programs that will be delivered to the youth in Palacios. This project will be using the model from the Calhoun County YMCA Summer STEM Program by taking kids out into the bay; teaching them about the natural environment and taking them on field trips and other hands-on activities to serve the youth of Palacios. Most of the programs will highlight the environment and wildlife habitats in Matagorda Bay as well as the Gulf Beach Area. All programs will provide hands- on learning components for the youth. These programs will help enforce education components that are not touched on in school.

Summer 2023 Report

Summer 2023 Video: youtu.be

 

2023-2024 Proposals Awarded Under Paragraph 62

Habitat Restoration

Derelict Crab Trap Removal Project: Texas Mid-Coast, San Antonio Bay Partnership, ($25,000) Contract #049

The San Antonio Bay Partnership will recruit, train, and support volunteers in and around Espiritu Santo and San Antonio Bays to locate and remove abandoned crab traps to clean up surrounding bay systems. The San Antonio Bay Partnership will provide supplies, training and data collection protocols for the Aransas, San Antonio, and Matagorda Bay systems in a coordinated effort.

 

Community Engagement to Reduce Abandoned Crab Traps: Texas Mid-Coast, San Antonio Bay Partnership, ($50,000) Contract #052

Data collected by San Antonio Bay Partnership’s volunteer-driven participation in the Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program indicates that about half of the traps removed each February from the San Antonio Bay System are wind-blown to the shoreline, making retrieval by commercial crab fishermen unlikely. The proposed program would implement a retrieval program after wind-storm events to pick up the wind-blown traps and return them to the crabbers for continued use. In conjunction with this effort, the program would develop a retired trap disposal program that recycles old and damaged traps to a metal recycling shop. The San Antonio Bay Partnership will hire a local community liaison to achieve these goals.

 

Carancahua Bay Community Reef Restoration – Phase I, Matagorda Bay Foundation, ($55,940) Contract #056

This project will conduct all biological, cultural, and historical surveys and prepare permits and leases (Phase I) for a proposed 10-acre submerged oyster reef located in Carancahua Bay, Texas (Texas General Land Office Tier I project). Historically, Carancahua Bay was a popular destination for recreational anglers and an abundant source of oysters for both recreational and commercial oyster harvesters. Over the past decade anglers and residents have reported declines in recreational angling success on the reef as commercial harvest pressure increased. A Texas Parks and Wildlife Department ban of oyster harvest in Carancahua Bay will protect the restored/enhanced reef.

 

Protection and Restoration of Matagorda Island West Marsh, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge – Phase II, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, ($200,000) Contract #062

Hurricane Harvey passed directly over Matagorda Island, heavily damaging the levees and water control infrastructure in the West Marsh. Using funds from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas General Land Office, and a previous grant from the Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust, the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program partnered with Aransas National Wildlife Reserve to repair the damaged infrastructure. The project was bid in June 2023 and included repairs at five locations. The Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program received one bid which exceeded the opinion of probable cost by 44%. An additional $423,011 was secured from the Texas General Land Office, allowing the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program to award the project but only included two of the five sites. The Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program will use the funds from this award to add two of the remaining three sites.

Progress Report 4-24

 

Marine Debris Removal on Matagorda Island, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, ($500,000) Contract #063

The Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program (CBBEP) is requesting funds to work with partners to remove marine debris and hazardous materials that have accumulated on the Matagorda Island Gulf shoreline in the 5+ years since the last major beach cleanup. This work will improve and restore critical coastal habitats for wildlife and fisheries and improve the overall health of the ecosystem through pollution reduction. Matagorda Island is part of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve (MA NERR), both of whom are partners on this project. Funding from this award will be used for contractor’s labor, equipment, supplies, and materials costs.

Progress Report 4-24

 

Aransas NWR Habitat Restoration, Texas RICE, ($115,000) Contract #064

The objective of this project is to restore 3,250 acres of native prairie and wetland habitat on the Aransas NWR and the Foester Whitmire NWR, which is a unit of the Aransas NWR system near Indianola. This includes eliminating invasive species and refurbishing wetland units which are critical habitat to many species wildlife, including the endangered whooping crane. It will also provide important water quality values.

 

Environmental Research

Mid-Coast Sea Turtle Rescue Program, San Antonio Bay Partnership, ($14,280) Contract #051

The project aims to recruit and mobilize volunteers to rescue turtles in San Antonio, Espiritu Santo, and Matagorda Bays in response to winter storms that drop water temperatures to below 50 degrees F. In addition to cold-stunned rescues, the team also responds to other turtle strandings through the Sea Turtle Stranding & Salvage Network (STSSN) for those bays and their Gulf beaches. Rescued turtles are transported to Amos Rehab Keep or Texas A&M University - Galveston for treatment and rehabilitation. The funding from this award will provide supplies for the volunteers, boat and transport fuel, and public outreach and education, planning and implementation.

