By the 1990’s, it was apparent that the Park had been invaded by Chinese tallows. To prevent these fast-growers from dominating the coastal prairie, FoGISP volunteers began control measures. When simply cutting down the invaders proved unsuccessful, we turned to poison, which effectively eradicated the tallows.
Controlled burns have also been used in the Park to eliminate woody species and dead grasses. However, an early burn became something of a public-relations disaster when rodents escaping the flames invaded the Jamaica Beach subdivision. In recent years, burns have resumed, becoming an integral part of the Park’s natural resource management plan.
Also in the 1990’s it was determined that the bay-side of the Park had been losing as much as 10 feet of shoreline per year. As outlying marshes disappeared, the once plentiful sea grasses also disappeared and, along with them, the cover that had created an excellent hatchery for a broad range of marine animals. As a result, Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) and partners began restoration efforts. They built up a rectangular array of terraces in Carancahua Cove using locally-dredged material. After a breakwater made of geotubes was created to protect the area, volunteers planted marsh grasses on the tops of terraces (Note: These Geotubes were sediment-filled tubes of geotextile fabric with a cross-section of approximately 12-feet.)
Initially, it seemed that the terracing had been successful; indeed, photographs taken in 2007 show healthy growth. However, while this technique had worked in other areas, those terraces had been built from material that was mostly clay; here the material was mostly sand and silt. As a result, the terraces in Carancahua Cove slowly eroded away. Eventually the geotubes also disappeared below water after losing their contents.
In 2010, TPWD and partners began to rework the earlier terracing in Carancahua Cove, restoring 200 acres of inter-tidal marsh. To create a more natural appearance, some of the terraced areas were filled in to create mounds; a long breakwater was created from dredged material.
In November 2010, hundreds of volunteers planted marsh grasses on the breakwater and mounds. By 2011, it seemed that these grasses were again becoming established.
In 2013, the Park received a $2.5M grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). Building on the efforts of 2010, this grant will create 30 acres of marsh that are protected by rock breakwaters.