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2017 Impact Report

Guardian of Galveston Bay since 1987


From our president The word “protect” is featured on the cover of this year’s report because for our first 30 years, “protect” has been a core tenant of what you’ve helped us do for Galveston Bay. Our long-term efforts to improve the health of Galveston Bay by investing in wetland restoration, land preservation and water quality projects helped protect the Bay from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Harvey in 2017 by mitigating those storm impacts. And you helped protect the Bay from many of the short-term impacts of the storm by mobilizing immediately to help remove trash and debris that had piled up on shorelines around Galveston Bay. Whether you got directly involved by removing trash from the marsh at one of our post-Harvey cleanups or by donating to support those efforts, we thank you for being a part of our story. Through this report, you will see a range of initiatives that helped “protect” the Bay this year — from connecting students to the outdoors to planting trees at one of our nature preserves to protecting over 660 feet of shoreline with restored oyster reef. We thank you for everything we’ve accomplished together, and it is with inspiration and hope for our Bay that I look forward to the future and next 30 years of Galveston Bay Foundation!

Bob Stokes President, Galveston Bay Foundation


Working together






for a better Galveston Bay.

Mission, Challenge, Opportunities The mission of Galveston Bay Foundation is to preserve and enhance Galveston Bay as a healthy and productive place for generations to come. The importance of Galveston Bay is clear, as is our need to steward it well. We can’t afford to abuse, mismanage or ignore. We must care. Galveston Bay Foundation meets that challenge with courage and vision and a commitment to ensure that the benefits of the work to protect Galveston Bay are seen and felt from the local to the national levels.


NMFS Dolphin Permit #18881 2

Had I not experienced Galveston Bay Foundation’s education program, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.

- Austin Perez, former GBF Get Hip to Habitat student currently majoring in marine biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston


GROWING BAY STEWARDS GBF’s education programs cultivate lifelong stewards of the Bay through environmental education experiences that nurture exploration and inquisition.

PROGRAMS, WORKSHOPS & EVENTS - Students in Action - Get Hip to Habitat - Bay Ambassadors - Family Adventures on the Bay - Educator Workshops - Bay Day Festival - Bike Around the Bay



2017 Milestones EDUCATED 1,000 students from 12 schools and organizations in one-day service projects through the Students In Action program and delivered Bay Ambassador presentations to 1,200 students at 22 schools and organizations LED 900 students at 15 schools in growing their own marsh grass and later transplanting it to Galveston Bay through our Get Hip to Habitat program PROVIDED a new program called Family Adventures on the Bay to over 50 participants of all ages at GBF’s Trinity Bay Discovery Center TRAINED and provided newly-developed curriculum to over 30 teachers HOSTED Bay Day Festival at Kemah Boardwalk with 35 exhibits and an estimated 6,000 attendees


REACHED nearly 1,000 cyclists from Texas and beyond through our two-day Bike Around the Bay event, exposed them to the beauty of Galveston Bay, and donated over $30,000 of proceeds to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

CONQUERING FEARS DURING HURRICANE HARVEY In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the GBF staff was hard at work evaluating the impact the storm had on the Bay when Naleah, a former Get Hip to Habitat student, reached out. When we first met Naleah, she was afraid of the water — it moved, and you couldn’t see the bottom — and she wasn’t interested in getting muddy. But after a whole school year of cultivating her marsh grass in the Get Hip to Habitat program, she cared about it and was determined that if anyone would give the grass a new home in the Bay, it would be her. So she conquered her fear. Flash forward to Harvey, when the hurricane dumped more than 40 inches of rain in Naleah’s neighborhood. Within minutes, the water overwhelmed the storm sewers, and within hours, it started rising inside Naleah’s house. Naleah and her family were terrified. But Naleah had gotten over her fear once, and she could do so again. And on August 27, Naleah led her parents and elderly grandmother through the rising floodwaters to safety. She wanted GBF to know that, had it not been for her Get Hip to Habitat experience, her story might have had a different ending. We are so thankful for your help providing students all around the Houston-Galveston area with the crucial skills, understanding and experiences to feel comfortable in their environment.


