New Texas A&M website to help landowners reap economic benefits from preserving wetlands

July 01, 2015

HOUSTON – A new website launched July 1 by Texas A&M University's Texas Coastal Watershed Program (TCWP) shows landowners on the Upper Texas Gulf Coast how conserving their wetlands can be an asset and source of economic benefit.

The new website, valuewetlands.tamu.edu, provides a clearinghouse of programs and tools that landowners can use to find out how to participate in wetland conservation to be eligible for benefits that may include direct payments or financial assistance, free technical services, tax deductions, low-interest loans, guaranteed loans, and regulatory assurances of exemptions from future legal requirements. Landowners can also learn more about wetland land types in Texas, wetland ecological services, and wetland permitting.

“Developers and other property owners have asked us how preserving or creating wetlands on their land could benefit their bottom line. We realized there wasn’t a central location where people can find out what programs and information are available to them, so we decided to make one,” said Mary Carol Edwards, TCWP’s Stormwater Wetland Program Coordinator. Located in Houston, TCWP is a partnership of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and the Texas Sea Grant College Program.

In April, more than 30 area natural resource professionals attended a full-day workshop to learn about economic incentives for wetland conservation, get answers on wetland mitigation, and hear about emerging markets for ecological services in our area. Speakers included Jim Blackburn of Rice University’s SSPEED Center, HARC President Jim Lester, Steve Walls with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other natural resource professionals. Videos of these talks are available at valuewetlands.tamu.edu.

Wetlands are a vital part of Texas natural areas and support many recreational and commercial activities, mitigate the impacts of flooding, filter pollutants, recharge reservoirs and groundwater, and provide habitat for wildlife. Since the Houston-Galveston region is forecast to grow to 9.3 million residents by 2040, it is expected that pressures on natural areas, such as wetlands will also increase.

This project was funded by the Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA) grant program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. TCWP’s mission is to provide knowledge to local governments and citizens on the impacts of land use on watershed health and water quality on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Media Note: For more information, contact Mary Carol Edwards at 281-989-5517 or mcedwards@tamu.edu. Photos are available upon request.

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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.