EWN Proving Grounds

USACE Galveston District

Alternative Interventions

Beneficial Use Site 4A Vegetation Workshop

In 2012, a long-term management plan was implemented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Galveston District (SWG) to beneficially utilize dredged material from the Chocolate Bayou Channel on a periodic basis over a twenty-year timeframe. The beneficial use project would create and augment approximately 560 acres of marsh and bird-nesting habitat within the Chocolate Bayou Channel. As a complement to this beneficial use of dredged material effort, certain features were applied to enhance engineering objectives while maximizing environmental benefits.

The containment dike was reinforced with a combination of Reef Balls and articulating concrete mattresses, and vegetation was added to work synergistically with the other two elements to prevent the dike from eroding. The dike over time self-recruited vegetation through succession, but eventually, areas lacking or sparse in vegetation experienced severe erosion, compromising the integrity of the dike. In 2017, the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) repaired the areas where vegetation had not taken hold, again using natural materials—this time, native plant species and coir materials.

Reef Balls and newly installed coirlogs bordering the planted areas immediately after planting activity.

Due to the wave-attenuating properties of the native plant communities, the erosive forces on the dike were diminished, preventing costly future repairs. Three-foot-diameter Reef Balls were designed and fabricated with a special kind of concrete to replicate and attract the creation of the natural oyster reef; they were used, along with articulating concrete mattresses, to reinforce the dike.

Beneficial Use at Evia Island

The Houston-Galveston Navigation Channel improvement project was an excellent opportunity to restore some marsh losses in Galveston Bay by beneficially utilizing dredged material. The Evia Island project site created a 2,800 acre of marsh and 6-acre bird habitat mixture of scrub-shrub and wetland habitats for refuge and nesting capacity.

A quiescent lagoon has been incorporated with tidal flushing for foraging and rearing. In addition, rock armor provides the algal substrate and crustacean habitat. National Marine Fisheries Service documented proof of ecosystem benefits and local community economic benefits. The project overall touches on each of the four EWN key elements and has become a diverse habitat in the middle of an otherwise open water area.

Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study

The themes of Coastal Resilience; Natural and Nature-Based Features; and EWN are being explored to support the USACE Galveston District integrated coastal protection and restoration.