Upper Coast Wetland Sites

The Upper Coast is broken down further into the following areas:

THE BIG THICKET

SABINE LAKE AND CHENIER PLAIN

TRINITY RIVER AND DELTA

SAN JACINTO RIVER

GREATER HOUSTON AREA

KATY PRAIRIE

GALVESTON BAY AND BARRIER ISLAND

BRAZOS RIVER AND DELTA

 

THE BIG THICKET

BIG THICKET NATIONAL PRESERVE

Owner: National Park Service 409/246-2337 (Info. Station)
Nearest Town: Beaumont Size: 86,000 acres

Wetlands: Riverine forested- swamps and bottomland hardwoods Coastal flatwoods- mixed pine-hardwood; bogs

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, hiking, canoeing, boating, camping, fishing, hunting, biking, horseback riding, environmental education/interpretation

Description: The preserve consists of nine separate land units and four riparian corridors, and is known for exceptional diversity of plants, animals, and habitats. The Information Station, located in the Turkey Creek Unit north of Kountze in Hardin County, is open daily except December 25. No entrance fee and all programs are free. Advance reservations are required for all environmental education programs and interpretive activities.

Directions: Information Station- From Beaumont, take US 69/287 to seven miles north of Kountze. Turn east on FM 420 for 2.9 mi. to Info. Station and Kirby Nature Trail.

TONY HOUSEMAN WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA

Owner: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. 409/736-2551
Nearest Town: Orange Size: 3,313 acres

Wetlands: Riverine forested- cypress-tupelo swamp, bottomland hardwoods

Recreation: wildlife viewing, hiking, primitive camping, fishing, hunting, canoeing

Description: Known as Blue Elbow Swamp, this Sabine River wetland is one of the largest remaining blocks of swamp on the Texas coast. Water-tolerant trees and shrubs dominate this wetland; soils are saturated or flooded by water during much of the year. Pedestrian access at the Texas Dept. of Transportation Travel Information Center on the I-10 north service road. An extensive boardwalk system goes into the swamp. Facilities at the Info. Center.

Directions: On I-10 north service road at the Sabine River in Orange, TX.

VILLAGE CREEK STATE PARK

 

Source: TPWD

Owner: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. 409/755-7322
Nearest Town: Lumberton Size: 1,004 acres

Wetlands: Riverine forested- cypress-tupelo swamp, bottomland hardwoods

Recreation: wildlife viewing, camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, canoeing

Description: The park is heavily wooded and has frontage on Village Creek. Bottomland hardwood forests dominated by water oak, willow oak, black gum, red maple, black willow, green ash, yaupon, dwarf palmetto, gallberry holly, and some loblolly pine. Village Creek is a popular flat-water canoe/float stream. Wetland wildlife and waterbirds are abundant. The park is open year-round, there is an entrance fee. Call the park for details.

Directions: From Beaumont, take US 69 north. Take Mitchell Rd. exit onto Mitchell Rd. (just before US 69/96 split). Go about 0.4 mi. and turn north on FM 3513. Go about 2 mi. and turn east on Alma Dr. Cross railroad tracks (veer to left) and go 0.6 mi. to park entrance.

ROY E. LARSEN SANDYLAND SANCTUARY

Owner: Nature Conservancy of Texas, Inc. 409/385-0445 or 4135
Nearest Town: Silsbee Size: 5,593 acres

Wetlands: Riverine forested- cypress-tupelo swamp, bottomland hardwoods Coastal flatwoods- longleaf pine savanna

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, hiking, nature trails, interpretive display, guided tours

Description: Another Big Thicket site with exceptional biological diversity. Bottomland hardwood forests dominated by water oak and sweet gum, with willows and river birch along the stream banks. Open to the public during daylight hours. Six miles of nature trails and an interpretive display enhance the wildlife viewing. An eight-mile canoe trail on Village Creek provides bottomland wildlife viewing. Guided tours on the nature trails are available upon request.

Directions: From Beaumont, go north on US 96 to Silsbee. Turn west for 2.5 mi. on TX 327 to entrance. Canoe trail starts where FM 418 crosses Village Creek.

TYRRELL PARK & CATTAIL MARSH

Owner: City of Beaumont 409/866-0023
Nearest Town: Beaumont Size: 900 acres

Wetlands: Prairie potholes and marshes- constructed marsh

Recreation: wildlife viewing, hiking, park facilities

Description: The park is a multi-use facility. The cattail marsh is a component of the Beaumont wastewater treatment system. Water levels in the constructed wetland compartments fluctuate and attract a diverse variety of waterbirds. Visitors can walk the levees of the compartments. Day use, no fee.

