National Fish Passage Program
The state of Texas has over 7500 waterway barriers that may block the natural migration of fish to historic habitat used for reproduction and growth. To restore fish habitat, the Texas FWCO participates in the National Fish Passage Program (NFPP), which is a voluntary, non-regulatory effort.
Texas Barrier Inventory Project
Beginning in 2011, the TXFWCO is conducting an assessment of dams in Texas to identify and determine which of the structures are true barriers to fish passage, what fish species are affected, and how much fish habitat is being restricted. The results will rank the barriers in order of their impact on the fishery, High-impact barriers will be targeted for future restoration projects.
The TXFWCO has partnered with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) on this project to develop a smart phone application to help populate a web-based map and database of fish passage barriers in Texas. Using a smart phone, a user can take pictures of a fish barrier, enter available data, and send it to the database with GPS coordinates and a description. This will allow the database to continue to be populated in the future.
Uvalde County Road 416
This low level water crossing is constructed with gravel and metal culverts. During high water events, the gravel and metal culverts are washed downstream destroying the crossing. During low water periods, the water flows through the gravel crossing instead of through the culverts, creating a fish passage issue. In 2010, Uvalde County signed a cooperative agreement with USFWS to rebuild the crossing. In 2011, Uvalde County contracted TRC Engineering in Austin, TX, to design the new road crossing. Partners in this project include Uvalde County, TPWD, and the Nueces River Authority. The project is due to begin in spring 2012.
Charles Evans Low Water Crossing
After a portion of the Llano River that crosses Mr. Evans property washed out the existing river crossing, Mr. Evans obtained a five year permit to construct a temporary sand and gravel crossing. With the permit expiring Mr. Evans is looking to rebuild a more permanent river crossing with the help of TXFWCO and TPWD. Mr. Evans is eager to start the project and will construct the crossing himself, using his own equipment and natural limestone slabs. Brian Waz, a fish passage engineer from Region 5, is designing the fish friendly low water crossing. The barrier is scheduled for replacement in 2012.
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge Culvert Replacement
TXFWCO has been working with staff at Aransas NWR to complete three NFPP projects on Matagorda Island: Bray Cove Pass, South Bend Cut, and the Outer Rim culvert. In addition, there will be repairs made to nine other culvers on Matagorda Island. Construction is due to begin in April 2012, after the endangered whooping cranes migrate in the spring.
Ottine Dam Removal Project
The TXFWCO is working on a barrier removal project on the San Marcos River at Ottine Dam. The dam was built about 100 years ago in the town of Ottine. It was once used to produce power for the mill as well as to provide power to the town. It has long since been abandoned for this use and is now failing. Water has undermined the foundation of the dam and it has shifted, creating swift currents through the opening and forming a barrier to fish passage. The owner of the dam is concerned about the liability the dam now poses and has sought assistance in its removal. Partners on this project are TPWD, the Texas Rivers Protection Association, the San Marcos River Foundation, and the Texas Water Safari. Engineering for this project is currently being done by Brian Waz, a fish passage engineer from Region 5. The project will begin in 2012.
San Esteban Dam Removal
San Esteban Lake, a privately owned reservoir built for irrigation, is on Alamito Creek twelve miles south of Marfa in northeastern Presidio County. It was built at the sight of a historic spring-fed tinaja that supplied water to early Indians, Spanish explorers, and merchants who traveled the ancient Chihuahua Trail. Construction of the dam began in 1910. The original operating level of the lake was 4,451 feet above mean sea level, with a capacity of 18,770 acre-feet and an area of 762 acres. Due to siltation and a diminishing water table, the lake was limited to recreational use only in July 1969. Instead of a spillway there are three gate valves, each located sixteen inches under the dam deck. These valves are no longer functional. This project dovetails with the Alamito Creek Preserve DFHP project to restore a more natural flow regime to the watershed, which eventually contributes to the Rio Grande. Partners on this project include: TPWD, PFWP, TPWLT, and the landowner.