Wetland Field Day planned for Sheldon Lake State Park

HOUSTON April 2, 2013 – A field day at Sheldon Lake State Park will be held from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., April 11 to highlight various wetland restoration projects there, according to organizers.

The park is a 2,800-acre outdoor education and recreation facility at 14200 Garrett Road in Houston, 15 minutes from downtown.

“The Sheldon Lake Prairie Wetland restoration represents a new and unique approach to restoring critical freshwater wetland systems,” said Marissa Sipocz, wetland program manager with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Sea Grant in Houston. “The techniques used are emerging as the methods of choice for both restoration and wetland mitigation projects required under the Clean Water Act.”

She said the new methods combine modern mapping and geopositioning with traditional restoration methods.

“Original aerial photography taken in the 1930s is overlaid onto modern georectified photomaps to draw the original wetland basin boundaries that existed prior to agricultural conversion and filling of the basins through land leveling,” Sipocz said.

The precise boundaries of the original wetlands can then be identified in the field, and the basin re-excavated to its original topography, Sipocz explained. The wetland depressions, known locally as “prairie potholes” are then planted with plants collected from existing potholes similar to those being restored.

“Because the original wetland soil is re-exposed at the surface, wetland restoration projects following this method have a very high chance of success and are as similar in function and appearance to the original wetland as is physically possible,” she said.

While restoration at the park has been implemented in multiple phases over several years, the latest restoration efforts have been facilitated through a Coastal Prairie Wetland Restoration at Sheldon Lake State Park project managed through the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board.

At the field day, Sipocz said, participants will hear presentations about the ongoing efforts at the park. They will also have the opportunity for a site visit to the individual phases of restored wetlands.

Lunch will be provided, but reservations are required. To make reservations or for more information, contact Sipocz at 281-450-9674 or m-sipocz@tamu.edu.

More information about the project can also be found at the project website, http://www.urban-nature.org/urbanwet/sheldon.htm.

The Coastal Prairie Wetland Restoration at Sheldon Lake State Park project is funded by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board through a Clean Water Act grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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