The Bahia Grande is an 11,000-acre complex of dried-up basins that were once an estuary teeming with marine life. Old-timers still remember the shrimp, waterfowl, and other life that once made it a sportsman’s paradise and an important habitat for ﬁsh and wildlife. In the 1930’s, the Port of Brownsville dredged a ship channel, cutting off the tidal system’s water supply with large spoil banks. The Bahia Grande became arid, dry, and barren, and its drifting and blowing sands the source of numerous health and industrial problems.
The USDI Fish and Widllife Service (FWS) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) purchased the property to add to the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. In 2000, Ocean Trust, a national non-proﬁt conservation and research organization, and the FWS began working with the NOAA Community-based Restoration Program, preparing to cut channels to re-ﬂood the estuary, the ﬁrst step toward returning it to its natural state and relieving Brownsville of its blowing dust. Once channels are completed, the complex will be ready for the re-introduction of tidal water from San Martine Lake and the Ship Channel. Channel construction will begin in 2005.