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Posted 8/2/2016

Release no. NR16-051


Contact
Jim Frisinger
817-901-9644
james.c.frisinger@usace.army.mil
819 Taylor St., Fort Worth, TX

LAREDO, TexasThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fort Worth District and city of Laredo broke ground today on an ecosystem restoration project along the Rio Grande, which will create habitat for several animals listed on the Federal Endangered Species List. 

“We are deploying our great engineering force of highly disciplined people to help Laredo recover this valuable riverside resource they had lost,” said Lt. Col. Clay Morgan, deputy commander of the Fort Worth District. “Our time-tested partnership will deliver innovative green solutions to the environmental challenges here to create a community showpiece for the city.” 

The 77-acre Laredo Riverbend site is in an important migration, foraging and breeding corridor for resident and migratory wildlife in this semi-arid region where water is scarce. Nonnative plants have spread onto this former sand and gravel mining site, which has also been degraded by storm-water erosion and the proliferation of trails and roads created by recreational users, illegal migration and law enforcement.  

Revegetation and improved hydrologic connectivity with ponds on the site will return the habitat to a natural state attractive to the endangered ocelot, Gulf Coast jaguarundi and interior least tern. Plants for the project are being raised at the Corps’ Lewisville Aquatic Ecosystem Research Facility, a unit of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center. Their staff will establish this new plant community; the contractor will build three protected nesting boxes in the middle of two ponds for the least tern and great egret. 

“The city of Laredo has been determined to rehabilitate this area,” said City Manager Jesus Olivares. “This project has been on our legislative list of requests for the past 17 years. Thanks to the passion and unwavering focus of our Environmental Services Department to continue to push this project to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and of course, to our Congressman Henry Cuellar who helped to make this funding a reality, the city of Laredo will help to bring back a key section of our environment.” 

The $4 million project is a cost-shared with the city under Section 206 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996, and delivered through the district’s Continuing Authorities Program. Soft-surface trails and educational signage that will explain the restored riparian wildlife habitat will encourage public access to the site, which is adjacent to Laredo Community College.

 

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About the Continuing Authorities Program (CAP): The program is a useful tool to support community projects, on a cost-shared basis, that focus on storm damage reduction and ecosystem restoration. CAP promotes comprehensive collaborative planning through multipurpose projects that can also support such functions as recreation, water supply and education. Additional CAP information is here: www.swf.usace.army.mil/Home/ContinuingAuthoritiesProgram.aspx

About the Fort Worth District: Visit the Fort Worth District Web site at: www.swf.usace.army.mil and Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/usacefortworth/

City of Laredo wildlife habitat