Beach Maintenance Advisory Committee
Nature Tourism Committee
East End Lagoon Committee
Master Naturalists and Other Concerned Individuals and Organizations
CALL FOR ACTION
We are reaching out to you to request your assistance and update you regarding the oil spill and the impact this incident has had on our parks along the ship channel and Gulf.
Since early Sunday morning Park Board staff has been on site at Seawolf and RA Appfel parks, including Big Reef Nature Preserve and East End Lagoon. Since Sunday these areas have been closed to the public due to the impacts of the oil spill. Immediate impacts included the direct landing of crude oil material on the shoreline, floating sheens of lighter pollutants on surface water and significant levels of airborne noxious toxins in the air.
Emergency response teams started to arrive on site 9:00 a.m. on Sunday to identify critical habitats and lay the first line of defense. Over the last two days, work has continued on fortifying defenses and protecting sensitive areas. Environmental quality indicators are being monitored continuously. (Remind us to have Chief P Davis tell the story of the ‘East End Pipe Bomb scare’.) In some of the most affected areas, remediation has already begun. In those areas where remediation is underway, hazmat teams are doing a noble job of clean up.
With that said, there are several areas that have not been protected or are inaccessible and not readily visible. Some of these areas contain the most critical habitats- such as the interior of the east end lagoon, the inlet channels of Big Reef and the coastal shores along Pelican Island.
According to official bulletins emanating out of the Joint Incident Command Center, the mass of slick has moved out of the ship channel and is expected to impact further down the coast (Matagorda – Lavaca area). What we are left dealing with is the residual effluents and masses that are lingering around the channel, jetties and our Gulf coast. Given predicted current changes and weather forecasts, this could drive material up on our beaches from Thursday to Friday. The West End is projected currently to get the brunt of the tar balls. Since Tuesday we are seeing half dollar sized globs from Dellanera Park to Indian Beach.
If currents turn rough and the weather is rainy during the remainder of the week, response efforts will be hampered.
At the same time, the impact further down the coast will shift emergency response (although we will have a local emergency coordination unit directly at the GI Convention Center beginning Friday) and media attention towards the affected area.
It is essential that we document the impact that the event has had with the intent of guiding immediate remediation efforts over the next two weeks and also ensuring that the impacted areas are restored over the medium term, including the establishment of extended monitoring programs.
For these reasons, we are reaching out to you to assist us with a rapid environmental assessment of several key areas, the identification of recommended monitoring points and the development of restoration environment and wildlife projects.
On Saturday, March 29th we will organize teams to visit affected areas along the coast to take pictures, gather data and produce a report. We will work from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 continuously and will provide breakfast and lunch. There are no ‘shifts’. Teams will be integrated with several volunteers of various skills and capacities and will work in the field and back in the office.
8:00 – 8:30 Registration, Identification and Team Assignment
8:30 – 9:00 Debriefing on Current Conditions and Projections
9:00 – 12:00 Deployment of Field Teams to Sites and Data Collection
9:00 – 12:00 Development of Report Format & Background Information by Base Team
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch
1:00 – 2:00 Report Redaction
Each field team will need to have the following skills:
Written notes documenting observations on environment and wildlife
GPS determination of specific contamination points
We are proposing aquatic teams to gather information from inside the lagoon, inlets and around Seawolf.
Field Teams will cover each of the following geographic areas:
Seawolf Park and surrounding areas
Pocket Parks 1, 2 and 3
San Luis Pass
Big Reef Inlets
East End Lagoon
East End San Jacinto Trail
Base Team will need skills to distill background information, compile information, create (GIS) maps and brainstorm restoration concepts for affected areas.
If you are interested in supporting this effort, and can participate in one of the above indicated manners, please enroll electronically starting at 4:00 on Wednesday:
Registration will be closed by Thursday at 5:00.
When volunteering, please indicate your preference for a field team or base team and identify which above mentioned skill you are offering.
If you come prepared to work in the field, please come dressed in closed toed work or walking shoes, long durable pants and long sleeves. Hats are also recommended. We will provide some equipment as well on site, such as gloves, pails and jiggers. (This is not a cleanup, rather an assessment!)
We would also ask that you bring a camera if possible. Also, if you have a lap top computer to help redact the final reports, please that as well.
If you have a question about the role you can play to assist, feel free to reach out to me directly at the number below or email below.
Kelly de Schaun
Galveston Island Park Board of Trustees
Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau
601 Tremont Street
Galveston Island, Texas 77550
Please find below information on activities taking place by the community at large in response to the recent oil spill in Galveston Bay and information on where to direct volunteers and others interested in responding to the oil spill.
