Artificial Reef Is Latest Improvement on Coastal Texas Refuge

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Photo © Michael Furtman

Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently completed a reef construction project on the Cow Trap Lake unit of San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge to complement a marsh terracing project completed in 2014.

Cow Trap Lake is located north of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, approximately 5 miles west of the mouth of the San Bernard River. The lake's northern shoreline has experienced significant erosion from wind-driven waves, resulting in the loss of many acres of coastal marsh habitat. DU's terracing work and recent reef project will help stop this loss.

The artificial reef was constructed in open water between two large terraces. More than 770 tons of crushed stone was used to create the structure, which provides nearly two acres of sub-tidal and submerged habitat. The reef is approximately 2,000 feet long, 25 to 40 feet wide at the base, and up to 12 inches tall. This type of structure and bottom relief offers excellent habitat for numerous marine species and breaks up wave action. Additional crushed stone was also placed along the lake side of the outer terraces to provide shoreline protection and sub-tidal habitat.

Cow Trap Lake is a popular area for public use and recreation, including waterfowl hunting and fishing. Funding partners for the project include diverse public and private sources such as the USFWS Coastal Program, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, Phillips 66, National Marine Fisheries Service, Coastal Conservation Association, NRG Energy, and Houston Endowment.