Directions: From Beaumont, go west on I-10 and exit onto Walden Rd. Go south on Walden Rd., which becomes Tyrrell Park Rd., to entrance at Babe Zaharias Dr.

SABINE LAKE & CHENIER PLAIN

LOWER NECHES WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA

Owner: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. 409/736-2551
Nearest Town: Bridge City Size: 7,998 acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal marshes (brackish to freshwater)

Recreation: wildlife viewing, hiking, fishing, hunting, boating

Description: Land subsidence, caused by oil and gas extraction, plus saltwater intrusion have caused much marsh to be converted to open water. Area still supports some tidal marshes. Hiking on road and levee system. Area open for day-use only, portions open year-round. No facilities or potable water. Visitors 17 years old or older must possess one of several access permits; call area for details. More marsh along road to Bailey’s Fish Camp on Sabine Lake.

Directions: From Port Arthur, go north on TX 87 to Bridge City. Turn right on Lake St., go about 1.5 mi. to parking area and viewing platform on Lake St. Continue south to Bailey’s Fish Camp (shell road).

J. D. MURPHREE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA

Owner: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. 409/736-2551
Nearest Town: Port Arthur Size: 24,366 acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal marshes (brackish to freshwater); freshwater impoundments

Recreation: wildlife viewing, fishing, hunting, boating, nature trail

Description: Excellent for all types of wetland wildlife. Public hunting permitted for alligator, waterfowl, gallinule, rail, and snipe. Area open for day-use only and all units except one are accessible by boat only. One unit, with a nature trail and viewing platform, is accessible on foot. No facilities or potable water. Visitors 17 years old or older must possess one of several access permits; contact area for details and open dates. Texas Marshland Tours (409/736-3023, http://www.marshland.com/) operates commercial boat rides into the WMA.

Directions: From Port Arthur, go 3 mi. west on TX 73. From Winnie, go east 25 mi. on TX 73.

TEXAS POINT/MCFADDIN NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Owner: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 409/971-2909
Nearest Town: Sabine Pass Size: 8,900 acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal saltmarshes

Recreation: wildlife viewing, fishing/crabbing, hiking, boating, waterfowl hunting

Description: Excellent for wintering waterfowl and migrating songbirds. Lack of facilities, potable water, and interior roads combined with wet soils and biting insects requires visitors to be well prepared. Primitive trail accessible from the parking lot on TX 87 provides access to marsh and wooded cheniers. No fees and no restrictions on hours. Shallow-water boats can launch (for small fee) at private dock at Texas Bayou near east boundary. Headquarters at McFaddin NWR. TX 87 crosses tidal marshes north of Sabine Pass. The road from Sabine Pass to the Pilot Station at Texas Point crosses more tidal marshes.

Directions: From Port Arthur, take TX 87 about 15 mi. south to Sabine Pass. Go 2.4 mi. west (south) on 87 to nature trail. From Sabine Pass, go east on FM 3322, turn south on South 1st and go south to Texas Point.

SEA RIM STATE PARK

Alligator at Sea Rim State Park. (JACK LEWIS, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

Owner: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. 409/971-2559
Nearest Town: Sabine Pass Size: 4,141 acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal saltmarshes

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, beach activities, canoeing (rentals) and kayaking, camping, fishing, waterfowl hunting, nature trail, airboat tours

Description: Excellent for wetland and estuarine wildlife. Marsh airboat tours (fee) by reservation only. Gambusia Nature Trail is a boardwalk in the marsh with a self-guided booklet. Visitor Center has environmental exhibits. Marshlands Unit entrance on north side of TX 87; there is a boat ramp for shallow-water craft like canoes (rented at park) and kayaks. Boardwalk in riparian woods (black willow, and saltcedar) along south side of TX 87. Open year-round (entrance fee).

Directions: From Port Arthur, go south on TX 87 to Sabine Pass, then west on 87 for 10 mi. to park.

TRINITY RIVER & DELTA

UPPER TEXAS COAST WETLAND EDUCATION CENTER, INC.

Owner: Chambers-Liberty Counties Navigation District
Nearest Town: Anahuac

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal saltmarshes and mudflats; open bay Prairie potholes and marshes- freshwater marsh fringing Lake Anahuac

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, interpretive boat tours, nature trail

Description: Navigation District operates two 45-foot boats in the lower Trinity River Delta and the upper parts of Trinity and Galveston Bays. Boats can accommodate groups of up to 10 people. Boat tours include education and interpretation of wetlands and bay habitats. Call Navigation District for details. Lake Anahuac levee nature trail accessible on foot during daylight hours.

