Galveston Island Bayou Protected

September 22, 2010

An important 45-acre property, Ostermayer Bayou, has been preserved on West Galveston Island, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today. TPL bought the land and has conveyed it to the Galveston County Department of Parks and Senior Services.

The land was identified as a high priority for protection by the 2007 West Galveston Island Greenprint for Growth. It is located just east of Indian Beach and can be reached via water from Galveston Bay or by land from a 60-feet-wide right-way-from from San Luis Pass road to the southern edge of the bayou.

"This as a great example of what makes Galveston Bay so special," said John Huffman, Coastal Program Coordinator for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. "The marshes and uplands are important for wildlife, and that importance is magnified by the fact that very few intact areas like this remain. It is a home for many birds, including sandhill cranes, shore birds, wading birds, waterfowl, and grassland birds, along with the fisheries which need the marshes."

Local efforts will be aimed at restoring the coastal wetlands near the property's shoreline at Jumbile Cove as part of an effort to protect Galveston Bay, one of the nation's top oyster production areas and the state's largest estuarine source of seafood.

The property, valued at $690,000, was purchased with $400,000 in grant money from the Coastal Coordination Council, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). While this award covered almost 60% of the total project costs, another $222,843 in nongovernmental financing helped bridge TPL's funding gap on the acquisition.

"In coordination with our partners, we are working to protect the environmental and economic conditions on West Galveston Island," said Niels Brown, Project Manager for TPL. "The two are often linked quite closely and improving environmental conditions can mean better economic opportunities."

In 2007, TPL joined the effort to save McAllis Point. With help from many of the same partners who worked to preserve Ostermayer Bayou, the group was able to set aside 67 acres for future park use. "Both of these properties have been incorporated into the county's current park planning efforts," said Dennis Harris, Director of the Galveston County Department of Parks and Senior Services. "Based on the feedback the County received during TPL's community meetings in 2007, we know that conservation on this part of the Island is a high priority and wanted to address that going forward."

"There were a number of partners who helped make the project a reality," said Brown. "Texas Parks and Wildlife Department provided the initial background information on the site's resources; the Texas General Land Office was instrumental in obtaining the largest piece of the funding; and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Coastal Program provided funding to help restore native habitat and manage this and other County-owned properties on the Island."

Other partners include the Galveston County Commissioners' Court and Department of Parks and Senior Services; Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Galveston Bay Estuary Program; The John P. McGovern Foundation; The Houston Endowment, Inc.; The Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund; The Meadows Foundation; Boeing Charitable Trust; The Powell Foundation; The Trull Foundation; and the late Sidney McClendon III of the West Galveston Island Property Owners Association. "His endorsement was a key milestone," said Cherie O'Brien, Island resident and Wildlife Biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

TPL is a national nonprofit dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, TPL has conserved more than 2.5 million acres of land nationwide. In Texas, TPL has protected more than 34,000 acres for communities all over the state, including areas in and around Amarillo, Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations and businesses.