Texas Coast Report Cards

Assessing ecosystem health to support conservation efforts

Take a quick look at the Texas Coast's Health

Texas Coast
Matagorda Bay
San Antonio Bay
Coastal Bend
Lower Laguna Madre

About this Report Card

This Report Card uses local, state, and national datasets alongside stakeholder input to evaluate how current conditions compare to long-term trends. This is meant to give a high-level summary of the health of bay ecosystems to inform management decisions for the Texas coast.

A healthy score represents a well-balanced system that supports current uses. A vulnerable score indicates that negative effects of human and natural pressures are being observed. An unhealthy score means that measured values are outside the range of what is expected in a balanced, healthy system.

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About the Texas Coast

The Texas coast is home to estuaries that support fish, birds, and other wildlife, and are vital to local and state economies. From the marshes of Sabine Lake to the seagrass beds of the Lower Laguna Madre, the estuaries contain an incredible array of productive habitats that are shaped by the freshwater, nutrients, and sediments entering from streams and rivers that flow through 200,000 square miles of Texas lands.

Texas’ coastal fisheries and the economies they support are remarkably healthy despite pronounced human population growth and natural stressors. However, some parts of the Texas coast are displaying symptoms of deteriorating water quality, loss of critical habitat, and population declines of iconic wildlife species due to these stressors.

Diverse Watersheds - Diverse Stressors

Texas is an economic powerhouse, and as a result it is experiencing rapid population growth in its major metropolitan population centers and suburbs. But Texas still has a lot of rural areas where ranching and agriculture are prevalent. These land use characteristics all influence the health of downstream coastal ecosystems through their imprint on freshwater quantity and quality. Click on the map at the right to learn more about the watershed of your favorite bay and how watershed changes may be affecting the health of the bay.

The Texas Coast covers 367 miles of Gulf-facing shoreline. Its watershed covers over 200,000 square miles, reaching far into the interior of Texas. What was once a rural, unimpacted watershed is now becoming rapidly urbanized due to incredible rates of population growth.

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This Report Card was developed in partnership with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Integration and Application Network, as well as many other stakeholders and organizations. This report was made possible in part through a grant from the Texas General Land Office (GLO) providing Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 funding to the State of Texas and awarded under the Texas Coastal Management Program. The views contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the views of the GLO or the State of Texas. Special thanks to Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program, Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, The University of Texas Marine Science Institute, Lower Laguna Madre Estuary Partnership, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Earth, Environmental & Marine Sciences, Matagorda Bay Foundation, and San Antonio Bay Partnership.

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