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12 Jefferson County coastal resiliency projects are considered priority

The McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge siphon along the GIWW was a featured stop during a tour highlighting the successes and ongoing efforts to repair marshlands, coastal waterways and beaches in a 10-plus year Salt Bayou Marsh Restoration Plan in Jefferson County. The nearly $3 million project is a combined effort of multiple county, state, federal and private partnerships "to restore and maintain ecological functions and values to reverse the decline" occurring rapidly in the 139,000 acre Salt Bayou coastal marsh ecosystem, according to material provided by the project.

Posted on April 10, 2023

Neches River forested floodplain buyouts, North Pleasure Island Shoreline restoration and Texas Point marsh conservation are among 12 Jefferson County projects that a state agency has included in its plan of key projects to receive funding.

Texas Land Commissioner Dawn Buckingham on Monday  announced  that the Texas General Land Office had selected 121 projects, including 12 in Jefferson County and five in Orange County, to be included in “Tier 1” of its 2023 Texas Coastal Restoration Master Plan.

“I’m extremely grateful to Commissioner Buckingham for speeding up these appropriations and am more thankful that Jefferson County accounts for about 9% of funding for the coast,” Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said. “This allows us to continue the great work being done with BP oil spill funding and is a dramatic step forward in coastal resilience.”

According to the a news release from the General Land Office, the plan helps create a “framework to address coastal hazards and direct investments to protect natural and man-made coastal environments.”

General Land Office Communications Director for Community Development and Revitalization Brittany Eck said that the projects’ inclusion on the four-year plan does not necessarily mean they will be funded. It just makes the projects a priority.

“The Texas Coastal Restoration Master Plan does not have a funding mechanism, but evaluation by the Texas Coastal Restoration Master Plan Technical Advisory Committee and Tier One designation does provide additional credibility and priority status when applying for various funding streams,” Eck said. “For example, the GLO is currently accepting Coastal Management Program Grant Cycle 29 and Coastal Erosion Planning Response Act applications, which are due June 7.”

The Technical Advisory Commission is made up of hundreds of local officials, academics, scientists, those with coastal preservation and restoration backgrounds and others. The commission works together to determine the top priority projects for funding.

“Having the credibility of being a tier one project is going to help facilitate funding more quickly than had they not been ranked in this plan,” Eck said. “It not only says that these projects are a priority for the local community, it also says that they’ve already been through a round of vetting for various different criteria that all of these individuals look for. So it does give that credibility that it already has met some level of scrutiny.”

Projects including Jefferson County total $190 million in work, while Orange County’s total $54.8 million.

“Hurricanes Rita and Ike caused a lot of coastal degradation in Jefferson County,” Branick said. “These projects will address many of those issues, as well as salt water intrusion, dune restoration and other issues which will make inland marshes healthier, improve carbon sequestration, reestablish threatened species and make our coastal environs more resistant to future storm damage.”



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