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Park staff have installed 140 bollards at Yarborough pass and 81 bollards at various openings in the foredune ridge south of big shell beach.November 4, 2011
Wind-tidal flats comprise one of the largest ecosystems (28,287 acres / 21.7%) within Padre Island National Seashore, second only to the Laguna Madre (30,503 acres / 23.4%). The wind-tidal flats are a unique environment with only a few centimeters of relief over areas that stretch inland as much as a mile. Frequently inundated by wind-driven Laguna Madre waters, some parts of the flats support extensive blue-green algal mats, and are essential habitat for Piping Plovers, Reddish Egrets, Peregrine Falcons, and at least 19 other species of shorebirds, including Western Sandpiper, Dunlin, Killdeer, and Willet.
The Science and Resources Management division (SRM) has launched an effort to assess the impacts of drug and human smuggling within the park, and to prevent illegal access to this delicate ecosystem. Vehicular traffic across these flats causes soil compaction that disrupts the hydrological regime, causing compacted areas to remain submerged and more inland areas to be restricted of wind-driven tidal waters essential for the health of extensive algal mats. Tire tracks seen in 2009 NAIP imagery can also be identified in 1940s U.S. Navy aerial imagery, showing that the effects of vehicle traffic can persist for decades. As recently as the summer of 2011, SRM staff documented over 2 miles of vehicle tracks in a single incident in the wind tidal flats.
In an effort to prevent further damage to this essential resource, SRM staff have installed 140 bollards at Yarborough pass and 81 bollards at various openings in the foredune ridge south of big shell beach. These dune accesses are utilized by drug and human smugglers, as well as for vehicle access to mud flats and grasslands by illegal off-roaders. 27 power line poles were recycled from the beach to facilitate these projects, and 500 pounds of trash were removed during the course of the work. The SRM staff is currently in the process of installing over 6000 feet of cable between the installed bollards. The protection and restoration of these primary wetlands is necessary to preserve the resources that Padre Island National Seashore has to offer for park visitors and for future generations.
Did You Know?
The Laguna Madre is one of only six lagoons in the world that is hypersaline (saltier than the ocean). More...