(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:
The Federation may make zero interest loans to the Cooperative(s) for:
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.
(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.
Link to the Calhoun County Parks Improvement Plan 2021 (Green Lake Park is located on Pages 69-77)
(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 Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0w6XRQU6-4
Summer 2021 Video: https://youtu.be/D_AKLT0fq5Q
(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.
(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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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:
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.
2020-2021 Proposals Awarded Under Paragraph 62
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.
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.
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.
The fate and 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2021-2022 Proposals Awarded Under Paragraph 62
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)