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Public notice issued about Jefferson County ecosystem restoration study

Environmental Issues // April 20, 2017

The US Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District, in partnership with Jefferson County and the Sabine Neches Navigation District, is preparing an Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Jefferson County Ecosystem Restoration Study in Jefferson County, Texas.

The study will help contribute to larger ongoing efforts to improve, preserve and sustain ecological resources along the Texas coast by stakeholder groups, non-governmental organizations and government agencies at the local, state and federal levels.

Jefferson County contains the largest contiguous estuarine marsh complex in Texas. The Chenier Plain landscape sustains a very high level of productivity within the freshwater to estuarine marsh, coastal prairie grasslands, tidal flats, creeks and basins of the system. This diversity of communities creates an extremely productive complex array of fish and wildlife resources, outdoor recreation opportunities and storm protection.

The area is extremely important for commercial and recreational fisheries productivity and for wintering and migratory bird habitat.

The vast resources found in the coastal system are rapidly degrading due to a variety of changes in the system induced by development and natural processes.

The Jefferson County coastal system is in need of aquatic habitat restoration due to several identified problems contributing to degradation of habitat for fish and wildlife using beaches, dunes and marshes. The key factors identified as having a negative effect on the aquatic habitat include: erosion, decreased sediment supplies, decreased drainage, decreased freshwater inflows, tidal influences and increasing salinities.

A civil works feasibility study is the initial step in the USACE process for addressing significant water resources needs and typically focuses on one or more of USACE’s key mission areas: flood risk management, navigation, or ecosystem restoration.

After Congress has both authorized and appropriated funds to begin a study, USACE works with a non-federal sponsor (sponsor) and a multi-disciplinary Project Delivery Team to conduct a feasibility study.

A feasibility study establishes the federal interest, engineering feasibility, economic justification and environmental acceptability of a water resources project recommended for congressional authorization and construction.

Specifically, the Corps and the sponsor work together to identify water resources problems, formulate and evaluate solutions, resolve conflicting interests and prepare recommendations. Feasibility studies are cost shared equally between the sponsor and the federal government. Typically, the feasibility study and resulting recommendation for project authorization in the form of a Chief’s Report should be completed at a total cost of $3 million and within three years of study initiation.

If you would like to provide input on the study, please provide comments to JCSER@usace.army.mil

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