Corpus Christi Recognized for Environmental Stewardship

The Port of Corpus Christi (PCCA) has been recognized at the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation Coastal Bend Conservation and Environmental Stewardship Award Banquet in the business and industry category. The Port, the Texas General Land Office, and The US Dept. of Interior Minerals Management Service were all recognized for the Pelican Island Project that was recently completed. This project, headed by Paul D. Carangelo, REM, PCCA Coastal Environmental Planner, involves the construction of a breakwater to provide erosion protection for approximately 1,300 linear feet of the northeast portion of Pelican Island, the premier rookery in the Corpus Christi Bay area for a wide variety of colonial-nesting, fish-eating wading birds.

The eastern lobe and central isthmus portions of Pelican Island that will be protected by this project are extensively utilized by the colonial nesting bird species. Natural and man-induced erosion of 12.4 ft/yr is causing the rapid loss of prime rookery habitat for both ground- and tree-nesting colonial waterbird species. Hurricanes Dolly and Ike in 2008 caused massive erosion that accelerated the annualized erosion rate to 35 to 45 ft/yr. Construction of the revetment/breakwater will stop erosion of the shoreline protected by the structure. The critical issue is that what is eroded/eroding at Pelican Island is not just the habitat extensively used by ground nesting colonial waterbirds such as the brown pelican, but also brush and tree habitat, including mature mesquites/hackberry/acacia that are intensively used by tree-nesting, colonial water birds. The tree nesting colonial water birds include, but not limited to, ibis, reddish egrets, great egrets snowy egrets, night herons, rosette spoonbills, great blue herons, little blue herons, Louisiana herons and cattle egrets. The rate of shoreline change and impact to ground nesting habitat is an important issue, but the loss of brush nesting habitats is significant as these habitats take decades to develop in arid south Texas. “The port’s environmental stewardship support’s the sustainability efforts of our region,” said John LaRue, executive director.

The project will provide long-term protection of the prime rookery and associated wetland/estuarine habitats, prevent erosion from breaching the central isthmus, and create the first phase of a large, protected shallow-water and shoreline area for use by fledgling, colonial waterbirds. It will also provide regional and coastwide economic and ecological benefits.

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