Directions: From I-10, take FM 563 exit and go south 7 mi. to Anahuac. Turn right on Miller Ave. and go to Anahuac Harbor. For nature trail, go west on TX 61 off FM 563 to Anahuac Pumping Station.

WALLISVILLE LAKE PROJECT

Owner: Army Corps of Engineers 409/389-2285
Nearest Town: Wallisville Size: 20,000 acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal marshes (brackish to freshwater) Riverine forested- swamps, bottomland hardwoods. Coastal flatwoods- hardwoods

Recreation: wildlife viewing, boating, fishing, waterfowl hunting

Description: Very diverse complex of tidally influenced estuarine and riverine wetlands. Visitor Center is located on the east levee at the lock on the Trinity River. The Trinity River Mouth Waterbird Rookery and Horseshoe Ponds trail are accessed here also. The 4-mile long west levee, accessible on foot, is reached off the west end of the Trinity River Bridge.The 80-acre Cedar Hill Park is on Lake Charlotte, on the only high ground in the area, in the middle of a cypress swamp. Contact Project office for open hours. No fees.

Directions: From Houston, go east on I-10, cross the Trinity River and exit onto frontage road (exit 806) at east end of bridge. Turn off frontage road, just before Levee Rd., onto an elevated road and go about 2 mi. to Visitor Center. Lake Charlotte is north on FM 563 off I-10 (4 mi. east of TR bridge) and west 1.3 mi. on Lake Charlotte Rd.

TRINITY RIVER NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Source: Gary Holmes

Owner: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 409/336-9786
Nearest Town: Cleveland Size: 4,547 acres

Wetlands: Riverine forested- swamps and bottomland hardwoods
Coastal flatwoods- pine and mixed pine-hardwood

Recreation: Currently, the refuge is closed to the public. Conservation-oriented group tours can be arranged by contacting the refuge.

Description: Land acquisition is ongoing at the refuge, located 45 miles northeast of Houston on the Trinity River floodplain. Excellent habitat for waterbirds, raptors, woodpeckers, and songbirds (especially warblers, vireos, and flycatchers). Three colonial waterbird rookeries.

Directions: From Houston, take I-10 east to TX-146 (Mount Belvieu exit), go north on TX-HWY 146 for 16 miles to US 90, turn right on US 90 and go 6 miles to Liberty. At Main St. (traffic light at McDonald’s), turn left and go 3.3 miles to FM 1011. Turn left and continue 0.6 miles. The office is on the left at 601 FM 1011, Liberty, Texas.

BIG CREEK SCENIC AREA

Owner: U. S. Forest Service 409/344-6205
Nearest Town: Shepherd Size: 1,450 acres

Wetlands: Riverine forested- bottomland hardwoods

Recreation: wildlife viewing, hiking

Description: In the Sam Houston National Forest in San Jacinto County. Miles of nature trails through extensive bottomland forests on Big Creek, a tributary of the Trinity River. A 5-mile trail connects the area with the Double Lake Recreation Area, which has a boardwalk through a marsh at the upper end of the lake. No fee.

Directions: From Houston, go north on US 59 to Cleveland. Go north 10 mi. on FM 2025, turn east on FM 2666 and go 2.5 mi. to FR 221 (gravel). Go north 0.5 mi. on FR 221 to FR 217, turn east and go 1 mi. to parking area. Double Lake entrance is 15 mi. north of Cleveland on FM 2025.

SAN JACINTO RIVER

JESSE H. JONES PARK & NATURE CENTER

Owner: Harris County Precinct 4 281/446-8588
Nearest Town: Humble Size: 225 acres

Wetlands: Riverine forested- swamp and bottomland hardwoods

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, hiking/biking, fishing, canoe/pontoon boat tours, interpretive displays, school outreach program

Description: The Center has a boardwalk in the forested bottomlands of Spring Creek, a tributary of the West Fork San Jacinto River. Excellent birdwatching, especially for warblers. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays are reserved for visiting school groups. Center also runs a school outreach program. Public and group canoe/pontoon boat tours offered periodically. Open year-round during daylight hours. All programs are free.

Directions: From Houston, go north about 19 mi. on US 59. Go west 1.8 mi. on FM 1960 to Kenswick Dr. Go north 1 mi. to entrance.