I became very passionate about restoring oyster reef after learning about all of its positive environmental impacts on Galveston Bay.

- Catherine Bradley, Venture Scout who built 100 feet of oyster reef at GBF’s Sweetwater property and constructed a shade structure for future project volunteers as part of her Summit Award Project


ENSURING FUTURE HABITAT GBF’s habitat restoration and protection initiatives focus on three areas — protecting vulnerable habitats from erosion or habitat conversion; restoring lost or degraded wetlands, oyster reefs, coastal prairie and bird rookery habitats; and removing marine debris. Many of these efforts are community-based and allow the public to have a hand in creating healthy habitats.

PROGRAMS, PROJECTS & EVENTS - Moses Lake and Dollar Bay Shoreline Protection and Marsh Restoration Project - Oyster Shell Recycling, Oyster Gardening, and Reef Restoration - Living Shorelines - Marine Debris Removal - Marsh Mania - Abandoned Crab Trap Removal - Trash Bash and Adopt-ABeach Cleanup



2017 Milestones RECLAIMED 188 tons of oyster shells from Tommy’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar, Topwater Grill, the Kemah Aquarium, Crazy Alan’s Swamp Shack, Captain Benny’s Seafood, and Tookie’s Seafood PROTECTED 575 feet of shoreline and restored reef habitat along Sweetwater Lake using 65 tons of recycled oyster shells TRANSPLANTED 945 baby oysters (aka spat) from 44 piers around the Bay to restoration reefs in San Leon and Galveston through GBF’s Oyster Gardening Program REMOVED 329 abandoned crab traps from Trinity Bay and East Galveston Bay as part of Texas Parks and Wildlife’s annual Abandoned Crab Trap Removal event PARTNERED with the Baytown Nature Center and Crouch Environmental Services, Inc. to build an 85foot shoreline protection reef (oyster bar) utilizing 23 tons of recycled oyster shells



CLEANED UP nearly 3 tons of trash and recyclables as well as 8 tires from the Armand Bayou watershed as part of River, Lakes, Bays ‘N Bayous Trash Bash event COORDINATED a trash cleanup site with Port Houston at Morgan’s Point as part of the Texas Adopt-A-Beach Cleanup program and removed 1.3 tons of trash and recyclable materials from a 1.5-mile stretch of shoreline PLANTED 1.18 acres of estuarine intertidal marsh grass at planting events in Dickinson and Anahuac through our spring and fall Marsh Mania events REMOVED 56 tons of marine debris from Galveston Bay, including 12 abandoned boats, 1 jet ski, and 51 free floating wooden pilings EDUCATED constituents about living shorelines and the Living Shorelines Academy through 4 public living shorelines presentations



Ryan Cabana was inspired by participating in Marsh Mania, our annual community-based marsh restoration event, to create his 6th grade science fair project on marsh maintenance. He earned second place in the CCISD District Science Fair in the environmental category.

I participate in Marsh Mania year to year. It left a growing impression on me because I love helping wildlife and habitats. My project was influenced by questioning the effects of Hurricane Harvey on the health of one of the planting sites.


- Ryan Cabana, 6th grade Marsh Maniac


With the Galveston Bay Action Network app, you can easily report pollution, get it cleaned up, and keep our environment healthy so everyone can enjoy it. - Caroline Hambre, Galveston Bay Action Network app user


KEEPING GALVESTON BAY FISHABLE AND SWIMMABLE Our water programs monitor the health of the Bay through collaborative planning, community action and policy work, and provide opportunities for citizens, organizations, businesses and cities to take action so that the Bay’s water remains fishable and swimmable.

