HARLINGEN — The final tranche of money from the Deepwater Horizon settlement has been awarded, and $5.6 million is earmarked for restoration of the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge’s Bahia Grande unit.
Bahia Grande is a vast area of coastal plain and wetlands located between Port Isabel and Brownsville. Laguna Atascosa NWR acquired the 21,700-acre tract in 2000.
The funding will consist of two components, the first of which will complete design and construction of breakwaters to protect three bird nesting islands which total 17 acres.
Phase II of the project will restore the hydrology of the Paso Corvinas wetlands, totaling 670 acres. Historic channelization and irrigation lead to high salinities and frequent drying out.
The project will re-establish a natural flow of water through the Paso Corvinas, restoring what were historically productive coastal wetlands, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation reported.
“The GEBF (Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund) represents an historic opportunity that arose from an unprecedented tragedy,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
“Working closely with our partners in Texas, we have made strategic investments that will help to remedy the harm done by the spill and will forge a lasting legacy of conservation that will sustain fish, wildlife and their natural habitats,” he added. “These once-in-a-lifetime, landscape-level projects will also boost the resilience and productivity of the Texas coast for generations to come.”
Since its inception, the Deepwater Horizon fund, the GEBF, has supported 61 natural resource projects in Texas and partnered with more than 35 public agencies and conservation organizations.
These projects leverage or complement other conservation investments that total more than $185 million, creating a total conservation impact of nearly $390 million, the NFWF said.