Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
D.H. Texas Investments - Residential Development
Southwest Region, August 28, 2006
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The applicant, D. H. Texas Investments, LLC has proposed to construct a 680 acre residential canal subdivision and marina.  According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit application approximately 53.772 acres of jurisdictional area will be impacted by the proposed project, which is reduced from the 61.62 acres of jurisdictional area that would be impacted by the project as originally proposed.  The project site is located adjacent to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW), approximately 4.5 miles west of Port O’Connor, Calhoun County, Texas. Within 680 acres, the applicant proposes to construct 150 acres of open water (basins and channels) by mechanically excavating approximately 3.5 million cubic yards of material that will be used to raise adjacent areas for use as residential lots.  The shoreline of the created basins and channels would be bulkheaded and would require approximately 40,000 linear feet of vinyl sheet pile.  The channels would be 100 ft wide and would be between 6ft and 7ft deep at MLT.  Two entrance channels would be constructed to connect the proposed basin and channels to the GIWW.  The entrance channels would be 150 ft wide and 7ft deep at MLT.  The applicant proposes to construct numerous boat slips including slips adjacent to residential lots, and within the proposed marina.  The majority of the slips would be covered.  In addition, the applicant plans to construct a boat ramp and two fishing piers.  The applicant also proposes to integrate a park area east of the proposed marina.  The east basin and west basin within the development are connected by four, 6 ft by 6 ft box culverts at the north end of the proposed marina/park area instead of two culverts that were originally proposed.  The subdivision would be entered via a road that would cross Live Oak Bayou and associated wetlands located north of the proposed subdivision.  The project area contains habitat that is occasionally used by whooping cranes.  A Biological Opinion on the proposed action was finalized in August, 2006 by the Corpus Christi Ecological Services Field Office (CCESFO).  Due to the potential of this project to impact occupied and suitable whooping crane habitat and alter current foraging and roosting behaviors, the applicant has proposed the following conservation measures to avoid and/or minimize potential adverse affects to the wintering whooping cranes (1). The applicant has volunteered to make a financial contribution toward whooping crane recovery in the amount of $200,000.  The money would be paid to an entity or escrow agent acceptable to the Service and will be designated for future recovery actions for the whooping crane, as determined by the Service.  While the amount is not tied to a specific potential action or easement purchase, it was calculated based on a reasonable anticipated cost to acquire an appropriate conservation easement on approximately 500 acres of whooping crane habitat at an average per acre cost of easement anticipated to be $250 plus an amount to cover transaction costs, monitoring and placement of a freshwater well with pump to provide a freshwater source for whooping cranes. (2) The applicant will preserve and restrict by third party conservation easement, 113.91 acres of estuarine wetlands adjacent to the development, which includes the area of infrequent whooping crane sightings.  (3) The applicant will install and maintain signage prohibiting human or domestic animal entry into the 113.91 acres of preserved estuarine wetlands and the 22.7 acres of created estuarine wetlands.  (4) The applicant will construct three piers with crane observation areas over the preserved 113.91 acres of estuarine wetland.  Signage will instruct users to remain on piers and to avoid any foot or vehicle access into the wetlands. (5) The applicant will include educational information in deed restrictions and owners association documents regarding the avoidance of human activities which might directly or indirectly affect whooping cranes. Leash laws for dogs will be included. (6). The applicant will have an environmental monitor on-site during project construction.  The monitor will make weekly site visits from October 15-April 15.  (7)  The applicant will ensure that there is an approximately 400-500 foot wide native buffer area maintained between the relocated 40.51acre freshwater wetland and the adjacent houses.  Other areas of the buffer will be mowed periodically to ensure adequate function for drainage, but these areas will not be landscaped and mowing of native vegetation will be limited to approximately 3-4 times per year, and (8) there will be no overhead utilities within 3,000 feet of the GIWW.  Utilities within the housing areas will be buried.  Mitigation for Clean Water Act Section 404 (Section 404) project impacts is proposed to be created within the project area primarily on uplands.  This project proposes to directly impact 53.77 acres of jurisdictional area (with 40.51 acres of non-tidal, freshwater seasonal wetlands, 11.36 acres of estuarine wetlands, 0.6 acre of seagrasses and 1.31 acre of waters of the United States).  The impacts to Section 404 jurisdictional areas are proposed to be mitigated by creating on-site 65.31 acres of wetlands, that will include 16.0 acres of created estuarine wetlands, 7.0 acres of converted wetlands, 40.51 acres of relocated non-tidal wetlands and 1.8 acre of seagrasses, as well as preserving 113.91 acres of estuarine wetlands through a deed restriction.  This project was coordinated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the private landowner, National Marine Fisheries Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Refuges (National Whooping Crane Coordinator), and CCESFO.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov
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