Volunteers Set to Plant New Galveston Bay Marsh

An annual effort to restore wetlands in Galveston Bay gets underway tomorrow, with more than a hundred volunteers expected to plant acres of marsh grass near Bayou Vista. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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The Galveston Bay Foundation has been planting marsh grass and creating new wetlands for the past 8 years, with the latest effort tomorrow at Pierce Marsh near Hitchcock. Foundation president Bob Stokes says volunteers will plant 4500 stalks of grass that will eventually be part of a 200-acre marsh.

"They get out there and we give them a little tool called a dibble, which is basically a specialized type of shovel, and they dig a little hole and they generally work with a partner and the partner will come in a stick a stalk of grass in that hole and close it up. And they'll just move down the line until essentially the exterior of the terrace itself is going to be covered with a row or two rows of marsh grass."

Galveston Bay has lost around 35,000 acres of marsh and wetlands over the past 50 years, mostly due to subsidence. The Galveston Bay Foundation hopes to eventually restore 24,000 of those acres. Stokes says wetlands are a critical part of the estuary system.

"Nearly all of our commercially and recreationally viable fish in Galveston Bay spend some portion of their life-cycle in wetlands, in marsh like this. It's also a great nesting and foraging area for birds, water birds. Marsh and wetlands also provide water quality improvements. They're a natural filter for pollutants so we'll also be improving the water quality out here by restoring this marsh."

Tomorrow's event starts at 8 am. You can find directions to the site on our website at KUHF.org.

Head south on the I-45 Gulf Freeway. Exit at exit #7. Head west on Highway Six for one mile. Take a left on Harbor Drive. Look for the signs to the planting site.

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