Programmatic

Estuary Resilience Assessment

Satellite view image of Galveston Bay

CCMP Actions Implemented: SPO-2, SPO-3, SPO-4, RES-8, ACS-3
Grantee/Contractor: The GeoTechnology Research Institute through The Houston Advanced Research Center
Total Project Budget: $136,108
Project Period: September 2018 – June 2023
Project Description: The final output of this project will be a companion document to the Galveston Bay Plan and will provide resiliency adaptation considerations for implementers of the Galveston Bay Plan. The document will be developed in coordination with subject matter experts and/or members of the Galveston Bay Council and its subcommittees through workshops or existing meeting structures. The project will follow the requirements identified in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program Funding Guidance Document.

Regional Monitoring Database

Map of the sub-watersheds around Galveston Bay

CCMP Actions Implemented: ACS-1, ACS-2
Grantee/Contractor: Houston Advanced Research Center/GeoTechnology Research Institute
Total Project Budget: $350,228
Project Period: September 2020 – August 2025
Project Description: The Regional Monitoring Database will gather environmental datasets related to the lower Galveston Bay watershed in cooperation with federal, state, and local governments, as well as universities and research organizations, to evaluate progress in reaching a sustainable Galveston Bay ecosystem and identify gaps in monitoring programs. The Regional Monitoring Database will consist of an interactive, web-based application with data download capabilities and will be developed with input from stakeholders.

Public Participation and Education (PPE)

Trash Bash

Trash Bash
Photo provided by Gulf Coast Authority and H-GAC

CCMP Actions Implemented: SPO-1, SPO-3, PEA-2, PEA-3
Grantee/Contractor: The Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC)
Total Project Budget: $35,000
Project Period: September 2019– August 2022
Project Description: This project supports Texas’s largest, single-day, volunteer-based waterway cleanup event—River, Lakes, Bays N’ Bayous Trash Bash®. Supporting the personnel costs of the Houston-Galveston Area Council regional coordinator for Trash Bash® ensures continuity throughout the process and consistency in planning and execution from year to year. Trash Bash planning is a year-round process and requires ongoing planning, maintenance, and attention every month.

Public Perception Assessment and Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM) Campaigns to Enhance Conservation and Educational Outreach Programs

Houston Advanced Research Center logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-2, SPO-3, PEA-1, PEA-2, PEA-3
Grantee/Contractor: Houston Advanced Research Center/GeoTechnology Research Institute
Total Project Budget: $86,000
Project Period: September 2019 – May 2022
Project Description: The goal of the project is to use a community-centered approach to implement public outreach and education campaigns in the region. A public perception and awareness assessment will be conducted to identify communities and behaviors to target for three small outreach and education campaigns. Metrics will be developed to evaluate the success of each of the campaigns. The outcome of the campaigns and the public assessment and awareness information will be shared with stakeholders to demonstrate another approach to communicating with the public the importance of changing behaviors to conserve and protect Galveston Bay.

Texas Estuarine Resource Network (TERN) Program

Harris County Department of Education logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: SPO-2, SPO-3, PEA-3
Grantee/Contractor: Harris County Department of Education
Total Project Budget: $89,323
Project Period: September 2020 – May 2023
Project Description: Audubon Texas is partnering with the Harris County Department of Education. The project aims to engage local, underserved schools and communities within the Galveston Bay watershed in citizen science research concerning colonial waterbird foraging habitats within the school’s backyard. Teachers and students will develop an understanding of the scientific method, observational, and problem-solving skills through the study of conservation education and the collection of local bird data.

Microplastics in the Galveston Bay Watershed: The Big Impacts of Tiny Pollution

UHCL logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-2, SPO-3, PEA-1, PEA-2, PEA-3, RES-2, RES-3
Grantee/Contractor: University of Houston Clear Lake
Total Project Budget: $114,458
Project Period: September 2020 – May 2024
Project Description: This project expands an ongoing citizen science project with Florida SeaGrant and Mississippi State University looking at microplastics Gulf-wide. This project will expand the program to connect the entire Galveston Bay watershed. The project also includes watershed education opportunities for classrooms with lesson plans connecting students and schools to Galveston Bay throughout the region. Turtle Island Restoration Network will partner with the University of Houston Clear Lake to additionally characterize the spatial distribution of plastic debris along the bay shorelines.