Galveston Bay Foundation to Serve as Volunteer Management Organization for Oil Spill in Galveston Bay
Under the terms of a pre-existing Memorandum of Agreement with the Coast Guard and the General Land Office, the Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF) will serve as the Volunteer Management Organization in response to the oil spill in Galveston Bay that took place on Saturday, March 22, 2014. A GBF representative is currently at incident command working with the incident command team.
Individual volunteers have not yet been activated by incident command, but persons who are interested in serving as volunteers should they be needed may sign up now by visitinghttps://www.piersystem.com/go/mailinglist/4703/. Volunteer tasks may include administrative/clerical duties, basic needs and logistics, technical and medical needs, pre-impact beach cleanup and surveillance, basic construction, plumbing, and electrical work, etc.National News CoverageLA Times - Discusses wildlife impacts as well as impact to Port of Houstonhttp://www.latimes.com/topic/environmental-issues/environmental-pollution/water-pollution/gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-(2010)-EVHST0000243.topicReuters - Oil spill cleanup efforts continue off Texas Gulf shoreBoston Herald - 'Significant' oil spill closes US ship channelTime – Crews Try to Contain Oil Spill in Galveston BayWashington Post - Oil spill cleanup impedes major Texas ship channelhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/national/energy-environment/galveston-bay-oil-spill-threatens-bird-migration/2014/03/23/74278586-b243-11e3-b8b3-44b1d1cd4c1f_story.htmlLocal News CoverageKHOU - Houston Ship Channel Oil spill could impact tens of thousands of birdsHouston Business Journal – Houston Ship Channel Blocked after weekend oil spillhttp://www.bizjournals.com/houston/morning_call/2014/03/houston-ship-channel-blocked-after-weekend-oil.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+bizj_national+%28Bizjournals+National+Feed%29Guidry News - Progress continued throughout the day Sunday in response to a bunker fuel spill in the Houston Ship Channel that resulted in the release of approximately 168,000 gallons of product. - See more at: http://www.guidrynews.com/story.aspx?id=1000059753Houston Chronicle - Spill comes at 'worst time' for wildlife in Galveston Bay
Impact of Spill on Local Environment and Fisheries Feared
Galveston, Texas--Although the Houston and Galveston economies benefit from thriving ports and industrial complexes these endeavors often come at an expense to others. The recovery effort to remove heavy oil spilled into the bay from the recent barge accident in the Houston Ship Channel closed the channel for other shipping commerce, cruise ships returning home, and at least eight refineries along the channel.
Area residents are concerned about the impact on the commercial and recreational fishing as well as the health of the oyster and shrimp. It is also estimated that 50,000 shore and seabirds roost only two miles away from the spill at the Bolivar Flats refuge.
Baykeeper Charlotte Cherry states, “Our organization, ‘Galveston Baykeeper’ is concerned with the methods used to recover the oil such as the use as chemical dispersants which will break up the oil and make it appear that there’s no oil, but actually make it virtually impossible to clean up. Our understanding is Corexit is not used within inland waters, such as our bay and have not been utilized on this spill. Will dispersants be used now since the slick has moved off shore in the Gulf? The impacted resources wherever the oil comes ashore is our concern." Galveston Baykeeper (GBK) is a member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance, a global environmental movement which began in 1966 with the Hudson River Fisherman’s Association and grew to encompass waterways around the world. GBK recently worked a number of cases that involve illegal discharges into Galveston Bay. Proceeds from those cases provided support to the Armand Bayou Nature Center, the Galveston Bay Foundation, and most recently the Texas Native Prairie Association.
Speaking with Mary Smith, one of the Hillman sisters who operate the seafood market established by their grandparents over 50 years ago, she said, "This is devastating to the fishing industry. The Health Department shut down oystering two weeks ago and now this. Our business is a dead zone. We're selling crawfish and that's about it. Even though the seafood is not harmful for consumption, the public's perception is they won't eat seafood from our waters for a couple of years. We lived through the hardships our parents experienced and to go through all this now is heartbreaking. In the midst of this, I am still optimistic. Our faith gives us strength opportunity will open for us to survive."
Galveston Baykeeper encourages our membership to unite with Galveston Bay Foundation volunteers in the cleanup effort. Individual volunteers have not yet been activated by incident command, but persons who are interested in serving as volunteers should they be needed may sign up now by visiting www.galvbay.org.
About Galveston Baykeeper
The mission of the Galveston Baykeeper is to preserve and to protect the health of Galveston Bay and its watershed for our children, our economy and our future through advocacy and education and enforcement of the Clean Water Act. The Galveston Baykeeper is a non-profit organization under Section 501 (C) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. For further information contact 281-639-3505. Follow on Twitter: Galveston Baykeeper@Gbaykeeper or like us on Facebook: Galveston Baykeeper
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!