From: Associated Press
Published June 19, 2007 12:00 AM

Galveston Group Kicks Off Lagoon Project

GALVESTON, Texas -- Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas and the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council are embarking on a project to turn the island's East End lagoon into an environmental education center.


The beach-front grassland, which was targeted for development in the past, is home to numerous bird species and was once a popular weekend attraction for local families to swim and canoe. The U.S. Coast Guard deeded the property to the city as a permanent preserve in 2004, requiring that it remain in its natural condition.


The tourism council has invited a group of charitable foundations, mostly from the Houston area, to a Wednesday event in hopes of spurring interest in the site.


Thomas said she didn't have a cost estimate for the project, but said she expects a master plan to cost at least $350,000. Her goal is to have the nature center and a network of trails with bird-watching stations built by 2010.


"It's an extraordinary spot of public land, of which we don't have a great deal on the island," said Ted Eubanks, owner of a nature tourism company and a member of the tourism council.


"What's most important is to begin to elevate people's vision and ideas of what is possible on the East End," he said.c


The western half of the lagoon belongs to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The eastern half and 686 acres stretching to the easternmost tip of the island belong to the city. Thomas said the nature center building would be located on the site of a former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers station, which already has a paved road and parking area.


She said the city will have to raise funds to make the project happen. She's working with the city to submit grant proposals for state and federal funds.


"I learned to swim in that lagoon," she said. "It was a safe, secure, family-oriented place to go. We played badminton, and I remember having canoes on the lagoon. Many Galvestonians will remember this as a place families went to enjoy the weekend."


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Information from: The Galveston County Daily News, http://www.galvnews.com


Source: Associated Press


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