Reporter Greg Groogan interviewed John Jacob, Galveston Baykeeper Board President, and Debra Goode, Treasure of the Bay and resident of Pine Brook, regarding Trendmaker residential development along Clear Lake City Boulevard just north of the intersection of El Dorado on prairie pothole wetland, an area known as Armand Potholes. At issue is the the nature of the connection between these wetlands and 'traditional navigable waters' such as Armand Bayou. Short version at 5 p.m. tonight, longer version at 9 p.m. on Fox Channel 26. The interviews will provide insight into threats to and importance of our wetlands.
Galveston BayKeeper is evaluating legal options to protect prairie-pothole wetlands on the Upper Gulf Coast of Texas. Trendmaker Homes is developing a large tract along Clear Lake City Boulevard just north of the intersection of El Dorado and CLC Blvd. This is the largest known immediate threat, but it is not the only threat.
A substantial amount of prairie pothole wetlands exist at the Trendmaker site, an area known as the Armand Potholes. At issue is the nature of the connection between these wetlands and “traditional navigable waters,” such as Armand Bayou. The fear is that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will acquiesce to developer contentions that headwater prairie-pothole wetlands, such as these, are essentially closed depressions with no significant nexus to traditionally navigable waters.
Galveston BayKeeper contends, as academic research has shown, that these wetlands are hydrologically connected to traditionally navigable waters, and that the aquatic integrity of these navigable waters is dependent on the nature of the headwater wetlands.
Development such what is occurring at the Trendmaker site is occurring all over the region. The Trendmaker site is a good one around which to mount a challenge, because of the very distinct presence of prairie pothole wetlands on this site and because two independent university studies documenting the significant hydrologic nexus of these kinds of wetlands to traditionally navigable waters were undertaken in very close proximity to this site.
Galveston BayKeeper’s intention is to compel the Corps of Engineers to recognize its jurisdiction over these wetlands and to require that any wetlands disturbed or destroyed through the development are fully mitigated in accordance with the law. The Armand Potholes are of such exceptional value that an argument could be made that these wetlands should not be developed under any circumstances because the cumulative impacts on these kinds of wetlands has rendered them very rare.
Galveston Baykeeper has retained experienced legal counsel to help it evaluate its options for successfully defending vital wetlands. Lawyers cost money, and your donation would help make a serious, intelligent opposition possible.
The Deepwater Horizon explosion devastated the waters of the Gulf at the time of the spill when thousands of gallons of oil spewed into the luscious marine environment that is Gulf of Mexico. Adding to the problem, toxic chemicals called "dispersants" were dumped profusely into the water to rid the unsightly oil from view. Unfortunately, the dispersants are yet another problem for our waters and our health. The chemicals do not disentigrate the oil wiping everything shiny and new as some reports seem to indicate. Oil is dispersed. Disperse - to cause to become spread widely.
Statement from Galveston Baykeeper board member, Sharron Stewart, about the Ixtoc oil disaster in 1979.
The oil was hit with dispersants at the site in the Bay of Campeche and again at the 25th parallel (Texas border). Both treatments were on the surface. When the oil reached Mansfield Pass (1/3rd of the way up Padre Island) , the channel was closed. Fishing net was strung across the channel, top to bottom. NOAA divers camped on both sides of the channel for about 10 days, (to keep the nets from being cut so boats could get through). They dove & observed that the nets were oiled evenly, top to bottom. They took water samples in the channel, and in the Gulf. They found 32 parts of oil, per cubic inch of water evenly for the 1st 30 ft of water. The particles looked like tiny pieces of wood bark. They were not visible from the surface. They were as much as 20 miles ahead of the patches and sheen that my team was mapping. We could not see it from the helicopter, even at 400 ft. It was aromatic and could be smelled by people on or in the water. Tx. A&M identified Ixtoc I tar balls on Port Aransas beaches for 20 years afterward.
The offshore oil field diver who did the YouTube video (June) diving a rig and returning a week later, confirms that what I learned During Ixtoc I is happening now, but this is infinitely worse. The first segment shows nothing in the 1st 30 ft, except an even haze of particles. Much deeper (100 – 120 ft) life was teeming. A week later, no marine life, even at 120 ft. The coral on the rig was dead. Total devastation. You can see something never seen before. Big red globs of oil that he called snot balls (or phlegm). That is what they look like (below the 1st 30 ft). The only way to find it is with a diver and camera or an ROV camera. I cannot understand why someone has not gone to court to get an emergency cease and desist order to stop the use of dispersant at 5,000 ft depth. That was never an approved use, and it is causing so much devastation.
Wetlands are an important natural cleansing source for the environment!
They act as a sponge and provide a rich source of wildlife for our communities.
Some wetlands are considered "Waters of the U.S." under the Clean Water Act. These wetlands are regulated by the US Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Section 404 Permitting process. When we lose wetlands we lose the services they provide. When a landowner impacts regulated wetlands they are responsible for mitigating for the losses in services the wetlands provide.
We are losing many ecological services everyday, lets protect and manage the ones we still have left.
To report development of wetlands in your area click here!