LAKE HOUSTON WILDERNESS PARK

Owner: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. 281/354-6881
Nearest Town: New Caney Size: 4,920 acres

Wetlands: Riverine forested- bottomland hardwoods
Coastal flatwoods- mixed pine-hardwood

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, hiking/biking, camping, nature study

Description: Miles of trails through extensive bottomland forests along Caney and Peach Creeks, and the East Fork San Jacinto River. Open year-round, every day. Day use from 8 am to 10 pm. Entrance fee; camping fees vary.

Directions: From Houston, go north on US 59 to New Caney exit and FM 1485. Go east 2 mi. to Baptist Encampment Rd.; turn south for 1.5 mi. to entrance.

SHELDON LAKE STATE PARK

Owner: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. 281/456-9350
Nearest Town: Sheldon Size: 2,503 acres

Wetlands: Riverine forested- swamp and bottomland hardwoods Coastal flatwoods- mixed pine-hardwood. Prairie pothole and marsh- marsh fringing reservoir.
Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, fishing, boating, canoeing, nature study, wildscape demonstration gardens

Description: The reservoir is on Carpenter’s Bayou, a tributary of Buffalo Bayou. Sheldon Lake Environmental Education Center offers fishing clinics, nature walks, and wetland studies to organized groups on a prearranged basis. Park has two boat ramps. Two miles of nature/interpretive trails with boardwalks and viewing platforms; also canoe trails. Entrance fee, contact Park for details.

Directions: From Houston, take I-10 east to Beltway 8. Go north about 8 mi. to Garrett Rd. Go east 2 mi. on Garrett Rd. to Park.

BAYTOWN NATURE CENTER & EDDIE V. GRAY WETLANDS EDUCATION & RECREATION CENTER

Owner: City of Baytown 281/420-7128 or 6597
Nearest Town: Baytown Size: 420+ acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal saltmarsh (natural and restored) Prairie pothole and marsh- demonstration marsh

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, hiking/jogging, fishing, boating, interpretive displays, wetland restoration activities

Description: Eddie V. Gray Center, on the bank of Goose Creek, has indoor classrooms, computer lab, and interpretive wetland displays, as well as indoor and outdoor fishing ponds. The Nature Center, on the San Jacinto River about 4 miles from EVG, is the outdoor classroom. The Nature Center was formerly the Brownwood subdivision that was abandoned due to land subsidence and flooding. Wetland restoration projects at both sites. No fees. Port-A-Cans available at Nature Center.

Directions: From Houston, go east on I-10 and exit on Spur 330/Decker to Baytown. To BNC, go right (south) on Bayway Dr. 1.5 mi., turn right on Shreck to dead end. To EVG, exit Spur 330 onto service road just before TX 146 (formerly Loop 201) overpass, go to dead end, left on J. B. LeFevre to dead end, left on Market St., first building on left.

SAN JACINTO BATTLEGROUND SHP

Owner: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. 281/479-2431
Nearest Town: La Porte Size: 1,121 acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal saltmarsh (restored)

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, picnicking, tours

Description: The State Historical Park’s tidal marshes, which played a role in the defeat of the Mexican Army in 1836, were lost due to land subsidence. The 200-acre marsh revegetation project used dredge spoil to raise the marsh elevation so marsh vegetation could survive. The project is the largest block of tidal marsh remaining on the lower San Jacinto River. No entrance fee.

Directions: From I-610 East, take TX 225 east 11 mi. to TX 134 (Battleground Rd.), continue north about 2 mi. and turn right on Park Rd. 1836.

GREATER HOUSTON AREA

SAM HOUSTON PARK

Owner: City of Houston 713/238-2240
Nearest Town: Houston Size: 19 acres

Wetlands: Prairie pothole and marsh- constructed demonstration marsh (0.25 acre)

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, historical buildings

Description: An urban park in downtown Houston. City of Houston Parks & Recreation Dept., Enron, the Environmental Institute of Houston, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation have constructed a freshwater wetland and native plant gardens in the park. No fee.

Directions: Adjacent to downtown Houston across from Texaco Heritage Plaza at 1100 Bagby.

WHITE OAK BAYOU PARK

Owner: City of Houston 713/845-1000
Nearest Town: Houston

Wetlands: Riverine forested- bottomland hardwoods and swamp

Recreation: wildlife viewing, hiking/biking

Description: Just northeast of downtown Houston. Community residents have cleaned and restored a section of swamp along White Oak Bayou. White Oak Bayou Hike and Bike (Harris County) is adjacent and has full facilities. No fee.

Directions: From Memorial Dr. in downtown Houston, exit onto Houston Ave., go north to White Oak Dr., go north on White Oak to park.

