Texas Gulf Coast

Texas coast credit Earl Notthingham TPWDv2 Photo courtesy of Earl Nottingham/TPWD Photo courtesy of Earl Nottingham/TPWD

Texas’ 367 miles of coastline includes seven major coastal estuaries, or bays, formed where fresh water from rivers mixes with the saltier water of the Gulf of Mexico. This mixture of salt and fresh water in addition to sediments and nutrients from the fresh water, is vital for fish, shrimp, oysters, and many species of bird.

Texas is a dry state with a rapidly growing population and increasing water demands. Projections indicate that many of the state’s bays could end up chronically deprived of freshwater, particularly during drought. Guaranteeing ample fresh water in Texas’ bays during droughts is one of the most important things we can do to protect our fish and wildlife resources.

Why Should You Care?

If you fish or hunt in Texas, this sportsman playground should matter to you:

  • Keeping our bays healthy and restoring habitats will protect and enhance a $1.8 billion saltwater recreational fishing economy.
  • Texas’ commercial and recreational fishing industries generates more than $4 billion each year.
  • Mottled ducks, year-round residents on the Texas Coast, have declined by roughly two-thirds over the past decades-in large part due to the decline in freshwater wetlands and marsh habitats.
  • Coastal tourism supports over 4,000 businesses and nearly 17,000 associated jobs in Texas.

Priority Restoration Projects

All of these projects are designed to help improve long-term resiliency of coastal habitats. View the full explanation of these projects in NWF’s latest report.

Nueces Bay Productivity Enhancement through Wastewater Delivery

The Nueces Bay estuary system near Corpus Christi is a popular recreational fishing area that provides important fishery habitat and supports numerous species of birds and other wildlife. Scientists monitoring the ecology of Nueces Bay have determined that reduced freshwater and nutrients flowing into the estuary, due to human alternation, are radically changing the system and now deemed “ecologically unsound”.

San Antonio Bay Freshwater Inflows

The San Antonio Bay estuary system provides an abundance of important habitat for fish and wildlife as well as excellent recreational opportunities. The estuary depends heavily on freshwater flowing from the Guadalupe and San Antonio rivers.

Matagorda Bay Estuary System

The Matagorda Bay estuary system is located on the central Texas coast and provides important habitat for a wide variety of fish and wildlife.

Freshwater from the Colorado River – This project involves purchasing an ongoing right to have water delivered to the estuary from new storage facilities that are planned for imminent development.

Freshwater from Tributary Streams – By limiting water withdrawals on one or more streams that reach the bay at a key location, this project will help moderate salinity levels during dry periods to provide a refuge area.

Galveston Bay Freshwater Inflows

Galveston Bay is the largest and most biologically productive estuary in Texas. It provides abundant fish and wildlife habitats with diverse recreational opportunities for a population of about 4.5 million people in surrounding counties.

Salt Bayou Siphons

The Salt Bayou system comprises approximately 139,000 acres and contains the largest contiguous estuarine marsh complex in Texas. The Salt Bayou encompasses freshwater and estuarine marsh, coastal prairie, tidal flats and freshwater creeks. The habitat is beneficial such as speckled trout, redfish, Southern flounder, shrimp and blue crabs. However, it has been significantly damaged by a long history of land development, including the construction of a rail line and the dredging of the Gulf Intracoastal Water Way.

Paso Corvinas Wetlands at the Bahia Grande

The Bahia Grande once served as an important nursery for a wide variety of fish and shellfish as well as important habitat for wildlife and wintering waterfowl. However, for nearly 70 years the degraded wetlands was a source of blowing dust and a site of massive fish kills. In 2005, a pilot channel was constructed and waters began flowing into the main basin again. The recommended next phase of the project focuses on Paso Corvinas. Previously it was a tidally influenced wetland, but a land barrier has formed in recent years cutting Paso Corvinas off from Bahia Grande.

Investing in Texas’ waters, wetlands and fisheries will improve our economy and will preserve our coastal heritage for our children. The federal fines and penalties from the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster could be used to restore Mississippi Sound and its oyster reefs, wetlands and barrier islands. Unless hunters and anglers speak up, this money might well be spent on unrelated efforts that will not benefit the coast and could even harm it.

Duck Hunt credit tpwd Photo: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Photo: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Take Action

Learn how you can help restore the Texas Coast >>

Related Information

- Sign-on letter to the Governor >>
- Lonestar Outdoor News – RestoreTheTexasCoast.org unveiled, Texas anglers encouraged to comment
- National Sportsman’s Group Urges Gulf Restoration Council to Prioritize Ecosystem Projects
- Download the Water for the Texas Coast factsheet.

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