The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) recently contributed $200,000 to a DU project that will help conserve important coastal wetlands in Matagorda County, Texas. In the first phase of this project, which also received funding from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), the Meadows Foundation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, nearly 3,200 feet of rock breakwater will be constructed to protect approximately 1,200 acres of the Sargent Marsh. Additional funding is currently being sought for the construction of another 2.5 miles of breakwater to protect other areas of the marsh.

The CCA also provided funding for a breakwater project on the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area, which will protect 900 acres of managed freshwater marsh and prevent saltwater intrusion in 200 acres of adjacent brackish marsh. Portions of this breakwater project have already been constructed, with remaining construction expected to be initiated in early 2013. The Coastal Impact Assistance Program and NAWCA also contributed funding for this $1.6 million effort.

Rock breakwaters are used along navigation channels to halt shoreline erosion and reverse adjacent marsh degradation caused by saltwater intrusion and soil loss. Without this protection, freshwater and brackish coastal marshes that provide vital foraging habitat for wintering waterfowl can be degraded by saltwater intrusion and replaced by less productive saline marsh. The breakwaters also promote vegetation recovery and serve as a substrate for oysters and other crustaceans. By protecting threatened coastal wetlands, these breakwater projects make a significant contribution to the conservation goals of the Gulf Coast Joint Venture and help ensure that the region will have the foraging capacity to support historic populations of wintering waterfowl.