Mobilizing the Environmental Education Community through Prairie Education

UHCL logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: SPO-1, SPO-2, SPO-3, SPO-4, PEA-1, PEA-2, PEA-3
Grantee/Contractor: University of Houston Clear Lake
Total Project Budget: $80,000
Project Period: September 2021 – May 2024
Project Description: The University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Environmental Institute of Houston (EIH) and Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT) will facilitate prairie education programs to increase knowledge and awareness of the ecological services provided by native coastal prairies and wetlands for K-12 students, educators, and the community at large. This two-year project seeks to address the low science and math test scores and workforce development of students in Texas Region 4 communities by providing STEM activities on the Deer Park prairie and at EIH through field trips, summer camps, and teacher/administrator workshops. Activities can be adapted to virtual formats if needed.

Natural Resources Uses (NRU)

Clear Creek Riparian Restoration

Purple Pickerel Weed Blooming on 5/6/20, in an area where Elephant Ear removals were targeted previously during the project
Photo provided by Houston County Precinct 1

CCMP Actions Implemented: HC-2, HC-3, SC-1, SC-2, SPO-1
Grantee/Contractor: Harris County Precinct 1
Total Project Budget: $104,500
Project Period: September 2018 – August 2022
Project Description: The Clear Creek Riparian Restoration project aims to restore 45 acres of riparian forested areas along Clear Creek. Harris County Precinct 1, in partnership with the Bayou Preservation Association, will enhance habitat by performing invasive species removal at Challenger Seven Memorial Park in Harris County, Texas. Challenger Seven Memorial Park has extensive forested habitat (about 50 percent of the park’s 326 acres), with much of it experiencing degradation by invasive species. Project partners will focus on a riparian band of approximately 250 feet of forest along Clear Creek and its back bays.

Conservation Assistance Program (CAP)

Conservation Assistance Program

CCMP Actions Implemented: HC-1, HC-2, HC-3, SC-1, SC-2
Grantee/Contractor: Galveston Bay Foundation
Total Project Budget: $600,000
Project Period: September 2017 – August 2023
Project Description: The overall goal of the CAP is to support the Estuary Program and its partners’ efforts to preserve wetlands and other important coastal habitats to protect the long-term health and productivity of Galveston Bay. The CAP will continue to accomplish these goals by:

  • identifying priority conservation properties with the help and consensus of conservation partners;
  • building funding strategies through grant identification, grant writing, and fundraising;
  • working with willing sellers to negotiate fee simple or conservation easement transactions;
  • carrying out legal, title, and other due diligence transaction support; and
  • finalizing the sale and transfer of title to a third-party organization or government entity.

The 6th Addition to the Coastal Heritage Preserve Through an Acquisition at Middle Tract, Galveston Island, Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: HC-1, SC-1
Grantee/Contractor: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Total Project Budget: $125,000
Project Period: September 2020 – May 2023
Project Description: This project aims to acquire funds to purchase and conserve approximately 45 acres of coastal habitat. The purchased tract would be added to and be managed as part of the Coastal Heritage Preserve. This project will conserve breeding, nesting, foraging, roosting, and wintering habitats that benefit numerous coastal-dependent and migratory bird species and protect coastal habitats that are breeding, nursery, juvenile and foraging habitat to marsh resident fishery species.

The Seventh and Eighth Additions to the Coastal Heritage Preserve, Galveston Island, Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: HC-1, SC-1
Grantee/Contractor: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Total Project Budget: $125,000
Project Period: September 2021 – May 2024
Project Description: The proposed acquisition tracts in Galveston, Texas will directly benefit and protect approximately 19.2 acres of temporarily flooded palustrine emergent persistent marsh habitat, 10.1 acres of seasonally flooded palustrine emergent persistent marsh, less than an acre (0.2 acres) of semi-permanently flooded open water, and 58.5 acres of upland coastal prairie.

Sylvan Rodriguez Habitat Restoration Project Phase III

Photo of Sylvan Workday participants in February 2020
Photo provided by the Houston Parks and Recreation Department

CCMP Actions Implemented: HC-2, HC-3, SC-1, SC-2
Grantee/Contractor: City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department
Total Project Budget: $75,300
Project Period: September 2021 – May 2024
Project Description: HPARD is currently working on a multi-phased project that will result in 72 acres of coastal prairie and riparian habitat. This phase (phase III) of the project will complete the restoration of the final 19 acres of prairie. Invasive tree species will be removed, leaving a mulch layer that will improve soil quality and provide the basis for a new prairie habitat. The site will be seeded with native prairie plant species and will be planted with grasses and forbs. HPARD will host two community planting events to educate the community on the importance of prairie habitat and promote stewardship and appreciation of nature parks in local communities.