 

Matagorda Bay Benthic Habitat Mapping and Assessment, Matagorda Bay Foundation, ($489,950) Contract #055

This study involves a comprehensive benthic habitat characterization of those portions of Matagorda Bay not previously surveyed or documents, to build upon best available science and survey protocols for the Texas Gulf Coast. An acoustic remote sensing survey is proposed using side-scan sonar and a single beam echosounder to map potential benthic habitats including oyster reefs, seagrasses, open bay bottom, and other features of interest to the scientific and public communities. Physical investigations and ground-truthing of the remote sensing dataset will be conducted to verify habitat signatures and collect biological information. Upon completion, a comprehensive ecological baseline for future planning will be established, and aid immensely in the development, design, and implementation of future habitat restoration projects in Matagorda Bay.

 

Mercury exposure through seafood consumption in the Matagorda Bay system: human health study and public education, Texas State University, ($474,900) Contract #065

Humans are primarily exposed to mercury (Hg) through seafood consumption. This study will investigate people’s exposure to Hg through seafood consumption in the Matagorda Bay system using hair Hg analysis and surveys focusing on demographic factors, seafood consumption patterns, and health issues associated with Hg toxicity. In addition, social media accounts will be created and a website constructed to educate the public on the toxicology research occurring in the Matagorda Bay system, with the focus on the Alcoa (Point Comfort)/Lavaca Bay Hg Superfund site. Social media posts and the website will be written in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

 

Resuspension of contaminants in the Matagorda Bay due to storms, ship traffic, and dredging activities, University of Texas at Austin Marine Sciences Institute, ($433,113) Contract #066

Coastal sediments serve as final repositories for various contaminants resulting from human activities, like microplastics, organic pollutants, and heavy metals. While deep burial reduces their impact on marine life, sediment resuspension caused by natural events and human activities remains a concern. This project will collect sediment samples, simulate resuspension in the lab, and measure the release of contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and trace elements (Hg and others). The overall goal is to address a simple question: how do storms, dredging and ship traffic affect the resuspension of contaminants in Matagorda Bay?

 

Are benefits of freshwater inflow confounded with degradation by non-point source pollution in Lavaca and Matagorda Bays?, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, ($411,853) Contract #068

Recent surveys in Lavaca and Matagorda Bays found poor sediment quality near creek, stream, and river mouths, suggesting most contamination is due to non-point source pollution. Other research demonstrates freshwater inflow maintains estuary health and productivity. So, are freshwater inflows good or bad? Targeted measurements of sediment chemistry, toxicity, and benthic diversity in 18 stations near creek and river mouths will be used to answer this question. The study complements Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust  Contracts 019 and 035, so together, these studies will distinguish potential roles of inflow and pollution as ecological drivers and identify management strategies for restoring bay health.

Progress Report - 3-31-24

 

Nurdle Count – A machine learning approach to nurdle classification and quantification, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi - Conrad Blucher Institute, ($284,505) Contract #070

This Nurdle Count project aims to develop a machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) approach to classify and quantify nurdles. These small plastic pellets contribute to microplastic pollution in oceans and waterways. The project will use computer vision to detect nurdles, distinguish them from other particles, and provide an accurate count to users via the Nurdle Patrol Website and Mobile Applications. By automating the counting process, this project seeks to improve the efficiency and accuracy of nurdle data collection, ultimately supporting environmental research, advocacy, and policy change.

 

MIRROR: a Microplastic Raman Optical Rover to Understand Microplastics Variability Along Beaches of Matagorda Peninsula, University of Texas at Austin, ($500,000) Contract #072

This project proposes the design and development of an autonomous rover for mapping microplastics on the ground, and the use of the rover to map the variability of the microplastics along the beach sediments of the Matagorda Peninsula. Mapping the distribution of microplastics in sediments along beaches is the first step toward understanding the dynamics of the microplastics in beach environments, and identifying the locus where these might concentrate. An autonomous rover will increase the number of microplastics observations in comparison to manual sampling, and will give better understanding of microplastic behavior, which will lead to more effective mitigation solutions.

 

Environmental Advocacy:

San Antonio & Espiritu Bay Shoreline Plastics Debris Clean-Up & Reduction, San Antonio Bay Partnership, ($36,000) Contract #050

San Antonio Bay Partnership volunteer driven efforts over the last 4 years has removed over 8 tons of marine debris, including over 9300 plastic bottles with an annual cleanup event. With this award the San Antonio Bay Partnership will continue this work in 2024 and expand the effort to include an outreach and education campaign to reduce littering both on the bay and on the river that feeds it. This campaign will be conducted with local partners and by using social media, local media, and educational signage.

 

Public Education:

Matagorda County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service / Texas Sea Grant / Texas 4-H Public Education, Matagorda County 4H Adult Leaders Club, ($15,525) Contract #061

Funds from this award will be used to purchase supplies for environmental educational programs that will be delivered to Bay City ISD, Matagorda ISD, Palacios ISD, Tidehaven ISD, Van Vleck ISD, Matagorda County 4-H, YMCA-Palacios Programs, and YMCA-Bay City Programs. People from the area surrounding Matagorda County will be invited to participate in some of these programs. Most of the programs will focus on the habitats, ecosystems, and the rich diversity of fish and wildlife in both Matagorda Bay and the Gulf beach. All programs will provide adaptive hands-on learning components for the participants.

