ROCKPORT, Texas — Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Lester Contracting, Inc. have begun construction of an offshore rock breakwater as Phase 1 of a shoreline stabilization and marsh restoration project.

The 4,400 foot long breakwater, located approximately 500 feet offshore, is designed to protect the mile long southern shoreline of Goose Island from erosion from wave action driven by prevailing southeasterly winds. The offshore breakwater will create a quiet lagoon effect in the 40 acres of bay between the breakwater and Goose Island, enhancing the habitat for seagrasses and the animals that depend on them.

A containment levee is also being constructed behind Goose Island that will be used to receive dredge material from nearby boat channels to create a salt marsh in a future phase of the project. The project was developed in partnership with federal, state, and local agencies and organizations.

Coastal wetland loss in Texas is significant and is a continuing concern because of the essential roles that wetlands perform. The marshes, seagrass beds, tidal flats, oyster reefs, and open water habitats associated with Goose Island are highly productive for the living marine resources in the Aransas Bay system, including important commercial and recreational fisheries species. These habitats and the upland habitats on Goose Island also provide feeding, roosting, and nesting habitat for other wildlife in the area, including several federal and state listed threatened and endangered species. TPWD staff and contractors compared aerial photography from 1969 and 2002 and determined that more than 25 acres of Goose Island has eroded from the southern shoreline during the 33 year time period.

Implementation of the shoreline stabilization and marsh restoration project at Goose Island State Park supports the goals and objectives of the Texas Wetlands Conservation Plan, the Seagrass Conservation Plan for Texas, and the Coastal Bend Bays Plan by conserving valuable fish and wildlife habitats, using dredge material beneficially, and addressing shoreline erosion. The breakwater will protect 15 acres of existing seagrasses and 10 acres of existing saltmarsh dominated by smooth cordgrass. The future marsh site will restore 24 acres of saltmarsh that have been lost through erosion.

The breakwater and future marsh will also enhance the aquatic habitats in the bay between Goose Island and the mainland and help protect the Lamar Peninsula shoreline from erosion. Completion of the breakwater and the marsh creation site is expected to cost about $1.5 million.

Project partners include the Texas Coastal Coordination Council providing Coastal Impact Assistance Program funds administered through the Texas General Land Office; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration providing Coastal Impact Assistance Program funds administered through Aransas County and Community-based Restoration Program funds administered through the Gulf of Mexico Foundation; the Texas General Land Office contributing Coastal Erosion Planning and Response Act (CEPRA) funds; the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service providing Texas Coastal Program funds; the Environmental Protection Agency Gulf of Mexico Program providing funds administered through the Gulf of Mexico Foundation; and TPWD. Additional contributors and partners include the Neptune Harbor Canal and Property Owners Association, St. Mary’s Energy Company and Oxy USA Inc.

Goose Island is part of Goose Island State Park located on the southern tip of Lamar Peninsula, 10 miles northeast of Rockport in Aransas County. It is located in the northern end of Aransas Bay near the mouth of Copano Bay, along the central Texas coast. The park is composed of 321.4 acres and is bounded by Aransas and St. Charles bays.

Goose Island State Park provides facilities that support camping, fishing and birding activities. Facilities include shade shelter campsites with water and electricity located on the island near the bay and in the heavily wooded area of the mainland portion of the park. Restrooms, picnic sites, a double-lane boat ramp, a 1,620-foot long lighted fishing pier, a group recreational hall and playground areas are also located at the park. Goose Island State Park was acquired by TPWD from 1931-35 by deeds from private owners and a Legislative Act setting aside the state-owned Goose Island as a state park. The earliest park facilities were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the early 1930s.

For further information about the Goose Island Shoreline Stabilization and Marsh Restoration Project, please contact the TPWD project manager, Kay Jenkins, at (361) 790-0325 or the Goose Island State Park manager, Stormy Reeves, at (361) 729-2858.

– Texas Saltwater Fishing Guide