The Jones Bay Oystercatcher Habitat Restoration Project

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: HC-2, HC-3, SC-1
Grantee/Contractor: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Total Project Budget: $75,000
Project Period: September 2021 – May 2024
Project Description :The Jones Bay Oystercatcher Habitat Restoration Project conducted by TPWD in partnership with Galveston Bay Foundation, aims to restore up to four remnant islands in Jones Bay to provide more sustainable nesting habitat for native American oystercatchers to reverse declines in their reproduction success. The project will also enhance and/or create up to one acre of oyster reef complex near each nesting island, thus providing foraging habitat for nesting oystercatchers and their young.

Monitoring and Research (M&R)

Characterizing PCBs and Dioxins in the Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay Post Harvey

UH Logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: RES-2, RES-5
Grantee/Contractor: University of Houston
Total Project Budget: $60,000
Project Period: September 2019 – April 2022
Project Description: Two observations after Hurricane Harvey motivate this study: (i) some parts of the Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay exhibited higher sediment concentrations of dioxin and PCBs after the hurricane relative to historic levels, and (ii) it has been reported that the protective cap on the San Jacinto River Waste Pits site incurred failures during the hurricane, potentially exposing waste material in the pits to the San Jacinto River waters. The main goal for this study is to expand the sampling scope beyond the five-mile limit of a previous Galveston Bay Foundation fish and crab dioxin and PCB study to encompass the remainder of the Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay system as applicable and appropriate.

Galveston Bay Oyster Microplastics: Baselines and Impacts

Texas A&M University at Galveston Logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-2, PEA-1, PEA-3, RES-3
Grantee/Contractor: Texas A&M University at Galveston
Total Project Budget: $90,427
Project Period: September 2020 – April 2023
Project Description: The project aims to quantify (per gram of living tissue) types and amounts of microplastics in Galveston Bay oysters. Researchers will concurrently sample surface water for microplastics to determine whether oysters are selectively filtering or retaining certain types. Project researchers will also examine variation across major bay regions, as well as any relationship between microplastics loads and oyster physiological condition. Researchers will coordinate with other GBEP project leaders to align sampling locations so that findings can be linked spatially.

The Effect of Microplastic on the Base of Marine Food Webs

Texas A&M University at Galveston Logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: RES-2, RES-3
Grantee/Contractor: Texas A&M University at Galveston
Total Project Budget: $36,939
Project Period: September 2020 – December 2022
Project Description: The project aims to 1) investigate how microplastic exposure affects physiological and swimming performance in filter-feeding (clupeid) fishes (this study = gulf menhaden and bay anchovies), and 2) investigate the trend of plastic accumulation in filter-feeding fishes in Galveston Bay over the last 77 years using a Galveston Bay specific collection at Texas A&M University. Clupeid fishes hold importance at the base of marine food webs and are particularly susceptible to microplastic pollution due to their feeding mode.

The Distribution, Fate, and Transport of Emerging Contaminants in Galveston Bay

Texas A&M University logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: RES-2
Grantee/Contractor: Texas A&M University
Total Project Budget: $108,438
Project Period: September 2020 – March 2024
Project Description: The project aims to conduct quarterly field observations over two years in Galveston Bay to understand the distribution, fate, and transport of a group of emerging contaminants, including per-and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) and pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCP) in water and sediment. The project will extend a currently funded quarterly time series beginning in June 2017 to five years.

Effects of Erosion Control Structures on Shoreline Marsh Species Populations

Texas A&M University at Galveston Logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: RES-3
Grantee/Contractor: Texas A&M University at Galveston
Total Project Budget: $69,305
Project Period: September 2021 – October 2023
Project Description: Shoreline marsh areas are a critical habitat that provides protection from erosion and floods. Shoreline marshes are sometimes sheltered behind breakwaters or sills (typically rock or oyster shell) meant to further reduce erosion. Breakwaters and sills are designed to reduce the exchange of momentum (wave impacts and other hydrodynamic forces) and materials (especially sediment) between the open bay and the marsh. Because of this, they could also affect populations of animals living in marsh habitats, but whether such impacts are beneficial or detrimental remains poorly explored. This project asks: How does the presence of erosion control structures influence species populations and productivity within shoreline marsh areas? To address this question, this Contract will survey nekton and zooplankton in Galveston Bay shoreline marsh areas with and without breakwater or sill structures and quantify primary producer productivity.

