Copano Bay Oyster Reef Restoration

This project will evaluate areas for shoreline protection and restoration alternatives in Aransas Bay, TX. The specific area of investigation includes approximately 150 acres. Quantifiable data on oyster characteristics (density, size frequency distribution) will be provided.

The first task provides for field collection of oysters and surficial sediments to determine natural resource characteristics within the selected 150 acres in Aransas Bay, TX. The Pollack Lab will conduct field sampling in early-mid 2022. Sampling will be conducted using diver-quadrats from a boat within the 150 acre area selected by HDR. Regularly spaced quadrat samples will be collected at a distance of 100 m spacing between samples, resulting in 60 regularly-spaced samples. Up to 20 additional quadrat samples will be collected in areas that require fine scale investigation (e.g. high densities of live oysters encountered). The locations of these additional samples will be determined in consultation with HDR. At each sample location, divers will place a 0.25-0.5 m2 quadrat on the bay bottom, depending on oyster densities, and collect all surficial bottom material within, including live oysters. Samples will be placed into bags or baskets brought to the surface where they will be quantified for live oyster density and size frequency distribution of live oysters. All material will be quantified in the field and then returned to the bay bottom.

The second task will provide for data analysis and documentation of results from field collections in Aransas Bay, TX. Analysis and Documentation Data on oyster density and size will be analyzed and presented using text, graphics, and tabular summaries, as well as within a Geographic Information System (GIS) to illustrate spatial trends in live oyster abundance and size within the study area. Results will be included in draft and final report sections that will document the data collection process, methods of analysis, and interpretation.

The third task will provide for consultation and document review for the alternatives analysis. The Pollack Lab will present and discuss alternatives with respect to results from the natural resources investigation. This will include review and evaluation of available plans, reports, and data products as necessary. Relevant documents and data products could include: bathymetric surveys, geotechnical investigations, side scan sonar data, digital GIS/CADD data, draft and final reports, among others. The Pollack Lab will provide feedback on the potential benefits and challenges of the preliminary alternatives under consideration with respect to existing natural resources. Finally, the fourth task will provide for participation in the stakeholder/community involvement process. The Pollack Lab will meet with HDR and other involved stakeholders as needed to provide input on study findings and alternatives development, help resolve potential issues, etc. Participation may include technical presentations, informal discussions, and/or formal question and answer sessions.