The pilot channel connecting the Bahia Grande tidal basin and the Brownsville Ship Channel will be closed until the Fall for major enhancements to increase tidal exchange and restore the Bahia Grande as a major fish, wildlife and waterfowl nursery, the Port of Brownsville announced.
Access to the narrow waterway, also known as the Carl “Joe” Gayman channel, will be closed to the public beginning May 1, 2021 through early November when the project is expected to be completed.
The Bahia Grande is a 10,000-acre coastal ecosystem and wetland complex that includes three shallow basins located within the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, immediately north of the Brownsville Ship Channel. Based on study and recommendations from ecologists, the current 34-foot-wide half-mile Gayman channel connecting the Bahia Grande and the Brownsville Ship Channel will be widened to 250 feet and deepened to nine feet. This will increase tidal exchange by a factor of 13x and restore the ecosystem as a major fish, wildlife and waterfowl nursery and habitat.
The $5 million project is being implemented by the Texas General Land Office on behalf of the Deepwater Horizon Texas Trustee Implementation Group (TIG). The project is one of dozens of ecological projects being funded by proceeds from the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment. More than 65 organizations—spanning local, state and federal agencies; schools and colleges; wildlife, conservation and community groups; and the Port of Brownsville—have continued to collaborate in the Bahia Grande Restoration Partnership to restore the area’s wildlife diversity for future generations.
“The Port of Brownsville is proud to partner with other organizations to restore the Bahia Grande and create greater recreational opportunities for our communities,” said Port Director and CEO Eduardo A. Campirano. “This brief interruption in water access is well worth the generations of benefit that will come from this significant endeavor.”
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