The Fate of Emerging Per- and Polyfluoroalkylated Substances (PFAS) Pollutants in Shellfish and Fish of Galveston Bay

Texas A&M University at Galveston Logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: RES-2
Grantee/Contractor: Texas A&M University at Galveston
Total Project Budget: $105,549
Project Period: September 2021 – October 2023
Project Description: This Contract aims to increase the current understanding of the fate of emerging pollutants in Galveston Bay biota. This Contract will generate data on the body-burdens of PFAS in fish and shellfish collected from Galveston Bay. Biomarkers of stress will also be measured in these organisms to determine the effect(s) of PFAS exposure on Galveston Bay fish and shellfish health.

Water and Sediment Quality (WSQ)

Targeted Bacteria Monitoring Project

Houston-Galveston Area Council logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-1, NPS-2, NPS-3, PS-2, PS-3, SPO-1, SPO-4,
PEA-1, PEA-2, RES-4
Grantee/Contractor: Houston-Galveston Area Council
Total Project Budget: $80,000
Project Period: September 2019 – August 2022
Project Description: The goal of the Targeted Bacteria Monitoring Project is to reduce bacteria concentrations in impaired streams in the Bacteria Implementation Group (BIG) project area. The objectives are to: (1) investigate bacteria sources in the most bacteria-impaired waterways in the BIG project area; and (2) work with local jurisdictions to reduce or eliminate those sources. This project focuses only on the most impaired assessment units with the aim to identify relative differences in bacteria levels for the purpose of narrowing down geographic locations of potential sources. When potential sources are identified, the information will be passed on to local authorities in a targeted monitoring report.

Occurrence of Microplastics in Tributaries to Galveston Bay

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CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-1, PS-1, RES-2, RES-3, SPO-4
Grantee/Contractor: United States Geological Survey
Total Project Budget: $75,000
Project Period: September 2019 – August 2022
Project Description: Litter and trash, such as plastics, is an issue of concern in Galveston Bay and its tributaries. Microplastics, which are plastic particles less than five mm in diameter, are of increasing concern. These small particles, which are derived from degradation or mechanical breakdown of larger plastic objects or particles, are introduced to waterways through urban runoff and wastewater effluent. The goal of this project is to quantify and categorize microplastics in select watersheds draining to Galveston Bay. To date, no studies that assess the occurrence and abundance of microplastics in the tributaries of Galveston Bay have been published. Data collected for this project will contribute to providing a baseline assessment that can serve as the foundation for future study and abatement.

Baseline Assessment of Microplastics in Galveston Bay

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CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-1, PS-1, RES-2, RES-3, SPO-4
Grantee/Contractor: United States Geological Survey
Total Project Budget: $90,000
Project Period: September 2020 – May 2023
Project Description: This study will contribute data to the Occurrence of Microplastics in Tributaries to Galveston Bay project and to other partner projects. This project will assess microplastics in the open waters of the Galveston Bay complex. These baseline studies will provide information about the spatial distribution and concentrations of microplastics in the Galveston Bay watershed.

Outreach Implementation for Galveston Bay Watershed Water Quality Projects

Houston-Galveston Area Council logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-1, NPS-2, PS-1, PS-2, SPO-2, SPO-4
Grantee/Contractor: Houston-Galveston Area Council
Total Project Budget: $40,000
Project Period: September 2020 – August 2022
Project Description: This project will focus on conducting additional needs assessments and will further develop outreach materials and resources for 24 small, non-municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) coastal communities. Targeted outreach will help reduce four common types of Nonpoint Source (NPS) pollution through: proper disposal of pet waste; proper disposal of fats, oils, grease (FOG); maintenance of On-site Sewage Facilities (OSSFs); and reducing litter and illegal dumping. The Performing Party will design a Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM) pilot project that will focus on one of these four pollution types.

Supporting the Use of Green Infrastructure (GI) in the Lower Galveston Bay Watershed

Houston-Galveston Area Council logo

CCMP Actions Implemented: PS-1, NPS-4
Grantee/Contractor: Houston-Galveston Area Council
Total Project Budget: $45,000
Project Period: September 2021 – February 2023
Project Description: This project aims to develop a recommended regional best management Green Infrastructure (GI) practice list for local municipalities and decision makers. Over the last 20 years a minimum of 86 GI installations have been completed within the Lower Galveston Bay watershed. Many of these practices have included performance monitoring and, in some cases, that information has been shared with local agencies and funding partners. This data has however, never been combined to assess these best management practices (BMPs) together with the goal to recommend those practices best suited to the region. The Houston-Galveston Area Council (Performing Party) will perform a nested approach, using local data that will be augmented by additional state and national data (i.e., National BMP Database), to identify and recommend in collaboration with water professionals, a BMP list that accounts for local conditions, e.g., soils and precipitation.