PROGRAMS, WORKSHOPS & CAMPAIGNS - Volunteer Water Monitoring - Rain Barrel Workshops - Pump Don’t Dump Campaign - Cease the Grease Campaign - Galveston Bay Action Network - Dockwalker Program - Texas Living Waters Project



2017 Milestones LAUNCHED a mobile app for the Galveston Bay Action Network pollution reporting tool that allows the public to report pollution around the Bay and automatically forwards those reports to the proper authorities. The app was downloaded over 4,000 times and ~60 pollution reports were filed in 2017. DISTRIBUTED 316 rain barrels, which have the potential to conserve over 329,000 gallons of water per year DEVELOPED and launched the Water Wise Bay Cities Challenge, a friendly water conservation competition that engaged 24 Bay Area cities and their residents in water conservation for the Bay and resulted in 2.5 million gallons of potential annual water savings in the Bay Area ASSISTED in the creation and implementation of regional Watershed Protection Plans and Total Maximum Daily Load Implementation Plans PARTNERED with Harris-Galveston Subsidence District to promote the Galveston Bay Water Brigade as part of the Larry the Talking Sprinkler Toolbox Campaign


RESEARCH ANALYZED 615 water quality samples and processed 440 bacteria samples from volunteers at 66 locations around the Bay SURVEYED ~100 boaters to better educate proper boating habits in Galveston Bay. CONDUCTED 2 to 4 boat-based dolphin surveys per month to study the bottlenose dolphin population of upper Galveston Bay (in partnership with the Environmental Institute of Houston) TRAINED 14 citizen monitors for the Galveston Bay Dolphin Research and Conservation Program Field Research Assistant program and utilized their services on the boat-based dolphin surveys PRESENTED bottlenose dolphin research at the biennial international meeting of the Society for Marine Mammalogy in Halifax, Canada 16

of our friends have friends and family members “ All who lost their homes due to the hurricane. Our parks

department suffered some losses as well. We’re still giving back, and we’re doing something that impacts us greatly. - Christina Butcher, E.P.I.C. Service Learning Club, City of Baytown and Post-Harvey cleanup volunteer


HURRICANE HARVEY RESPONSE EFFORTS MOBILIZED 140 volunteers in removing over 7,000 pounds of debris at Texas City Prairie Preserve, Morgan’s Point, and GBF’s Kemah property, and engaged an additional 3 volunteers in repair and dune access work at Galveston Island State Park MONITORED and published water quality impacts from Hurricane Harvey CONDUCTED Post-Harvey dolphin research efforts that were featured on the front page of the Houston Chronicle


The work we do with GBF is important for helping combat issues like erosion, habitat loss and much more to protect the coast’s resiliency.

- Sarah Campbell, Conservation Corps Coastal Programs Coordinator


MANAGING OUR LAND GBF is an accredited land trust and protects natural areas by acquiring real estate and partnering with landowners to establish conservation easements on private lands. GBF has a responsibility to steward our protected properties in a way that promotes high quality habitats and clean water for our Bay. Volunteers are encouraged to join us for “stewardship workdays” to help care for our land.



Sunset Cove, Galveston County Shipe Woods, Chambers County Crystal Dunes, Galveston County Rich Sanctuary, Chambers County Moore Wildlife Sanctuary, Galveston County Pierce Marsh, Galveston County Melinda’s Marsh, Galveston County Sweetwater Preserve, Galveston County Turtle Bayou, Chambers County Frost-Deen Sanctuary, Galveston County Celanese, Harris County Texas City Preserve, Galveston County Exploration Green, Harris County Burnet Bay, Harris County Lone Pine Farm, Brazoria County Wright Preserve, Galveston County Greens Bayou, Harris County Cotton Bayou, Chambers County Gordy Marsh, Chambers County Trinity Bay Center, Chambers County Coastal Heritage Preserve, Chocolate Bayou, Brazoria County Galveston County Fee simple – GBF has complete ownership of the tract of land. Conservation easement – A voluntary legal agreement between a land trust (GBF) and a landowner.