PINE BROOK NEIGHBORHOOD PARK

Owner: City of Houston 713/845-1000
Nearest Town: Clear Lake Size: 5 acres

Wetlands: Prairie pothole and marsh- pothole on Beaumont Formation

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, hiking, boardwalk

Description: Site has a three-acre prairie pothole with an elevated boardwalk. The pothole is not buffered by a surrounding undeveloped landscape, so it may not survive long. No entrance fee, facilities on site.

Directions: From Houston, go south on I-45 to Clear Lake. Exit on FM 2351, go east on 2351 (Clear Lake City Blvd.) to intersection with Park Center Dr. and the park.

ARMAND BAYOU NATURE CENTER

Armand Bayou Nature Center. (JACK LEWIS, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

Owner: Harris County Precinct 2 281/474-2551
Nearest Town: Pasadena Size: 2,500 acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal mudflats and restored salt marshes
Coastal flatwoods- hardwoods
Prairie pothole and marsh- wet prairie

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, hiking, pontoon boat rides, environmental education classes

Description: One of the last unchannelized bayous in the Houston area, the preserve protects remnant wetlands and tall grass prairie. Tidal marsh and seagrass restoration programs. Offers a variety of classes and outdoor environmental education school field trips. Class and entrance fees vary. Open 9 -5 on Wed.-Sat., noon-dusk on Sun. Just west of ABNC at 7500 Bay Area Blvd. is Bay Area Park (Harris County 281/326-6539). It also has wetlands along Armand Bayou.

Directions: From Houston, go south on I-45 and exit on Bay Area Blvd. Go east 6 mi. to entrance. Bay Area Park is just west of ABNC.

HIGHWAY 96 NATURE PARK

Owner: City of League City 281/316-3451
Nearest Town: League City Size: 44 acres

Wetlands: Prairie pothole and marsh- potholes and marsh on Beaumont Formation

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, hiking, interpretive trails

Description: Established as mitigation for the construction of Hwy. 96, the site is scheduled to open in spring 2001. A prairie site with natural prairie wetlands. Self-guided prairie trail and boardwalk through wetlands. Good birdwatching for grassland and wetland birds. No entrance fee. Restroom facilities available.

Directions: From Houston, go south on I-45 to League City. Take Calder Rd. exit to Hwy. 96. Go east on 96 about 5.5 mi. to park.

EL FRANCO LEE COUNTY PARK

Owner: Harris County Precinct One 713/485-2729
Nearest Town: Pearland Size: about 100 acres

Wetlands: Prairie pothole and marsh-marsh and shrub wetlands

Recreation: wildlife viewing, nature trail, park facilities

Description: Marsh and shrub wetlands have formed on the downthrown (low) side of a fault caused by land subsidence due to oil and gas extraction from the Clear Lake Oil Field. A nature trail skirts part of the wetlands. No fee.

Directions: From Houston, go south on I-45 to Beltway 8. Go west about 3 mi. on Beltway 8, exit onto Hall Rd. Turn left (south) on Hall Rd., go about 0.25 mi. to entrance.

ADDICKS AND BARKER RESERVOIRS

Owner: Army Corps of Engineers 281/497-0740
Nearest Town: Houston Size: 26,000 acres
http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/items/addicksbarker/addicks%5Fbarker.asp

Wetlands: Prairie pothole and marsh- potholes and old rice fields

Recreation: wildlife viewing, hiking

Description: Both reservoirs are for flood control and normally hold water only in the lowest areas. Local school groups have restored a small fresh marsh in the Barker floodpool. For locations and directions contact the project office. Project office is open 7:30-4:00, Mon.- Fri. Various trails cross different habitats. Areas always open; no fees.

Directions: From Houston, go west on I-10. Take TX 6 south about 1 mi. to project office at 1042 TX 6 South. Another mile south is a parking lot across from Briar Forest Rd. A gravel road (trail) goes into the floodpool and a restored wetland.

Katy Prairie

KPC NELSON FARM-BARN OWL WOODS PRESERVE

Owner: Katy Prairie Conservancy 713/523-6135
Nearest Town: Katy Size: 1,400 acres

Wetlands: Prairie pothole and marsh- potholes (Lissie Formation), rice fields Riparian forested- bottomland hardwood corridor

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, periodic guided tours

Description: Located in Harris and Waller Counties. Part of a larger system of protected prairie preserves. Tract has an assemblage of agricultural wetlands and wetlands in natural depressions, as well as a riparian hardwood corridor on Cypress Creek. An ADA-accessible viewing platform on Sharp Road overlooking a wetland enhancement project is open during daylight hours. The preserve is open to the public on a limited basis through periodically scheduled tours.