Townwood Park Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI)

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CCMP Actions Implemented: NPS-3
Grantee/Contractor: City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department
Total Project Budget: $55,000
Project Period: September 2021 – May 2024
Project Description: The City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department will create two or more bioretention features in Townwood Park (Harris County, Texas) to slow stormwater runoff and support infiltration and water retention. Native grasses and forbs, collected locally and propagated by the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department, will be installed to provide beautification, infiltration, and water quality improvements in the systems. These green infrastructure features will treat the runoff from the park and neighboring development before flowing into Sims Bayou and ultimately Galveston Bay. Interpretive signage will be installed adjacent to each feature to provide information on the functions of green infrastructure, the connections of Houston’s watersheds to Galveston Bay, and the role that community members play in protecting our waterways.

Pictures without a credit are either taken by Estuary Program staff or are free-use images from Wikipedia commons.

Shorthand Summary of the Action Items of The Galveston Bay Plan, 2nd Edition (2018)

ENSURE SAFE HUMAN AND AQUATIC LIFE USE

Improve Water Quality Through Nonpoint Source Pollution (NPS)
NPS-1 Support Watershed-Based Plan Development and Implementation
NPS-2 Support Nonpoint Source Education and Outreach Campaigns
NPS-3 Implement NPS Best Management Practices
NPS-4 Host Nonpoint Source Workshops

Improve Water Quality Through Point Source Pollution Abatement (PS)
PS-1 Support Stormwater Education Programs
PS-2 Achieve Sanitary Sewer System Capacity and Integrity
PS-3 Increase Wastewater Treatment Facility Compliance

Promote Public Health and Awareness (PHA)
PHA-1 Improve Seafood Advisory Awareness
PHA-2 Improve Regional Contact Recreation Risk Awareness
PHA-3 Improve Contact Recreation Safety Through Watershed-Based Plans (WBPs)
PHA-4 Improve Shellfish Consumption Safety Through WBPs
PHA-5 Improve Finfish Consumption Safety Through WBPs

PROTECT AND SUSTAIN LIVING RESOURCES

Support Habitat Conservation (HC)
HC-1 Land Acquisition
HC-2 Habitat Restoration
HC-3 Habitat Enhancement

Support Species Conservation (SC)
SC-1 Native Species Management
SC-2 Invasive Species Control

Sustain Freshwater Inflows (FWI)
FWI-1 Regional Planning for Freshwater Inflows
FWI-2 Freshwater Inflows Research and Management
FWI-3 Water Conservation and Education

ENGAGE COMMUNITIES

Preserve Galveston Bay Through Stakeholder and Partner Outreach (SPO)
SPO-1 Stewardship Programs and Volunteer Opportunities
SPO-2 Workshops and Events
SPO-3 Support Regional Initiatives
SPO-4 Local Government Outreach

Support Public Education and Awareness Initiatives (PEA)
PEA-1 Key Issue Engagement
PEA-2 Adult Education
PEA-3 Kindergarten to 12thGrade (K-12) Education Efforts

INFORM SCIENCE-BASED DECISION MAKING

Collaborate with Research Institutions to Support Focus Area Applied Research and Monitoring (RES)
RES-1 Conduct Biological Stressor Monitoring and Research
RES-2 Conduct Geochemical Stressor Monitoring and Research
RES-3 Conduct Physical Stressor Monitoring and Research
RES-4 Conduct Monitoring and Research to Address Limits to Contact Recreation
RES-5 Conduct Monitoring and Research to Address Limits to Seafood Consumption
RES-6 Evaluate Best Management Practice (BMP) Projects
RES-7 Conduct Research on Ecosystem Service and Economic Valuation of Bay Resources
RES-8 Complete Coastal Resiliency and Acclimation Studies

Increase Access to Galveston Bay Ecosystem Information (ACS)
ACS-1 Tracking Ecosystem Health Indicators
ACS-2 Access to Monitoring and Research Data
ACS-3 Track Galveston Bay Plan Implementation