TEXAS GEMS -WELDER FLATS COASTAL PRESERVE
The preserve, established in 1988, is located in the coastal bend area of Texas, Calhoun County, known as the Gulf Prairies and Marshes Ecological Region. Welder Flats consists of 1,480 acres of Public School Fund submerged land immediately north and west of the junction of the Victoria barge canal with the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The area is also bounded by San Antonio Bay, Shoalwater Bay, and interfaced with privately owned land.
Area of Influence:
4b- Estuarine Zone of Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes (Ecoregions and Sub-regions of Texas).
The estuary system ranges in elevation from sea level to 1.2 meters. Its soil is characterized by calcareous and very poorly drained sandy and loamy mineral soils.
Whooping Crane (Grus americana)
Turnstake Island Rookery
The preserve has high value nursery ground for red drum and spotted sea trout.
The area has a highly productive aquatic vegetation, with moderate to scattered heavy stands of shoalgrass (Halodule wrightii) and widgeongrass (Ruppia maritima) and several species of algae.
Uniqueness of Natural Community:
Archaeological and Cultural Significance:There are no known archeological or culturally significant sites on the preserve, but a detailed survey for such resources has not been conducted.
Seasonal waterfowl hunting and sportfishing.
The preserve is owned by the Texas General Land Office (GLO).
The area is within federally-designated critical habitat for the endangered Whooping Crane.
The preserve is managed by TPWD. The primary responsibility for area management is with the biological staff in the wildlife regional office located in Rockport, about 40 miles south-southwest of the site. Planning and budgeting responsibilities rest with the Wildlife Division as coordinated by the interdivisional coastal preserves committee involving TPWD and GLO.
Existing Monitoring Activities:
The Fisheries Division of TPWD has established eight sampling stations in the area and the shoreline has been used as a stocking location for red drum and spotted sea trout because of its high nursery ground value.
Effective delineation of the area must be accomplished to identify limits of management obligations, consistently control human presence in the area, and minimize infringement on adjacent private land.Research and monitoring is needed to compile necessary information for preparing management recommendations on an area subject to limited past study. Regulatory controls are needed to ensure that human uses are compatible with resources present and that controls are established in a fair manner with public input in a resource basis.
Threats to Ecological Integrity:
Petroleum tanks and extraction facilities on adjacent uplands are a potential threat factor to the ecological integrity of the site.
Management potential is to develop and manage naturally occurring wildlife habitats and populations of indigenous wildlife species through cooperation among public resources agencies, interested organizations, and private individuals. Goals are to protect existing populations of rare/endangered/threatened or migratory species, as well as plant species and related communities.
Source of Information
Strategic Plan for the Welder Flats Coastal Preserve. 1990-1995. By David W. Mabie, Area Manager, TPWD, Rockport, TX