Management approaches to residential development of dunes and freshwater wetlands on Galveston Island




Hughes, James
Pio, Alessandro
Robbins, Frank

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University of Texas, Department of Community and Regional Planning.


The purpose of this report is to consider the issue of residential development in two environmentally sensitive areas on Galveston Island (as on all barrier islands): the dune system and the interior freshwater wetlands. While it is generally agreed that these areas are very delicate and easily affected, legal, economic and political considerations often make it impossible to follow a policy of strict preservation, and alternative management approaches must be considered. The first two sections of the report provide a brief introduction to the two ecosystems. Section I describes the natural dynamics, while Section II addresses the impacts of residential activity and the fundamental characteristics which must be safeguarded. Section III deals with alternative management approaches. National hazards such as hurricanes and flooding are considered since they will also affect the two critical areas. In terms of management, three approaches are reviewed: a) prohibiting or severely restricting development, b) approaching land development on a fairly large scale, with provisions for clustering of residential construction, restoration, transfer of development rights, etc., and c) implementing environmental performance standards to be enforced at the level of the single lot or improvement. Based on the example of Sanibel Island, Florida, possible "model performance standards" are suggested, and examples of end products compatible with these standards are presented. The report concludes with some recommendations relevant for the implementation of the suggested approaches.


58 pages


environment management, coastal zone, coastal zone management, dunes, wetlands, resource development, legal aspects, environmental impact