Undeveloped coastal land can serve as a natural buffer for a significant amount of storm surge, reducing flooding and damage further inland. After Hurricane Ike in 2008, Matagorda, Brazoria, Galveston, and Chambers counties united to push for the creation of the Lone Star Coastal National Recreation Area to protect valuable wetlands from over-development.
These Texas communities understand that undeveloped lands along the coast serve as a natural buffer for a large amount of storm surge, reducing flooding and property damage further inland. These lands provide a coastal system protection network and it makes sense to use these natural assets as part of a long-term non-structural flood mitigation system.
The Lone Star Coastal National Recreation Area (NRA) is envisioned as a voluntary partnership among local, state and federal governments as well as non-governmental organizations and private parties. In order to obtain a National Recreation Area, Congress must designate it as such. This requires that the area (1) displays unique natural, cultural, or recreational resources, (2) represents a natural or cultural theme not already adequately represented in the park system, (3) must be of sufficient size and configuration to ensure long-term protection and accommodate public use, and (4) must have potential for efficient administration at a reasonable cost.
The NRA is planned as a non-contiguous cluster of lands, historic sites and structures within Matagorda, Brazoria, Galveston and Chambers counties, encompassing 450,000 acres of tidal marshland and adjacent brackish wetlands and coastal prairie along with 150,000 acres of bay and estuarine areas. The NRA’s management structure and land tenure it is expected to be managed under a custom-built partnership agreement between participating land owners and the National Park Service. The NPS will provide a coordinating presence for visitor services and tourism marketing.
Implementation & Funding
Institutional support for the Lone Star Coastal NRA is provided by a Steering Committee comprised of a group of national, state, and local community leaders. Technical support is provided by the Severe Storm Prediction, Education, and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center. A partner’s coalition has been established to bring together the private institutions involved in providing land resources to the project.
In 2005, the National Park Service generated almost $12 billion in revenues from the near 275 million visitation fees and associated sales in parks and surrounding communities. When completed, this NRA is expected to provide an economic boost to the participating counties. Additionally, the NRA is expected to reduce loss of life and property from tropical storms and the government millions of dollars on disaster relief.