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  NATURE CONSERVANCY
 
Freeport LNG chose several sites to carry out mitigation of wetland impacts caused by the project. In planning the mitigation we took into consideration comments and guidance provided by the public, stakeholders and federal, state and local resource agencies. Freeport LNG developed goals and objectives for mitigating impacts to wetlands in consultation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and local conservation groups.
     
 
Freeport LNG’s primary objectives in designing these wetlands were to locate sites that would provide an opportunity to mitigate on-site or off-site on Quintana or Surfside, and to mitigate in-kind for losses of specific wetland types. By selecting sites that met these objectives, Freeport LNG provided for the greatest opportunity to enhance the overall wetland functions of the project.

Freeport LNG investigated several alternatives for mitigation of the wetlands disturbed or filled during construction of the terminal facilities and pipeline. Wetland mitigation opportunities were evaluated based on the potential to provide equal or greater wetland habitat function at the project site and using the following order of priority: (1) on-site, (2) off-site but on Quintana Island and (3) off-Quintana Island but within the same watershed.

The wetland mitigation areas discussed below are the result of implementing these objectives. In every case, these areas represent increases in the quality and quantity associated with wetland functions for each type of wetland impacted. Freeport LNG has created, enhanced and preserved over 110 acres of coastal wetland habitat in its mitigation efforts. Overall, Freeport LNG’s mitigation activities have positively impacted the wetland resources in the area.
 

 

 

County Road 723 Wetland

 
To control the runoff of sediments from the construction site, a 14-acre stormwater pond was constructed along CR 723 on the southern boundary of Freeport LNG’s terminal site. Prior to construction, a portion of the pond area was wetlands and a portion was composed of dredged materials, clays and sand. Soils were excavated from the area to achieve a uniform elevation of two feet above mean sea level. Stormwater from the terminal site passes through this pond before it is discharged through a drainage ditch into the Intracoastal Waterway. Wetland plants have been encouraged to grow in the entire pond, and the resulting wetland is much larger than the wetland that existed previously. The palustrine wetland created by Freeport LNG maintains the characteristic plant community composition of the area and provides wildlife habitat and plant biomass production.
 
 

Intracoastal Waterway Wetland

 
In March 2009 Freeport LNG achieved a milestone in its on-site wetland creation project. In the three years since the construction and planting of a 10.2 acre wetland along the Intracoastal Waterway, the Spartina alterniflora grasses that were planted as part of the project have grown to fill in 77 percent of the wetland area. This was confirmed through studies by a third-party environmental consultant who monitored the wetland creation over the three-year development period. To seed the area, individual stalks of S. alterniflora were transplanted on 3-foot centers into the prepared site. Survival and aerial coverage of the transplanted Spartina were checked after six months, and annual surveys thereafter monitored the coverage of plants within the site boundaries. The initial survey (at six months) exhibited coverage of 19 percent and the annual coverage figures were 29, 55, and 77 percent during the three annual surveys, respectively.
 
2005 2010
 

The wetland serves a number of different and important functions, one of which is shoreline stabilization of the embankment along the Intracoastal Waterway. Prior to the wetland creation this embankment was highly eroded and the rate of erosion was observed to be increasing. The importance of achieving the coverage goals was that by the end of the first year, no additional erosion occurred to the embankment adjacent to the created wetland. Other functions the wetland creation has achieved include: plant biomass production, development of wildlife habitat and invertebrate prey pools, utilization of forage and nursery areas for fish and shellfish, nutrient and organic carbon exchange, and sediment deposition. These achieved goals can be observed in the increasing number of fish, shellfish, birds and mammals that can be seen utilizing this new habitat. The wetland even survived Hurricane Ike with no damage or loss of function.

 

 

 

Surfside Enhancements

 
The Surfside mitigation site provides several critical wetland functions. Until the purchase by Freeport LNG, this property was under demonstrable threat of development. Preservation and enhancement of the site under a conservation easement set up by Freeport LNG has ensured that these valuable wetland resources are protected.
 
 
Off-site wetland mitigation in Surfside consisting of restoration, creation, enhancement and preservation of estuarine and palustrine and intertidal wetland areas will provide shoreline stabilization, sediment deposition, nutrient and organic carbon exchange, resident and non-resident nekton utilization, maintenance of invertebrate prey pool, wildlife habitat, plant biomass production and maintenance of characteristic plant community composition.
 

 

 

Fishery Enhancement

 
Spartina alterniflora marshes and other wetland areas produce an abundance of detritus (plant materials in the process of decomposing) that go to feed micro- and macroinvertebrates, larval crustaceans, larval sportfish, prey species and other components of a healthy fishery. Through the creation of over 10 acres of S. alterniflora marsh along the bank of the Intracoastal Waterway, Freeport LNG is adding a key element in the enhancement of fishery resources in the area. Due to its proximity to the Freeport Harbor Channel, this marsh area serves as host for both estuarine and near shore Gulf fish species and a host of invertebrate species. The rock structure (gabions) constructed to hold the soil in place until the Spartina was established also act as substrate for other types of fish and shellfish that prefer rocky substrates such as the stone crab.
 

 

 

Bank Stabilization and Erosion Control

 
Early in project development, it was observed that the bank along the Intracoastal Waterway was eroding at an increased rate from boat and barge traffic as well as wind and tidal-driven currents. A major benefit from developing a marsh made of Spartina alterniflora along the bank adjacent to the Freeport LNG facilities is that this type of marsh helps attenuate wave action on the shore face and builds up soils over time. The marsh that Freeport LNG designed and built serves to control the erosive forces acting on the shoreline of the Intracoastal Waterway and will keep waves from further eroding the bank.
   
  Beach Clean Up
 
Twice each year (spring and fall) the State of Texas sets aside a day to clean the Quintana Island beachfront of trash and debris that has collected over time. Since very early in the project, Freeport LNG has sponsored this biannual event and Freeport LNG’s contractors and employees have participated in cleaning the beaches.
  Dune Restoration
 
Although recent hurricanes did not hit southern Brazoria County directly, tidal surge and wind-driven tides took out a significant portion of the dunes along the Surfside beach. As part of our mitigation work, Freeport LNG dug out an existing pond at Surfside to plant Ruppia maritima. The material excavated from the pond was composed of good beach quality sand. Rather than hauling it to an off-site disposal area, Freeport LNG used this material to restore the dunes along our mitigation area and along the Surfside beach. After the sea breeze did a nice sculpturing job, beach morninglory and a few other adventurous plants have populated the dunes and better stabilized them.