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Port Arthur area wetlands targeted for restoration effort

Wetland supporters in and around Port Arthur city limits are getting a funding infusion.

Grant funds were recently awarded to J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area in Jefferson County. Work on the project will enhance 1,002 acres of managed wetlands on the property through the removal of accumulated sediment and will also improve the ability water level management.

“Jefferson County appreciates Ducks Unlimited for keeping the momentum going to restore Texas’ largest coastal marsh located here in the Chenier Plain,” said Jefferson County Judge Jeff R. Branick, longtime DU volunteer and member of the Coastal Coordination Advisory Committee.

Ducks Unlimited was recently awarded a $1.5 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant to support restoration. The grant will be combined with $3 million in matching funds from the Texas General Land Office and Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.

The Star Lake Marsh and Shoreline Protection project will enhance and protect 3,477 acres of fresh, intermediate and brackish wetlands and other critical habitat at McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge and adjacent private land in Jefferson County. Work will include the construction of approximately 1.4 miles of rock breakwater along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

The breakwater structure will protect wetlands located on the project site, enhancing critical habitats on public lands.

The J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area is a 24,498-acre tract of fresh, intermediate and brackish water coastal marsh on the upper coast of Texas.

An additional 11,231.23-acre tract was added to the Area in August 1997, in a trade of Sheldon WMA lands for lands in Sea Rim State Park. This acreage was added to the Lost Lake Unit and re-designated as the Salt Bayou Unit (15,595 acres).

The Area represents the coastal marshes of the Texas Chenier Plain and is managed as wetland habitat with a special emphasis on migratory waterfowl habitat. The Hillebrandt Unit (591 acres) was added to the Area as mitigation in 1987. These wetlands are part of the Texas Chenier Plain, the westernmost geologic delta of the Mississippi River.

The WMA headquarters is on the south side of Highway 73 at the intersection of Jade Avenue in Port Arthur.

“Hats off to DU, Texas General Land Office, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. Department of Interior for finding creative solutions to conserve our marsh vegetation, soils and the right fresh and saltwater hydrology,” Branick said.