HOUSTON (KW39) –
When hurricanes hit land, barrier islands absorb much of their force. Reduction of wave energy and protection of inland areas.
âWithin the Galveston Bay system, we still have our barrier islands, the Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island. We worry about sea levels over time. A 3-4 foot projection will take away many of these barrier islands, âsays Bob Stokes.
They also provide a protected environment for estuaries and marshes to form behind them, which are home to the native wildlife that are vital to the Gulf Coast.
âThink things like the Grand Canyon, that’s a long-term erosion problem right there. And we see similar problems in Galveston Bay. The erosion has scalloped the interior of our property, âhe adds.
To combat this problem, rock breakwaters are being built just offshore which, on a smaller scale, offer essentially the same benefits as barrier islands.
Says Stokes, âIf this wave slows down after it hits the rock breakwater, the sediment slows down, it falls out and can build up again. We’re building land between the rock breakwater and our coast. To ultimately protect our coast. When we have rock, land and then coastline, we have a lot more protection from future waves and future storms. “
Many homeowners use concrete bulkheads to protect their property, this works in the short term, but sometimes the waves rip out underneath and the concrete bulkhead falls over.
A vibrant coastline is being built here: this is a more natural strategy for maintaining your coastline.
âWe’ve worked with homeowners across the bay trying to do something that is natural and in some cases cheaper and lasts longer. A concrete bulkhead will eventually fail. When you put in a rock system that has the rocks and builds the swamp again. That will be there forever, so I think as the hurricane season starts we will be more focused on some of these issues, but they are year round issues and we are always ready to work with people throughout the year. If we lost these barrier islands over time, Galveston Bay could look more like the Gulf of Mexico than a freshwater system, âsays Stokes.
We need to remember that hurricanes are natural and that the ecosystems on the Texas coast have been around longer than we have.
Stokes mentions, “The systems are designed to interact with the hurricane, there may be some short-term effects … Certainly there are effects on the people who live on the coast … But if we weren’t here, a hurricane might be there burn out. âIf there were some short term changes in salinity, there might be some changes in freshwater wetlands that could be inundated with salt water, but they would recover. The bay and the surrounding land are quite resilient. ”
During Hurricane Harvy, heavy rain poured into Galveston Bay, diluting the salinity to near zero.
âOysters can’t handle this, so our oysters really suffered. Most of the oysters died, but the good news is that they are recovering. We are almost 4 years later and have healthy oyster harvests for 2020 and 2021, âsays Stokes.
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