Vela: $150K going to Island shoreline

The General Land Office awarded South Padre Island $4.6 million for beach re-nourishment efforts last month, efforts city of South Padre Island Shoreline Director Kristina Boburka says will help the dunes do their job. Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | dlopez@themonitor.com

South Padre Island will stand alone as the only Texas recipient of a federal grant, a Rio Grande Valley congressman announced Wednesday.

According to Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have awarded $150,000 to South Padre Island as part of the National Coastal Resilience Fund.

“These were the only funds awarded in the state of Texas,” Vela office reported.

Vela’s office said that the funds will support the City of South Padre Island’s Feasibility Study and Design of the Laguna Madre Living Shoreline project.  The project will create a bayside living shoreline using an innovative design approach that will encourage ecological diversity and deliver community protection against environmental stressors. It will also help in the development of intertidal berms to establish pocketed wetlands that aid in the absorption of heavy metals, decreased wave energy, coastal erosion, storm surge buffer and habitat restoration.

“South Padre Island and the Laguna Madre serve as the first line of defense that protects our region from severe weather from the Gulf of Mexico,”  Vela said . “For this reason, it is critical to strengthen the coastal area. Working with federal, state, and local officials over the past eight years, we have focused on resiliency projects, like adding sand to South Padre Island beaches, to reinforce the shoreline. This grant is an important step toward creating the Laguna Madre Living Shoreline that will both protect our communities against the effects of severe weather as well as improve habitats for fish and wildlife. Thanks to NOAA and NFWF for recognizing the importance of the Laguna Madre in safeguarding both the public and the environment in our region.”

South Padre Island’s mayor was grateful for the funding.

“The city is very excited and thankful for this opportunity to start working towards building up South Padre Island’s bayside resiliency for greater protection against wave action and erosion,”  Mayor Patrick McNulty  said . “This project has been listed as a Tier 1 project under the Texas Coastal Resiliency Master Plan, so it is great to have another conceptual project come to fruition.”