2017 Milestones MAINTAINED and/or cleared 4.82 miles of trails and 1,584 feet of fence line, treated invasive species on 269.59 acres, assisted in leading land stewardship workdays, and established our native plant grow-out program with support from our two seasonal technicians PLANTED 220 trees at locations including Rich Sanctuary and Turtle Bayou CLEARED approximately 1,425 feet of trails at Turtle Bayou Nature Preserve with assistance from the Student Conservation Association COMPLETED a 140-acre wetland and coastal prairie restoration project at GBF’s Rich Sanctuary


Galveston Bay Foundation Land Conserved


(8,040 Acres)

7,000 6,000 2013: Received Land Trust Accreditation

4,000 3,000 2,000

7 201

201 1

200 6

200 1


199 6

1,000 199 1





GBF was forged by threats to Galveston Bay and was put together by an amalgam of groups and interested individuals, a recipe that remains today. - Jim Blackburn, GBF Founding Chairman



WATCHING OVER OUR BAY GBF’s advocacy program allows us to serve as the guardian of Galveston Bay. GBF reviews numerous projects and actively participates in the public review of those projects by attending public meetings and submitting written public comments. The overarching goal is to encourage and actively seek solutions to conflicts among the diverse users of the Bay. We attempt to balance the multiple uses of Galveston Bay so that the long-term interests of the Bay itself are not compromised.

ADVOCACY & OUTREACH AREAS - Galveston Bay Report Card - San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site - Seafood Consumption Safety - Wetland Permit Review - Storm Surge Mitigation -Stormwater Management -Freshwater Inflows



2017 Milestones RELEASED the 2017 Galveston Bay Report Card, with the Bay maintaining an overall grade of “C�, and received press coverage including radio and TV interviews and news articles, at least 6 of which were in Spanish SUCCESSFULLY advocated for removal of the dioxin waste at the San Jacinto River Waste Pits (SJRWP) in Channelview by providing official comments to EPA and educating and rallying local community members, recreational fishermen, commercial fishermen, and all 8 local U.S. congressmen to support the call for removal via presentations, editorials, and print/radio/television interviews. In October, the EPA made the decision to require removal of toxic waste from the SJRWP. ENGAGED in dialogue with local staff of our U.S. and State representatives and senators on a variety of Galveston Bay issues including San Jacinto River Waste Pits, storm surge mitigation, seafood consumption safety, oyster regulations, and the Clean Waters Rule (Waters of the U.S.) REVIEWED 17 applications for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits and provided a letter of concern on 3 of them. The Wetland Permit Review also provided a public comment letter on the Houston Ship Channel Expansion Channel Improvement Project Draft Environmental Impact Study.


The EPA’s October decision to require removal of the dioxin-laden waste from the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site at I-10 in Channelview ended a lengthy period of debate and will result in final remediation and cleanup. GBF advocated for years for the removal of the old paper mill waste, which was first pumped into pits along the San Jacinto River in the mid-1960s. The site has had a temporary cap of rock in place for the last several years, but because it is located in a high-energy zone subject to flooding, it had repeat maintenance issues and exposed more waste to the San Jacinto River. “Now that the EPA has announced this final decision, it is imperative that they ensure the cleanup and removal begin as soon as possible,” said Scott Jones, GBF Director of Advocacy.


These accomplishments would not be possible without support from dedicated GBF volunteers.

In 2017, 2,730 volunteers donated 9,901 hours to help protect Galveston Bay. Thank you!

AWARDS • Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Award from the Texas General Land Office for the Galveston Bay Action Network (GBAN) mobile app • Certificate of Recognition in the 2017 Mayor’s Proud Partners Program for the Galveston Bay Report Card


Thank you for making positive changes in our Bay.

1100 Hercules Avenue, Suite 200, Houston, TX 77058 | (281) 332-3381

GBF 2017 Impact Report  

Thank you for everything you have helped us accomplish over the past 30 years.

GBF 2017 Impact Report  

Thank you for everything you have helped us accomplish over the past 30 years.