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Oil Spill Settlement Adds 405 Acres to Texas Refuge
Date Posted: September 25, 2001Four hundred five acres of bottomland hardwood will soon be added to the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. This addition is the result of a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) settlement agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state of Texas, acting on behalf of the natural resources (trustees), and Phillips Petroleum. Bottomland hardwood forests are found along rivers and streams, generally in broad flood plains, that are periodically or permanently under water. They are deciduous forests made up of different species of gum (Nyssa sp.), oak (Quercus sp.) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), which have the ability to survive in flooded areas. The NRDA was in response to a 1994 oil spill at a Phillips Petroleum tank facility that contaminated water in a diked area and impacted migratory waterfowl. The trustees determined that 24.5 acres of bottomland hardwoods would compensate for impacts to waterfowl. However, Phillips Petroleum decided to donate the entire 405-acre tract. The donation of such a large tract of land, and its permanent protection as part of the national wildlife refuge system, is especially significant because bottomland hardwood forests are rapidly being lost to development.