Directions: From Houston, take I-10 west to Katy. Exit onto US 90 and continue west to Ave. D. Go north about 2 mi., turn right onto Katy-Hockley Rd. Go north on Katy-Hockley 8.5 mi., then west on Sharp Rd. to preserve. Continue to Waller Co. line and viewing platform

Galveston Bay & Barrier Islands

ANAHUAC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Owner: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 409/267-3337
Nearest Town: Anahuac Size: 34,000 acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal saltmarshes
Prairie pothole and marsh- marshes, potholes, rice fields, managed impoundments

Recreation: wildlife viewing, wetlands auto tour, hiking, fishing, boating, waterfowl hunting

Description: Excellent for wintering waterfowl and migrating songbirds. Twelve miles of gravel roads offer good wildlife viewing on auto tour. Restrooms in three locations, no potable water. East Bay Bayou tract has a 1.5-mile nature trail in riparian woodlands along the bayou, and managed wet prairie at the entrance. Boating on inland waters is permitted only on the boat canal. Two boat ramps open year-round. No fees.

Directions: From I-10 at Anahuac/Hankamer exit, go south 2 mi. on TX 61 to FM 562. Go south on FM 562 for 8.3 mi. to FM 1985, then 4 mi. east to main entrance. Continue east on FM 1985 to East Bay Bayou Tract.

ROLLOVER PASS & BAY

Owners: Texas General Land Office (tidal areas) & Private
Nearest Town: Gilchrist

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal flats and saltmarshes

Recreation: wildlife viewing

Description: The channel is a man-made “fish pass” cut across Bolivar Peninsula to Rollover Bay. On the bay side of the channel an extensive tidal delta has formed. Tidal flats are fringed by saltmarsh along the bayshore. About 0.5 miles west of the Pass on TX 87, Yacht Basin Road, which goes north and ends at the Intracoastal Waterway, crosses tidal marshes.

Directions: From Galveston, take the free ferry to Port Bolivar. Go east on TX 87 about 20 mi. to the Pass.

BOLIVAR FLATS SHOREBIRD SANCTUARY

Owner: Texas General Land Office

Manager: Houston Audubon Society 713/932-1639

Nearest Town: Port Bolivar Size: 550 acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal saltmarsh and flats

Recreation: wildlife viewing, hiking, beach activities

Description: A very important site for migratory shorebirds. Also excellent for gulls, terns, seabirds, wading birds, and sea ducks. These marine flats were created by the deposition of sediment, carried by longshore currents, behind the north jetty that protects the entrance to Galveston Bay (Bolivar Roads). No facilities, no fees.

Directions: From Galveston, take the free ferry to Port Bolivar. Take TX 87 about 3.5 mi. to Loop 108, turn right on Rettilon Rd., turn right onto beach, go about 0.75 mi. to entrance at telephone poles in sand.

BIG REEF NATURE PARK

Owner: Galveston Park Board of Trustees 409/763-6564
Nearest Town: Galveston

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal saltmarsh and mudflats

Recreation: wildlife viewing, hiking, fishing/crabbing, beach activities

Description: The park, at the eastern tip of the island, is a tidal inlet fringed by saltmarsh and mudflats. Very accessible with parking along Boddeker Dr. A boardwalk provides access into the marsh. School groups use area as an outdoor classroom. No facilities, no fee. Apffel Park, at the end of Boddeker (a.k.a. East Beach), has facilities ($5 parking fee).

Directions: In Galveston, take Seawall Blvd. east to dead end at Boddeker. Turn right on Boddeker and go 0.25 mi. to the park.

JOHN M. O’QUINN I-45 ESTUARIAL CORRIDOR

Owner: SCENIC GALVESTON, Inc. 409/744-7431
Nearest Town: Galveston Size: 900 acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal saltmarsh and mudflats

Recreation: wildlife viewing, hiking, fishing, kayaking/canoeing, educational discovery classes

Description: Along both sides of I-45, the tract extends south of Bayou Vista subdivision and TX 146 to the I-45 railroad overpass just north of the causeway to Galveston. Tract is contiguous with 2,200 acres of additional wetlands controlled by The Nature Conservancy of Texas and the Galveston Bay Foundation. Wetlands include both natural and restored saltmarsh. Tidal connection has been restored to an old dredge-spoil compartment. Facilities and picnic area at Reitan Point; adventure trail further south. No fees.

