County officials have sharp words for Army Corps, meager inclusion of South Padre Island
By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
During a public meeting held in Port Isabel last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Texas General Land Office (GLO) unveiled an ambitious plan to protect the Texas coast from the effects of climate change, continued development, coastal erosion, severe tropical weather and more. The plan, which is still in its preliminary stages, also aims to conserve habitat and endangered wildlife.
It’s a project the Corps and the GLO have been working on since 2015, when Congress authorized the two entities to begin researching the issues affecting Texas’ 367 miles of coastline in order to propose potential solutions for mitigating damage that could affect not only the state’s economy, but the national one, as well.
The plan involves conducting a 5-year study that examines existing data, newly developed scientific models, and input from coastal scientists, conservationists, and industry leaders in the business and energy sectors. Too, the plan takes into account feedback from other stakeholders across the coast, including coastal residents and community leaders.
It’s a plan that has national significance and will require federal and local funding to pull off — to the tune of an estimates $23-32 billion dollars, according to preliminary estimates. According to officials, the federal government will contribute 65 percent of the project’s funding via congressional appropriation. The State of Texas will be required to contribute the remaining 35 percent.
Known as the Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study — or Coastal Texas Study, for short, is currently halfway through its 5-year investigatory timeline. USACE and GLO experts have thus far identified what they think are the key priorities that need addressing, and have also proposed potential solutions to those issues.
Last week’s meeting at the Port Isabel Event & Cultural Center was just one of a slate of public meetings the two organizations have held up and down the coast in order to gather input from coastal residents about the project’s progress so far.
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