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Jefferson County
Texas Sportsmen’s Summit urges rapid completion of Deepwater Horizon restoration projects in Jefferson County
News Release
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Beaumont, Texas - Twenty-one Texas sportsmen’s non-profit organizations have adopted “Findings and Recommendations” being sent to Texas Governor Greg Abbott and state natural resource agency leaders urging ‘fast track’ completion of the Salt Bayou Watershed Restoration Plan in Jefferson County. The Salt Bayou Plan seeks to fortify Jefferson County’s marshes which are the largest contiguous coastal marshes in Texas.

The document was developed by representatives of six groups that conducted a two-day site visit ‘summit’ in September including Ducks Unlimited, Houston Safari Club, the Texas Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Texas Wildlife Association, the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society and the Texas Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.

The six groups attending the “summit” circulated the findings and recommendations among Texas Outdoor Partners members in Austin and 15 other NGO’s signed on amplifying their four key recommendations: Recommendations

1. Completion of the McFaddin Beach and Dune restoration project prior to the 2019 Hurricane Season.

2. The expedient 404 permitting and approval of freshwater siphon projects and timely completion of the two proposed siphons that would move fresh water north of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) to the Salt Bayou watershed south of the GIWW.

3. Continued installation of breakwaters along the GIWW, including working with private land holders to limit land loss along the GIWW from the wakes of numerous industrial barges on the busiest stretch of the GIWW that some estimate to be the nation’s most valuable man-made inland waterway.

4. Ongoing beneficial use of dredge material in wetland restoration projects on private, state and federal lands in Jefferson County.

Those four recommendations accompany twenty-two ‘findings’ about other Salt Bayou Plan projects such as the Keith Lake Fish Pass baffle and a twenty-mile clay berm set back from the county’s current shoreline.

The findings by the sportsmen’s summit include statements about the prehistoric soil formation of the Texas Chenier Plain region, higher than normal biodiversity present in this area of coastal Texas, the region’s cultural significance and its importance for energy and national security as well as the outdoor recreation benefits from nature-based tourism in Jefferson County that provides a local quality of life amenity provided by 205,000 acres of public land in the Texas Chenier Plain.

Those public lands in Jefferson County include the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge, J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area and the Texas Point National Wildlife Refuge as well as other important public lands in the Texas Chenier Plain including the Lower Neches River Wildlife Management Area and Tony Houseman Wildlife Management Area in Orange County, the Anahuac and Moody National Wildlife Refuges in Chambers County, as well as the U.S. Army Corps Wallisville Recreation Area in Chambers and Liberty counties and the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in Liberty County.

“The Commissioners Court is grateful for this focused and timely attention by sportsmen and women on the county’s top Deepwater Horizon restoration goals,” said Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick. “The timely completion of the McFaddin beach and dune ridge sand nourishment and the installation of the freshwater siphons before the 2019 hurricane season could be critical to block storm surge especially in light of Hurricane Michael that became a ‘pop-up’ monster in about five-day’s time before hammering the Florida Panhandle.”

Ducks Unlimited helped Texas Parks and Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife Service and other cooperating state and federal agencies draft the Salt Bayou Plan starting in 2000 and adopted in 2013.

“It’s hard to overstate the importance of the upper Texas coast for game and non-game species of migratory birds,” said Dr. Todd Merendino, DU’s Southwest Manager of Conservation. “The area’s restoration is a central component of the Chenier Plain Joint Venture’s science based vision to boost migratory waterfowl in two million acres in Texas and 4.5 million acres in Southwest Louisiana with Jefferson County’s marshes being among the most critical for fish and wildlife as well as vital storm surge protection for what is really an economic and national security powerhouse.”

Projects completed and pending future projects for which $95 million in Deepwater Horizon and Hurricane Harvey funds have been approved by state and federal agencies.

Remembering Jim Guidry

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