WALLISVILLE, Texas - Tucked away along the outskirts of the bustling City of Houston lies a 23,000-acre natural retreat also known as the Wallisville Lake Project. Not only does the project provide recreational opportunities for visitors to connect with the outdoors that includes kayaking, bird watching, recreational fishing and picnicking, the project serves a very important watershed function.
Q: What is the Wallisville Lake Project?
A: Located 40 miles east of downtown Houston at the Trinity River and Interstate 10, the Wallisville Lake Project is designed to primarily prevent the intrusion of saltwater up the Trinity River in order to conserve fresh water and to protect fresh water intakes for local municipalities, including the City of Houston. This feat is accomplished through the use of a saltwater barrier, a navigational lock and a control structure used to regulate water during times of low river flows and drought on the Trinity River and prevent the saltwater wedge from moving upstream. In addition to protecting the fresh water supply, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Wallisville Lake Project supports navigation of commercial and recreational boats, serves as a water supply, is a favorite recreational destination among Houstonians and supports an array of fish and wildlife habitats.
Q: What is unique about the Wallisville Lake Project’s environment?
A: Home to the largest remaining intact cypress swamp along the Texas Gulf Coast, the Wallisville Lake Project contains brackish marshes, freshwater marshes, bottomland hardwood swamps and cypress swamps. These protected wetland habitats contain a tremendous variety of wildlife species ranging from deer, bobcat and alligators to dozens of migratory, waterfowl and songbirds. The project also protects and serves as the nursery for the estuary of the Trinity River system.
Q: Which agencies primarily partner with the Corps at the Wallisville Lake Project?
A: The primary partners for the development and operations of the Wallisville Lake Project are the Trinity River Authority, the City of Houston and the Chambers-Liberty Counties Navigation District who benefit from the water management aspects of the project.
In addition to water management partners, the Corps also partners with groups whose primary concerns are the protection of natural resources associated with the project and the education of the public about them. These include, but are not limited to, The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Houston Wilderness and the Waterborne Education Center. While the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory’s primary interest focuses on educating visitors about the birds that inhabit the project, the Houston Wilderness centers on promoting the outdoor opportunities available to Houstonians, and the Waterborne Education Center works to increase awareness about the value of the wetlands, marshes and aquatic habitats in relationship to the coast and the bays in the area. Together, these agencies continue to cultivate stewardship and an appreciation of the natural and historic resources available to Houstonians and visitors alike.
Q: Which recreational opportunities exist at the Wallisville Lake Project?
A: Many recreational opportunities that cater to nature lovers are available to visitors. The J.J. Mayes Wildlife Trace is a driving nature trail located along the west side of the Trinity River begins at I-10 and runs south through the marsh for approximately three miles. Along the trace visitors will find numerous spots to stop and observe the wildlife. With an abundance of hiking trails, including a .8-mile long hiking boardwalk that is wheelchair accessible, the trail has quickly become a favorite destination for birding enthusiasts.
The Trinity River Mouth Waterbird Rookery hosts a boardwalk that enables visitors to walk to the edge of the marsh where numerous waterbirds nest during the spring (wheelchair accessible). Additionally, the Trinity River Island Recreation Area along with the visitor center offers information to visitors about places to fish, its boat launches, observation towers and picnic facilities.
Additionally, fishing opportunities are available year round and waterfowl hunting opportunities are available during the fall and winter months throughout the project.
Q: How can the Wallisville Lake Project further the goals of America’s Great Outdoors initiative?
A: The ultimate goal of America’s Great Outdoor initiative (created in 2010) is to conserve and restore America’s great outdoors and encourage Americans to connect with nature. From paddling, hiking, biking and fishing, the Wallisville Lake Project provides visitors unlimited recreational opportunities, offer awareness-raising educational opportunities and supports environmental partnership initiatives.
Q: Which new sites are opening at the Wallisville Lake Project?
A: The Corps is working with its partners to develop a paddle trail on the eastern side of the project off of FM 563. The paddle trail will pass through part of the largest remaining cypress swamp remaining on the Texas gulf coast. The Corps has surveyed the area and determined the layout of the trail and will begin installing the trail markers in the coming months with the trail expected to be completed by fall. Though the trail is not yet marked, visitors are welcomed to paddle the area.
Remember, when on the water, always where your life jacket, take plenty of drinking water and always provide a float plan to a friend or family member.
For more news and information, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict, or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston. To contact the Wallisville Lake Project Office, please call (409) 389-2285 or visit http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/Locations/WallisvilleLakeProjectOffice.aspx.