Gulf Coastal Plains Wetland Mitigation Bank
E Sciences provided technical and contract management oversight and quality assurance services, and final MBI permitting services to our client for the permitting and establishment of an approximately 1,850 acre freshwater and brackish herbaceous wetland mitigation bank in Chambers County, Texas. This site is located within the East Galveston Bay Watershed and is surrounded by the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). The bank is the first tidal wetland bank to be permitted and operated within the Galveston District. The site is currently prior-converted agricultural lands historically utilized for rice farming and water fowl hunting during the fall. This site provides important over wintering and migratory bird and water fowl habitat in the Galveston Bay Watershed and is located within one of the most significant migratory stop-over areas within the United States. Species such as the highly endangered Whooping Crane as well as numerous other threatened and endangered species utilize the bank site and surrounding NWR lands.
The site restoration plan will also include re-establishment of tidal stream channels, intermediate and brackish tidal marsh, and historic coastal prairie habitats and freshwater depressional wetlands, extremely rare freshwater habitats that have been practically eliminated from the Gulf Coastal plain region of Texas due to agricultural conversion. The tidal stream and wetland restoration activities will provide critically important native nursery habitat for economically important fish and invertebrate species.
Our services included the site feasibility analysis, conceptual restoration plan design and sub-consultant technical oversight, Inter-Agency Review Team (IRT) field meeting oversight and coordination with numerous federal and state agencies, and quality assurance of work products. Permitting services required us to work closely with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and IRT composed of seven agencies in addition to the IRT, to re-design the project and successfully negotiate the IRT process. Due to land leveling activities and agency comments received, the re-design required formulation of a detailed grading plan for the tidal stream, tidal marsh platform, and depressional wetland restoration as well as in-situ, background monitoring of on-site water levels and salinity. Additionally, since the inlet levee breach is located on state submerged lands, construction of the tidal inlet breach will require securing a Texas General Lands Office easement. E Sciences will continue to provide construction implementation monitoring and compliance reporting, as well as credit sales, marketing support and long-term management services post MBI issuance.