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Environmental Institute of Houston > Environmental Education > San Jacinto Marsh Restoration Project

San Jacinto Marsh Restoration Project

The San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site preserve the--site of the famous 1836 battle where Texas won her independence from Mexico--is the oldest and most visited state park in Texas. Along with the battleground proper, the one thousand acre park preserves the last significant natural tidal marsh in the lower San Jacinto River drainage. In the last half century, subsidence and erosion almost destroyed the 200-acre marsh, but thanks to an ambitious restoration plan and a partnership including federal and state agencies, and the private sector, the marsh is being saved for future generations of people and wildlife. Half of the once drowned marsh has been innovatively rehabilitated with used dredge sediment and revegetated. The second half is being rehabilitated as additional sediment becomes available. The areas of restored marsh are used intensively by wildlife, including the river otter, roseate spoonbill and wood stork.

The park is surrounded by petrochemical and related industries. The natural habitat preserved at San Jacinto is both a haven and an island for resident and migratory wildlife. The restored marsh presents a rare opportunity not only to expose visitors to the values of wetlands, but also to demonstrate the potential for restoration of degraded habitat--and the good that can come from cooperation between public and private sectors.

The marsh restoration complements a new park master plan that includes restoration of prairie and bottomland hardwood forest and construction of a new visitor center and museum where the significance of the natural setting at San Jacinto will be explored. The purpose of the current phase of the marsh restoration is to provide a venue for the park’s one million annual visitors to experience marsh, prairie, and forest first hand. A fully accessible trail is 1500 feet long, including 900 feet of all-weather trail through coastal tallgrass prairie, and 600 feet of boardwalk trail, which will take visitors across the marsh to the bottomland forest on the far shore. Decks in the marsh and forest provide vantage points for wildlife watching and group programs.

This public awareness and education phase of the Marsh Restoration Project is especially important for introducing people to the values of native coastal habitats and soliciting their support for conservation. Without public awareness and support, efforts to preserve and restore more of our environment are doomed to fall short of our conservation needs. The trail will include kiosk exhibits and signage complemented by special programs. The displays target all park visitors, especially urbanites unfamiliar with the outdoors. The trail and trail information in the park seeks to attract visitors who are otherwise visiting the San Jacinto Monument or the Battleship Texas.

The Environmental Institute of Houston (EIH) uses this location as a centerpiece of its natural history training for teachers of K - 6 children. Many of the teachers come from school districts that are near the park. Marsh and prairie habitats at the park are analogous to the habitats created on schoolyards through a partnership among EIH, USFWS, and business contributors. Teachers can be trained in field identification of plants and animals, ecological principles, and animal behavior interpretation. Other environmental education programs such as Project Learning Tree, Project WILD, and Wonders of Wetlands are conducted at the site.

San Jacinto Marsh Restoration Site 
Related links
 San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
 Marsh Trail Guide: Habitats of the Upper Texas Coast Marsh Trail Guide: Habitats of the Upper Texas Coast
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