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YEAR 2003 - CRP Project #2008 (Gulf of Mexico)

Project #2008
Restoration of Bahia Grande

Brownsville, Texas

BEFORE re-flooding - July 16, 2005.  PHOTO: Carrie Robertson for NOAA

AFTER re-flooding - Sept 19, 2005.  PHOTO: Carrie Robertson for NOAA

Project name: #2008 Restoration of Bahia Grande
Project status: Complete
Grant Administrator: Gulf of Mexico Foundation (for NOAA)
Grantee: Ocean Trust
Project location: Brownsville, Texas
Grant period: Jan 1, 2021 - Dec 31, 2020 (extended to March 31, 2021)
Grant amount: $44,940
Land Ownership: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Lat/Long: 2554 N, 9726 W
Types of Habitat: former shallow-water coastal estuary
Project leader: Thor Lassen
                         11921 Freedom Drive
                         Suite 550-PMB 5580
                         Reston, VA 20190
                         (703) 450-9852 phone
                         (703) 450-9853 fax

Species Benefiting From Restoration: all coastal species of fish, shellfish, marine wildlife, migratory waterfowl native to South Texas coast.

Acres of Habitat Restored
Entire scope of the multi-year Bahia Grande project involved re-flooding and re-vegetating of three large, dried-out basins covering 11,000 acres outside of Brownsville, Texas. The portion of the project funded by the Gulf of Mexico Foundation/NOAA CRP grant involved renovation of a greenhouse/educational center to grow plants for the re-vegetation efforts and an initial mangrove planting field trip done by local school children in one portion of the basin.

Project Objectives
  • Enhance ecological functions and soil stability within Bahia Grande through the re-vegetation of native grasses and estuarine plants
  • Establish a community-wide coalition to provide support for Bahia Grande.

Project Description

This project initiated re-vegetation work needed to stabilize soil and reestablish ecological functions of Bahia Grande. It also worked to establish a community coalition to support the restoration process.

Project leaders recruited local biology teachers to participate in classroom mangrove restoration projects for Bahia Grande in all three neighboring school systems of Brownsville, Los Fresnos, and Port Isabel, Texas. 

Ocean Trust and US Fish & Wildlife Service representatives made presentations on Bahia Grande to 925 students who then grew 1,425 mangrove propagules into seedlings over the school year. In May of 2003, the school children came to the project site on a field trip to transplant their seedlings on the banks of Bahia Grande.

Project leaders and volunteers constructed a mangrove nursery near the shores of Bahia Grande in the Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge to augment school plantings and support transplanting efforts.

Based on guidance from US Fish & Wildlife Service, soil stabilization with wetland native grasses was the first priority for re-vegetation of Bahia Grande. Since no commercial source for native grass species existed, project leaders worked with the Texas A&M; Kingsville Kika de la Garza Plant Material Center to establish germination and nursery grow out capability for native grasses and other plants to support the long term re-vegetation needs associated with restoration of Bahia Grande.

Specific plant species, planting locations within Bahia Grande, and planting protocols were determined using the expertise of Chris Best, Fish & Wildlife Service re-vegetation specialist for the region, and John Reilley at the Texas A&M Kingsville Kika de la Garza Plant Material Center.

Native grass seeds were collected from South Padre Island and were stored in a temperature and humidity controlled refrigerator until spring 2003. Ocean Trust plans to expand its nursery facility (i.e., benches, watering and shade system) to grow out native grasses for replanting in Bahia Grande.

Click on photo to enlarge

    Sept 19, 2021 - 99 photos

    Dec 7, 2020 - 17 photos

    April 29, 2021 - 14 photos

    May 2003 - 14 photos

Map of Bahia Grande

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Sept 20, 2021 - Brownsville Herald newspaper: "Bahia Grande becomes research lab"

July 17, 2021 - Brownsville Herald newspaper: "Water refloods Bahia Grande"

Dec 12, 2020 - Brownsville Herald newspaper: "Greenhouse to help with restoring Bahia"

Fall 2003 - Texas Shores Magazine: "Public-private partnership leads restoration effort for the Bahia Grande"

Nov 4, 2021 - Houston Chronicle newspaper: "Estuary project brings new life to wetlands"

April 2004 - Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine: "Efforts to restore wetlands in South Texas receive a major boost"

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NOAA Restoration Center

Gulf of Mexico Foundation

Ocean Trust

Texas A&M; Kingsville Kika de la Garza Plant Material Center

US Fish & Wildlife South Texas Refuge Complex

Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge

Marco Sales

Episcopal Day School

University of Brownsville/Texas Southmost College

JASON Project

Coastal Conservation Association Texas

Brownsville/Port Isabel Shrimp Association

Gulf of Mexico Foundation - PMB 51, 5403 Everhart - Corpus Christi, TX 78411
(800) 884-4175 toll free - (361) 882-3939 phone - (361) 882-1262 fax
e-mail:     website:
webmaster: Carrie Robertson