by Bob Stokes, President, Galveston Bay Foundation
Galveston Bay is one of the largest and most productive estuaries in the United States. Unfortunately, the Bay faces many issues such as loss of coastal habitat, reduction in wildlife populations, and insufficient freshwater inflows.
Protecting the bay and its beaches
The environmental nonprofit, Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF), works to preserve and protect Galveston Bay on the upper Texas coast for generations to come through programs in land conservation, habitat restoration, environmental education and outreach, advocacy and research. In order to increase public awareness about Galveston Bay and combat issues it faces, GBF developed hands-on volunteer events.
Harnessing the power of volunteers
Marsh Mania, its signature community-based restoration event, began in 1999, when GBF set a national record for the number of volunteers involved in a single-day marsh restoration event. Since then, more than 8,000 GBF volunteers have restored nearly 210 acres of marsh habitat in Galveston Bay.
Every year, the nonprofit recruits and engages thousands of volunteers in marsh restoration, marine debris cleanup events, oyster reef restoration, land stewardship workdays, water quality monitoring and more. As volunteers work to harvest and plant marsh grass in Galveston Bay, fill 40-pound bags of oyster shell to help build oyster reefs, or simply help GBF staff around the office with administrative tasks, they are becoming stewards for Galveston Bay.
Responding to Hurricane Harvey in Galveston
GBF volunteers’ passion for stewarding their Bay stood out this past August when Hurricane Harvey swept through the Greater Houston area. Galveston Bay was overloaded with trash in the wake of the intense flooding. While the rain was still pouring down, volunteers reached out to GBF, ready to respond and aid the Bay. The trained members of the GBF Water Quality Monitoring Team were out collecting and analyzing samples when it was safe to do so, and hundreds of volunteers removed more than 7,000 pounds of trash from impacted shorelines at GBF’s post-Harvey cleanups.
Without the help of volunteers, Galveston Bay cannot be a healthy and productive place for generations to come. They are the eyes on the Bay, and the stewards for its livelihood.
GBF stays in frequent communication, providing verbal and written praise and thanks for the tremendous aid. To ensure the volunteers know they are valued, they are honored at GBF’s annual Bravos for the Bay Volunteer Appreciation event.
If you’re interested in volunteering with GBF, visit galvbay.org/volunteer today!