Directions: From Houston, go south on I-45. Exit onto service road south of the Bayou Vista subdivision and TX 146 to parking areas on both sides of I-45.

GALVESTON ISLAND STATE PARK

Spend your day hunting seashells, building sand castles, splashing in the ocean, or hiking the miles of bayside trails and boardwalks.

Source:TPWD

Owner: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. 409/737-1222
Nearest Town: Jamaica Beach Size: 2,013 acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal saltmarshes and mudflats Barrier island interior- marsh in interdunal depressions

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, camping, hiking/biking, fishing, nature study, beach activities

Description: The bay side of the park has extensive tidal saltmarshes and mudflats including a restored 750-acre saltmarsh. Land subsidence and erosion had damaged this marsh. Educational tours of beach and bay ecology by appointment only. Contact park to make arrangements and for fee info. Park has an interpretive center and self-guided nature/interpretive boardwalk in the saltmarsh. Entrance fee.

Directions: From Galveston, turn right off I-45 onto 61st St., go south on 61st to Seawall Blvd., then right (west) on Seawall (FM 3005) 10 mi. to park.

SAN LUIS PASS

Owners: Texas General Land Office (tidal), Galveston County
Nearest Town: Jamaica Beach

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal flats and saltmarsh

Recreation: wildlife viewing, fishing, beach activities

Description: Extensive tidal sand flats on the bay side of San Luis Pass, at the western tip of Galveston Island. Some tidal marsh established in areas protected from erosive wave action. Sand may be soft, so be careful when driving on the flats. No facilities or fees.

Directions: From Galveston, go west on FM 3005 to the west end of the island (about 25 mi.). Exit FM 3005 just before the toll bridge across the Pass.

CHRISTMAS BAY SITE

Owner: Texas General Land Office 281/470-1191
Nearest Town: Freeport Size: 485 acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal saltmarshes and mudflats

Recreation: wildlife viewing, fishing, beach activities

Description: This undeveloped site on Follets Island northeast of Freeport has 1.5 miles of Gulf beach and 15,000 feet of frontage on Drum and Christmas Bays. Tidal saltmarshes and mudflats fringe the Bay. Christmas Bay Scenic View is 3.2 miles west of San Luis Pass. Site has no hours, no facilities, and no fees.

Directions: From Freeport, go south on TX 322 to Surfside Beach. Go east on Bluewater Highway (San Luis Pass Rd.) about 8 mi. No signs at site.

AMOCO WETLANDS TRAIL

Owner: Amoco
Nearest Town: Alvin

Wetlands: Prairie pothole and marsh- marsh in impoundments

Recreation: wildlife viewing, hiking

Description: Amoco has developed a trail to access wetlands in shallow impoundments. Walk the road, which passes through prairie habitat, to the observation platform. Open for day use, no fee or facilities.

Directions: From Lake Jackson, go north on FM 2004 to FM 2917. Go northwest (left) on FM 2917 about 1.1 mi. to trail. From Alvin, take FM 2403 south to FM 2917, then south 6.6 mi. on 2917 to trail.

BRAZOS RIVER & DELTA

BRAZORIA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Roseate spoonbills near Surfside. (STAN WILLIAMS, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

Owner: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 409/849-7771
Nearest Town: CluteSize: 43,905 acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal saltmarsh and mudflats Prairie pothole and marsh- marsh in managed impoundments, potholes

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, hiking, fishing, waterfowl hunting, auto tour, exhibits

Description: Auto tour has 7 miles of gravel roads and 10 interpretive stops dealing with marsh ecology. School groups can get hands-on experience during outdoor classrooms held at the refuge by teachers. Tours for organized groups can be arranged by contacting Angleton office for reservations. Public access limited in summer, contact refuge for info.

Directions: From intersection of TX 35 and FM 523 in Angleton, go 4 mi. south on FM 523 to FM 2004 intersection. Continue on 523 for 5.5 mi. to County Road 227. Turn left and go 1.7 mi. to entrance.

Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area

Owner: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. 409/244-7697
Nearest Town: Jones Creek Size: 10,311 acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal saltmarsh Prairie pothole and marsh- sloughs and seasonal ponds, managed impoundments

Recreation: wildlife viewing, hunting, hiking, nature trail

Description: Excellent area for birdwatching. Nature trail is in oak motte and grassland habitats. No restrooms or potable water. Visitors 17 years old or older must possess one of several access permits (no permit required for nature trail), contact area for details.

Directions: From Freeport, go west 5 mi. on TX 36 to entrance.

