Freshwater wetlands in the Houston-Galveston region provide many ecosystem services. Freshwater wetlands store rainfall and reduce surface runoff to diminish flooding, they store nutrients, filter pollutants, and provide valuable habitat for many species of wildlife. These important wetland habitats are being lost at an increasing rate in the Lower Galveston Bay Watershed.
Galveston Bay Wetland Permit and Mitigation Assessment
Freshwater wetlands in the Houston-Galveston region provide many ecosystem services. Freshwater wetlands capture rainfall and reduce surface runoff to diminish flooding, store nutrients, filter pollutants, and provide valuable habitat for many species of wildlife. These important wetland habitats are being lost at an increasing rate in the Lower Galveston Bay Watershed. Losses are largely due to the growing human population and associated development patterns in the Houston-Galveston Region.
The federal wetland permitting and mitigation process is a key way in which wetland function and ecosystem services are maintained in the Houston-Galveston region. However, without examining the long-term status of permitting and mitigation activities, there is no way of knowing whether the federal wetland policy is achieving its intended goals. Furthermore, the federal wetland permitting process as it is implemented in Texas is separate and disconnected from construction permitting and development ordinances implemented by local and county governments.
This project is led by Lisa Gonzalez, President and Chief Executive Officer, of HARC. The HARC team is partnering with the Texas General Land Office and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Texas Coastal Watershed Program to examine the long-term status of wetland permit and mitigation activities in the Lower Galveston Bay watershed. The ultimate goal of the project is to bridge the gap between local residential and commercial development, land use permitting decisions of local governments, the federal wetland permitting process, and regional habitat conservation goals.
As wetlands have been displaced by development in our region, there have been major implications for wildlife habitat, water quality and quantity and flood control. Freshwater wetlands are especially at risk as many fall outside of the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Rule.
Wetlands are a valuable and beautiful part of our Texas landscape.
Jim Lester will present at "Ecosystem Services, Wetlands, and Houston's Growth" at the Wetland Economic Benefits Workshop on April 23, 2015 in Houston, Texas.
Lisa Gonzalez will speak on the Galveston Bay Report Card at the Texas Association of Environmental Professionals Luncheon on March 19, 2015 in Houston, Texas.