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The Brownwood Marsh Restoration Project/The Baytown Nature Center – Multiple Mitigation Projects
The Brownwood Marsh Restoration project was originally required as mitigation for impacts to wetlands by the French Limited Superfund Site. Twenty-eight potential sites were evaluated between the Lake Houston Dam and Galveston Bay. Conceptual designs were generated for the four top candidate sites. The former Brownwood Subdivision in Baytown, Texas, was selected as the preferred site, and a detailed design was generated for the mitigation project at this location.
Crouch Environmental Services developed a 450-acre master plan for a wildlife refuge at this location. Crouch Environmental Services provided overall project management for site selection, permitting, design and construction of a new 60-acre coastal wetland at the site. The design included the creation of 40 acres of new saline marsh, 10 acres of deepwater channels allowing tidal influence from the bay, and 10 acres of forested islands supporting shallow freshwater ponds.
Crouch Environmental Services obtained necessary permits for impacts to Waters of the US, cultural resources, and vegetation impacts on behalf of the client in a timely and ultimately cost-saving manner. Construction of the project began in November 1994 and was completed in June 1995. Planting of the new marsh was completed in August 1995. Crouch Environmental Services was responsible for on-going maintenance of the site for five years as requested by the client and the state and federal oversight committee, including representatives from the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, National Marine Fisheries Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas General Land Office, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Crouch Environmental Services and the client met regularly with these entities to ensure successful implementation of the project.
A large portion of the site was designed so that private industries, non-profit environmental groups, and municipalities with mitigation requirements could select and participate in the construction of specific features of the project. Types of projects that could be sponsored include wetlands construction, wooden boardwalks, tree planting, and creation of freshwater ponds.
The City of Baytown subsequently adopted the successful project and designated it as the “Baytown Nature Center.” This project has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and television specials.
Greens Bayou Wetland Mitigation Bank Site Development Plan, Harris County Flood Control District
In coordination with the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD), Crouch Environmental Services, Inc. prepared a master Site Development Plan (SDP) for improvements and enhancements to 669 acres of the Greens Bayou Wetland Mitigation Bank (GBWMB), a 1,450 acre mitigation bank and wildlife refuge located in northeastern Harris County, Texas. Preparation of the SDP required data and impact analysis for wetland species, ground and surface water quality, cultural resources, and other environmental issues.
Both branches of Crouch Environmental Services, Inc. participated in creation of the highly illustrative and technical SDP, which incorporated numerous environmental surveys and assessments. Crouch Communications designed the SDP document to synthesize technical information while concurrently making it accessible and easy to understand for a variety of audiences. The SDP provided guidance for development of the GBWMB including philosophies, goals and objectives, estimated development phases, and anticipated ecological improvements.
The development of the SDP included the following:
- Managing brainstorming meetings between HCFCD, Crouch Environmental Services biologists, and various stakeholders
- A study of the undeveloped acreage in the GBWMB to determine enhanced wetland mitigation opportunities
- Creation of implementation and maintenance strategies in the GBWMB
- Coordination with the US Army Corps of Engineers, HCFCD, hydraulic and hydrologic specialists, and other stakeholders in creation of the SDP
- Creation of the highly illustrative SDP document with graphics that visually communicate the development of 669 acres of the GBWMB
100-Acre Mitigation Site at Sanctuary at Costa Grande, D.H. Texas Development
The Sanctuary at Costa Grande is located on the west side of Matagorda Bay south of State Highway 185 between Seadrift and Port O'Connor, Texas. To take advantage of the coastal landscape and aesthetic appeal of the surrounding environment, proximity to popular outdoor amenities, and growing demand for seaside single family luxury housing, D.H. Texas Development planned to construct a luxury waterfront residential community on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The approximately 900-acre development site was a mosaic of open water, submerged habitat, emergent fresh and salt water wetlands, and upland communities.
CESI conducted baseline environmental assessments and prepared, coordinated, and secured a United States Army Corps of Engineers Section 404/401 permit to authorize construction and subsequent development of the access canals, marina, and residential development. The project impacted approximately 54 acres of jurisdictional waters of the United States including fresh water wetlands, tidal estuarine wetlands, sea grasses, and open water. In order to provide mitigation for the impacts to waters of the United States, CESI worked closely with resource agencies, including the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and National Marine Fisheries Service to develop an on-site compensatory mitigation plan.
The comprehensive mitigation plan included the preservation of approximately 113 acres of estuarine wetlands and the construction of a 40-acre freshwater wetland, a 20-acre tidal marsh, and 2 acres of seagrass beds. The preservation areas were placed under a deed restriction so that they would be preserved in perpetuity, prohibiting any further development in these locations. The 40-acre freshwater wetland and 20-acre tidal marsh were excavated from existing upland areas. The elevations for these mitigation sites were constructed to an appropriate grade where the hydrology of freshwater wetlands would be supported by a close connection to the groundwater table and the tidal marsh would receive daily tidal flushing via a tidal channel to the Intracoastal Waterway.
The project site was located in close proximity to the Aransas National Wildlife refuge, which is designated as critical habitat for an endangered bird species, the whooping crane (Grus americana). Whooping cranes are dependent upon healthy coastal ecosystems for foraging and nesting. Following construction and vegetation establishment of the mitigation sites, whooping crane were observed on-site utilizing these areas which is indicative that these sites are providing suitable habitat for these endangered species.
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