Salt Island Trail restoration to begin at nature preserve




Remnants of a boardwalk stand near a shade structure in the Salt Island Trail portion of the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture on Thursday, April 4. The boardwalk was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. Funded by FEMA, a $2.3 million project to restore the Salt Island Trail is expected to start this month. Hurricane-damaged boardwalks and trails already have been replaced in other parts of the nature preserve. Staff photo by Dan Parker

Remnants of a boardwalk stand near a shade structure in the Salt Island Trail portion of the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture on Thursday, April 4. The boardwalk was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. Funded by FEMA, a $2.3 million project to restore the Salt Island Trail is expected to start this month. Hurricane-damaged boardwalks and trails already have been replaced in other parts of the nature preserve. Staff photo by Dan Parker

Construction on a $2.3 million project to restore the Salt Island Trail at the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture is expected to start this month.

The trail was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The trail is the city’s last FEMA-funded public access project that needs to be completed at the nature preserve, said Rae Mooney, nature preserve manager. FEMA is funding the construction of the trail.

“It’s going be great because there’ll be so much more public access for people,” Mooney said.

The project has to be finished before November, when whooping crane season starts. A few endangered whooping cranes have migrated to Port Aransas from Canada and wintered here over the past several years.

During a meeting on March 21, the Port Aransas City Council awarded a construction contract to Cleveland-based Shirley and Sons Construction.

The trail will be about a mile long and start near the pavilion on Port Street, where it will connect to the Community Park trail. It will go through tidal flats and loop around on Salt Island, an area of uplands in the middle of the tidal flats.

Construction on a $2.3 million project to restore the Salt Island Trail at the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture is expected to start this month. The trail will be about a mile long and start near the pavilion on Port Street, where it will connect to the Community Park trail. It will go through tidal flats and loop around on Salt Island, an area of uplands in the middle of the tidal flats. Staff illustration by Keith Petrus

Construction on a $2.3 million project to restore the Salt Island Trail at the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture is expected to start this month. The trail will be about a mile long and start near the pavilion on Port Street, where it will connect to the Community Park trail. It will go through tidal flats and loop around on Salt Island, an area of uplands in the middle of the tidal flats. Staff illustration by Keith Petrus

The trail will be made up of concrete where it starts and then transition to decomposed granite and include a boardwalk over some wetlands. The trail also will be ADA accessible.

“This trail allows for you to actually get to be able to see the shorebirds out here,” Mooney said. “Right now, from all the locations that exist, it’s really hard to see the shorebirds. Sometimes there’s thousands of them out there, but you can’t see them.”

She continued: “For the avid birders, they’re excited to get out there to see the shorebirds, but I’ve heard from other people who just are wanting to get out there again where they used to ride their bike or take walks before the hurricane.”

The start of the trail is being slightly rerouted from what it was before due to acres of land at Charlie’s Pasture that were covered by water during Hurricane Harvey. An observation tower that was damaged by the hurricane on Salt Island along with a shade structure will be repaired. Three other shade structures along the way will also be repaired. The project includes fixing some bollards and cable along Port Street that were damaged in the hurricane as well.

Until recently, city officials expected that construction wouldn’t be able to begin on the trail until next year. The trail can’t be built during whooping crane season, and the city was waiting on a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

But the city received the permit about a month ago, so the project is able to move forward this year, Mooney said.

“We’re very excited to provide access out there so people can safely view the wildlife, stay on the trails and be able to take a look at the tidal flats and the greater part of Charlie’s Pasture … that was largely inaccessible,” she said. “So, it’s going to be awesome. I’m excited to get back out there.”

Contact Kathryn Cargo at reporter@portasouthjetty.com.

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