The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has announced a $26.5 million award to the Texas General Land Office to restore approximately seventeen miles of the beach dune ridge system within the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge, from High Island to Sea Rim State Park.
Awarded through the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, which NFWF created in accordance with the terms of criminal settlement agreements between the Department of Justice and BP and Transocean, the grant will leverage more than $25 million in Natural Resource Damages and RESTORE Act funds for a total conservation investment of over $50 million. When combined with an earlier pilot phase, completion of the project will bring total restored habitat to twenty miles, including the addition of approximately a hundred and fifty feet of sand seaward of the dunes.
In conjunction with an interior clay berm installed by various partners in the effort in 2016, the restoration project has a projected lifespan of at least fifty years and will offer critical protection to the Salt Bayou Watershed, which encompasses the largest contiguous estuarine marsh complex in Texas. Dune restoration efforts are expected to commence later this year.
"This important investment will bolster a fragile stretch of shoreline that is critical to the coastal ecosystem and communities of southeast Texas," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "The restored shoreline will also serve as a first line of defense against future storms."