Artist Boat’s mission is to promote awareness and preservation of coastal margins through the disciplines of the sciences and the arts. The formation of the Coastal Heritage Preserve initiative begun in 2008, and now is successfully halfway towards the full 1,400-acre conservation vision. Artist Boat acquired 9 tracts of land through public and private grants and gifts, with capitalized asset value of $11.5 million and encompassing 690 acres of land on West Galveston Island. This Coastal Heritage Preserve is a contiguous ecosystem found only on barrier islands, and represents a “last place of natural significance on Galveston Island,” with unmatched biodiversity. The critical habitats here host a wide range of birds (grassland, waterfowl, birds of prey, shorebirds, neotropical migrants, and wading); estuarine-dependent fish, shrimps, and crabs; plus other significant and diverse species.
For this initiative, they are working with two willing sellers – the developers of the proposed Galveston Preserve at West Beach (Marquette) and those for the proposed Anchor Bay development. Hurricane Ike, the economic downturn, the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill, and time have provided Artist Boat with the unique opportunity to work with these developers to conserve the contiguous suite of ecosystems from bay to beach.
Project Description & History
Artist Boat is presently addressing conservation of available land in the proposed Anchor Bay development of 284 bayside acres adjacent to Melager Cove and Oxen Bayou. In 2018, Artist Boat closed on 64 acres of this Anchor Bay land, in partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, through a grant from US Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program (NCWCG Program). This year, Artist Boat has been awarded a second grant of $1,000,000 through the NCWCG Program, again in partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. This second grant will require $336,000 in cash match, plus $20,000 in related expenses, to acquire and protect another 75 acres of Anchor Bay land in 2020 (see V. Description of Proposed Program). This would bring the Preserve to 765 acres, with 143 acres of the 284 acres of Anchor Bay land saved, leaving 141 acres yet to save there.
Saving the remaining land that is owned by the Preserve at West Bay (Marquette) also continues to be an ongoing focus. Marquette is the developer-owner behind the original 1,000+ acres of the proposed Preserve at West Beach development. To date, Artist Boat has acquired 569 acres of this land, with 353 acres through grant purchases and 216 acres from land donations by Marquette. The Marquette remainder to be saved encompasses 429 acres in tracts located between FM 3005 and the beach.
Since the inception of Artist Boat, over 100,000 participants have helped bring 40,000 students to estuaries by kayak, foot, or vessel; created over 50+ public art works for campuses and communities; conserved over 600+ acres on west Galveston Island forming the Coastal Heritage Preserve and creating a place for the future Gulf Coast Environmental Education Center; restored over 50 acres of dunes and prairies to assure recovery of these ecosystems following Hurricane Ike; formed the Bucket Brigade comprised of a Marine Debris Task Force, interpretive tours, beautified buckets for trash, recycle centers, and more on Galveston beaches; and provided a 1,000+ teachers with professional development and place-based curriculum for the classroom.