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SPI embarks on beach, sand dune restoration

A worker with Coastal Plantings gets ready to put up a section of the fencing.

Posted on January 31, 2024

A wooden fence along the beach and as long as the Town of South Padre Island?

And how about the thousands of buddings just behind the west side of the barrier?

Anyone who has not noticed the work of humans in front of the Island hotels, condos, restaurants and bar and grill businesses, take a closer look to discover the project to nourish the environment in this island resort on the Mexican Gulf.

The tiny plants, known as sea oats, are native to the Island and seem to be in abundance on the north side of SPI.

Erica Houghton, the Island Coastal Coordinator, said the project came about after the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

The highly active season that produced 31 subtropical storms, caused a lot of beach erosion damaging the sand dunes and vegetation along the beach.

It was the most active season on record with one named storm and more than a dozen hurricanes, according to reports.

The season impacted the Island in some ways.

“We started looking at ways to nourish the beach,” she said. “So we contacted the Texas General Land Office.”

Houghton said town officials and TGLO worked on a project that involved securing funding for such an important project, among other things.

”That is how this really started,” she said, “and we started working on this project in late 2023.”

The town received $1.5 million in funding for coastal restoration.

A North Carolina-based company, called Coastal Transplants, was hired to plant some 20,000 buddings along a 17,000 linear feet stretch.

The buddings came from seeds collected from the sea oat plants found on the Island’s north side.

Back in December 2023, three people could be seen working on the section of the fence across from a popular beachfront bar and grill.

Some people were wondering what was going, while others thought they were working on a sea turtle-related project.

When this reporter tried to get comments from a man in charge of the project he declined but suggested to contact the city’s coastal department for that.

No problem.

Houghton said the town has been at the forefront of coastal restoration and cited the several projects that involves adding sand excavated from other projects such as the deepening of the Brownsville Ship Channel.

“We are really excited about this project,” she said, adding a plan is to get the community involved. “We are going to do an outreach (campaign) with volunteers.”


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