Nueces Estuary Ecosystem Management Initiative

An ecosystem services based plan

The Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program (CBBEP) strongly believes that a significant benefit can be achieved from the development of a long-term ecosystem management plan (Plan) for the Nueces and Corpus Christi Bay area. We believe that a comprehensive plan that identifies habitat protection, enhancement, creation, and conversion opportunities in our area that includes recommendations on the approach to implementing these projects should be developed with stakeholder involvement through a consensus based process.  This is why the CBBEP is developing the Nueces Estuary Ecosystem Management Initiative that will focus on the ability to recognize and explain the most important drivers and threats to the CBBEP region’s ecosystem both on a spatial and temporal scale.

The Plan will identify ecosystem needs based on status and trends and solid science within the CBBEP region, and project out 20 to 60 years based on habitat necessities, productivity, and ecosystem services in order to establish the long term goals of creating a sustainable environment for the area. Ecosystem services are defined as those resources and processes that benefit humans, such as producing food and water, climate and disease control, nutrient cycling, crop pollination, and cultural and recreational benefits.

In terms of the CBBEP’s involvement with this endeavor, the Coastal Bend Bays Plan (CBBP) identifies the goal of creating new habitats, restoring degraded habitats where feasible, and preserving important productive habitat types.  The CBBP also identifies the need to develop a long-term management plan for dredged material management and to meet the environmental enhancement goals.

An analysis and consensus from resource agencies, the scientific community, industry, local government, special interest groups, and others to identify and characterize social and ecological needs (e.g. bird rookeries, reef structures, emergent saltwater marsh, seagrass habitat, riparian habitat, water quality improvements, bay access, etc.) will be used to identify and direct the use of financial resources and other assets associated with development when they become available.  The regional and sub regional recognition of ecosystem service needs will be used as guidance for the development of this Plan that identifies specific large scale projects that can be implemented.  This plan will be available for use by regulatory agencies, development interests, industrial users and citizen interests alike in planning for maintenance, growth and sustainable economic development within the Coastal Bend area.

The plan will serve the purpose of the following:

  • It will be a comprehensive plan that has a unifying habitat creation, restoration preservation goal;
  • It will serve to connect economic development activity in the CBBEP area with ecosystem and habitat creation, restoration and preservation;
  • It will serve to connect relative habitat abundance and habitat status and trends, to decision making, regulation, law, and mitigation policy;
  • The plan will serve the purpose of showing what habitat types are needed in contrast to what habitat is being mitigated by way of evaluating ecosystem services.  Individual restoration projects that are currently being developed lack the justification of how they contribute to the overall goal of providing regional or species specific ecological services;
  • It will serve to provide greater transparency and social and economic justification for the planning process, project selection process and implementation to meet a regional goal.