U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awards contract for ecosystem restoration in Laredo

Published Sept. 29, 2015

FORT WORTH, Texas – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fort Worth District awarded an ecosystem restoration contract for a tract of land along the Rio Grande in Laredo under the Continuing Authorities Program. 

The district awarded a $2.44 million contract Sept. 17 to M.D. Merrett Inc. of Carefree, Arizona, under Section 206, Water Resources Development Act of 1996. The project is a cost-share partnership with the city of Laredo.  

The 77-acre Laredo Riverbend site is in an important migration, foraging and breeding corridor for resident and migratory wildlife species in this semi-arid region. Three are federally listed under the Endangered Species Act: the interior least tern, the ocelot and the Gulf Coast jaguarundi.  

This riparian ecosystem has been significantly degraded over time. Nonnative plants, such as Carrizo cane and tamarisk, spread on the former sand and gravel mining site. It has been impacted by storm-water erosion, and by proliferation of trails and roads created by recreational users, illegal migration and law enforcement.  

The ecosystem restoration plan will improve hydrological connectivity with surrounding water bodies. Permanent nesting habitat for the interior least tern and great egret will be built in the middle of two ponds. Removal of roads and trails will reduce erosion, and improved vegetative structure and diversity will increase foraging habitat for the ocelot and jaguarundi. Plants for the project are already being raised at the Corps’ Lewisville Aquatic Ecosystem Research Facility. This unit of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center will use adaptive management to establish this new plant community. 

“Protecting our environment is important to the city of Laredo,” said Mayor Pete Saenz. “We must lead by example to preserve our resources.  We want to thank the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for this project that will restore such an important part of our Laredo river bank.” 

“This project has been a priority for the city of Laredo for over a decade, but lacked the funding to be able to invest in this area,” said City Manager Jesus Olivares. “With the investment by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, we will be able to improve a scenic part of Laredo’s river bank area to the point that citizens will be able to come and enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty of their environment.” 

The Fort Worth District is pursuing plans to include public access trails at the site.



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/pages/Fort-Worth-District-US-Army-Corps-of-Engineers/188083711219308

Jim Frisinger
817-886-6404 (fax)
819 Taylor St., Room 3A14, Fort Worth, Texas 76102

Release no. 15-051