Ducks Unlimited is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a marsh restoration project on the Cow Trap Lake unit of Texas's San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. Cow Trap Lake is located north of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, approximately five miles west of the mouth of the San Bernard River. The lake's north shoreline has suffered from decades of significant erosion caused by wind-driven waves. Refuge staff expect that marsh and shoreline losses will continue without intervention.
To provide shoreline and marsh protection, DU and its partners will construct marsh terraces within open shallow-water areas to reduce wave energy, erosion, and turbidity. Two of the terraces will be constructed with wider crowns at a height of four feet above mean tide. These terraces are being constructed as miniature "islands" to provide nesting habitat for colonial waterbirds such as herons, egrets, and terns. Artificial material will also be placed within Cow Trap Lake to provide additional substrate for oyster reef establishment as well as to reduce wave action and improve water quality.
The marsh terracing project is located within the refuge's designated waterfowl hunting area, and is also open to fishing and other public use. Funding for this project came from a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, Phillips 66, and Houston Endowment Inc.