May 5 event features guided tour of Sheldon Lake restored wetlands

May 03, 2016

By Cindie Powell

HOUSTON, Texas — A guided wetlands tour and presentations about best management practices for land restoration and stewardship are highlights at a Wetland Field Day May 5 at Sheldon Lake State Park in northeast Houston hosted by Texas A&M University’s Texas Coastal Watershed Program (TCWP).

TCWP, a collaboration of the Texas Sea Grant College Program and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, has been leading a partnership of 10 other state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations in prairie wetland restoration at the park for more than 12 years.

Marissa Sipocz, TCWP wetland program manager and the leader of the restoration project, said the Wetland Field Day is a special opportunity for Houstonians to learn about the importance of the wetlands in their city.

“Wetlands are a vital part of Texas natural areas, support many recreational and commercial activities, mitigate the impacts of flooding, filter pollutants, recharge reservoirs and groundwater, and provide habitat for wildlife,” she said. “This project has recreated an important historical landscape for the citizens of Houston and restored a valuable habitat for native flora and fauna.”

The Sheldon Lake State Park project began in 2003 as a partnership between TCWP and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to restore 136 acres of prairie wetland through an innovative technique that uses satellite and aerial photographs to identify historical locations of different wetland types. The project received the 2015 Keep Houston Beautiful Mayor’s Proud Partners Award. When the fourth phase of the project is completed in Fall 2016, it will bring the total number of acres restored to 208.

The Wetland Field Day will begin at 8:30 a.m. and continue until 3:30 p.m. Presentations by TPWD and Ducks Unlimited experts will focus on restoration methodology and best management practices for non-game wildlife, and Sipocz will lead a tour of the earliest phases of the restoration. Lunch is included. RSVPs are required; send an email to Sipocz at m-sipocz@tamu.edu or call 281-218-6253. The park is located at 14200 Garrett Road in Houston.

The Wetland Field Day is sponsored by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Texas Sea Grant and SWCA Environmental Consultants. The Sheldon Lake Wetland Restoration Project is funded in part through a Clean Water Act §319(h) grant from the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Texas Sea Grant is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the State of Texas and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Texas. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University. The program’s mission is to improve the understanding, wise use and stewardship of Texas coastal and marine resources.