 

Youth Camps:

Connecting Youth to Matagorda Bay Using Art and Literature – Creating a More Resilient Coast Through Youth Advocacy and Conservation, Matagorda Bay Foundation, ($24,435) Contract #054

Engage local youth in marine sciences and conservation through individual expression in art and literature. The proposed project will build on past successes of the Matagorda Bay Bird Fest Youth Art Contest and include a series of youth writing seminars from the author of a recently published children’s book about Matagorda Bay – Matagorda Magic - The Hidden Life of a Texas Bay TAMU press.

 

Improving Public Access:

City of Port Lavaca Downtown Waterfront Public Access Improvements, City of Port Lavaca, ($400,000) Contract #053

This project will construct three (3) transient boat slips and an ADA compliant dock for fishing and crabbing in Smith Harbor. The project includes a lighted 10 ft wide concrete shared use path for walking/biking along the waterfront to connect the dock and boat slips to the existing shared use path and other amenities in Bay Front Peninsula Park. To provide safe and accessible access to these improvements, the project also includes renovations to an existing parking area and adding vegetated strip filters and other green infrastructure to filter storm runoff into the bay from the pavement.

 

Bill Sanders Memorial Park Pavilion and Shade Canopy, Calhoun County, ($319,000) Contract #057

Bill Sanders Memorial County Park is a free rural park, open every day. It is located on San Antonio Bay near Seadrift. The County is adding new improvements to bring more visitors to the park. The purpose of this project is to construct an outdoor pavilion and to provide shading over the existing playground structure and swings.

 

Shoreline Preservation and Public Access Improvement to Lavaca River at FM 616 in Lolita, Texas, Jackson County, ($500,000) Contract #058

Jackson County desires to improve public access to the Lavaca River and preserve the shoreline at FM 616 in Lolita, Texas. This project will replace the wooden bulkhead and boat dock with a more permanent structure, widen the boat ramp from 18 ft. to 28 ft and install a 4 ft. walkway between the boat lanes, construct a 4 ft. ADA compliant sidewalk along the side of boat ramp and the shoreline, and repair the asphalt parking lot to include clearly marked parking spaces with two ADA compliant handicapped spaces. If the budget allows the project will include the installation of a light at boat ramp and three (3) park benches.

 

Matagorda Beach Public Access Improvements, Matagorda County, ($395,000) Contract #059

Matagorda Beach is one of the only gulf-facing public beaches in Matagorda County with vehicular access. However, a high volume of visitor traffic often limits parking availability, especially during peak season; the beach is also often inaccessible to vehicles as the result of beach conditions and flooding events. Matagorda County and the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) will use the funds from this award for planning, engineering design, and permitting for a permeable parking lot, dune walkover, picnic area, restroom, and educational signage at the entrance to Matagorda Beach. Collectively, these amenities will enhance public access and education while protecting the beach dune system.

 

Matagorda Bay Clean Water Project, City of Palacios, ($497,000) Contract #060

The goals of the City of Palacios Clean Water project are to encourage responsible and clean use of our bay and to encourage outdoor recreation for mental and physical health reasons. This project will allow for additional park improvements that have not been available previously to encourage use of Matagorda Bay by  adding kayaking, additional fish cleaning stations, trash cans, lighting, and a splash pad for playing next to the water and learning about water animals.

 

Shoreline Protection and Restoration at Olivia Haterius County Park, Calhoun County, ($2,100,000) Contract #TBD

This project is listed as a Tier One project in the Texas General Land Office 2023 Resiliency Plan. It would provide shoreline protection and restoration along approximately 1,350 LF of park shoreline. The existing bulkhead would be replaced; a new breakwater would be constructed to protect the boat ramp area; the revetment along the western end of the park that protects the park road would be improved; and marsh areas along the shorelines would be renourished. Funding from the Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust will be used to fund the local match contribution up to $2,100,000 and is awarded contingent upon Calhoun County receiving Texas General Land Office or other funding for the remainder of the project costs within 3 years of award of Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust funding.

 

Boggy Nature Park Shoreline Stabilization, Calhoun County, ($2,100,000) Contract #TBD

This project is listed as a Tier One project in the Texas General Land Office 2023 Resiliency Plan and is the final phase of a shoreline project that is currently being done by Calhoun County and the Texas General Land Office. The project would involve bid procurement and construction to protect approximately 3,650 LF of natural, unprotected shoreline along Boggy Bayou Nature Park. The park is a popular location for outdoor enthusiasts. It provides free public access for the non-boater to both Boggy Bayou and Matagorda Bay. Restoring and protecting the shoreline is vital for bank fishing, swimming, birding and kayaking in both Matagorda Bay and Boggy Bayou, and for securing public access to park amenities.  Funding from the Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust will be used to fund the local match contribution up to $2,100,000 and is awarded contingent upon Calhoun County receiving Texas General Land Office or other funding for the remainder of the project costs within 3 years of award of Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust funding.