SAN BERNARD NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Owner: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 409/964-3639
Nearest Town: Jones Creek Size: 28,094 acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- tidal saltmarsh and mudflats
Prairie pothole and marsh- marshes, managed impoundments

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, saltwater fishing/crabbing, waterfowl hunting, hiking, auto tour

Description: Designated public-use areas open daily during daylight hours. The 3-mile, self-guided auto tour and 3 hiking trails offer excellent wildlife viewing. Restrooms and brochures available at headquarters. Tours can be arranged for organized groups by contacting headquarters.

Directions: From Lake Jackson, go south on FM 2004 to intersection with TX 36. Continue south on FM 2611 for 4 mi. to FM 2918. Go south on FM 2918 1 mi. Turn right onto County Road 306 (gravel) and go 1 mi. to entrance.

BRAZOSPORT NATURE CENTER & PLANETARIUM

Owner: Center for the Arts and Sciences 409/265-3376
Nearest Town: Lake Jackson

Wetlands: Riverine forested- bottomland hardwoods

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, interpretive exhibits and nature trail

Description: Self-guided tour along 0.2-mile nature trail through bottomland forest on Oyster Creek, an ancient, abandoned channel of the Brazos River. Exhibits are used to present hands-on nature programs to local schools.

Directions: From Business 288 in Lake Jackson, go west on College Blvd. to Brazosport Junior College. Go in first (east) entrance, park at the Center.

SEA CENTER TEXAS

Owner: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. 409/292-0100
Nearest Town: Lake Jackson Size: 75 acres

Wetlands: Estuarine- constructed nontidal saltwater marsh Prairie pothole and marsh- constructed freshwater marsh

Recreation/Education: aquaria, interpretive displays, touch pools, videos, marine fish hatchery, interpretive marsh boardwalk

Description: Large marine fish hatchery and Visitor Center. Educational aquaria and displays on marine life and coastal habitats. Two 12-foot touch pools for hands-on learning. Adjacent to VC is a 5-acre marsh with shallow ponds, fresh and saltwater marshes, elevated 600-foot walkway and observation deck with interpretive signage, and interpretive displays. Check with Center for open hours, hatchery tours by appointment only.

Directions: In Lake Jackson, exit TX 332 onto Plantation Dr. Go south on Plantation to the Center at 300 Medical Dr.

BRAZOS RIVER COUNTY PARK

Owner: Brazoria County 409/864-1541
Nearest Town: Angleton Size: 80 acres

Wetlands: Riverine forested- bottomland hardwoods

Recreation: wildlife viewing, hiking, picnicking

Description: County park in the Planter’s Point subdivision. Boardwalk through the bottomland forest along the Brazos River. Full park facilities, no fee.

Directions: From Angleton, go west on TX 35 to TX 521. Go north on 521 about 5 mi. to County Rd. 30. Go west on CR 30 to Planter’s Point, enter subdivision and follow Colony Lane to park.

BRAZOS BEND STATE PARK

Owner: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. 409/553-5101
Nearest Town: Damon Size: 4,897 acres

Wetlands: Riverine forested- bottomland hardwoods. Prairie pothole and marsh- marshes, managed impoundments

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, camping, hiking/biking, fishing, interpretive nature trail, interpretive/educational programs

Description: About 28 miles south of Houston, area has over 3 miles of Brazos River frontage. Offers ongoing interpretive and education programs every weekend (fee). Disabled- accessible nature trail and interpretive exhibit including boardwalk and observation deck in marsh. Habitats and Niches exhibit includes “hands-on” alligator discovery area. Entrance fee, variable camping fees; contact park for details.

Directions: From Richmond, go about 20 mi. southeast on FM 762. From Houston, go south on TX 288 to Rosharon, then west on FM 1462, then north 1.4 mi. on FM 762.

STEPHEN F. AUSTIN SHP

Owner: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. 409/885-3613
Nearest Town: San Felipe Size: 663 acres

Wetlands: Riverine forested- bottomland hardwoods

Recreation/Education: wildlife viewing, hiking, camping, picnicking, fishing, nature tours

Description: This State Historical Park has bottomland forests on the Brazos River in Austin County. Park has a 5-mile hiking trail and a 0.25-mile nature/interpretive trail. Nature tours given Saturday mornings upon request (no fee). Open everyday year-round; entrance fee.

Directions: From Houston, go west on I-10 to FM 1458 (just east of Sealy). Turn right (north) and go 2.1 mi. on 1458, then left on Park Rd. 38.

 

 

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