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Cameron Co. Digs into Dune Conservation System

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ISLA BLANCA – A project in Cameron County to conserve the land, environment and construction is underway.

As $17 million renovations to Isla Blanca Park constructing new pavilions and walkways continue, the county is working on what they’re calling a “dune mitigation project.”

“This area is actually getting destroyed because they’re going to build a pavilion right where they’re working,” Jorge Gonzalez, a Texas A&M Kingsville student explained to CHANNEL 5 NEWS. “That’s where the new pavilion is going to be. This is going to be a parking lot.”

Everything is going up 200 feet closer to the land, away from sea.

But what about the sand dunes the county is ripping out to make way for construction? Their sand and vegetation will be recycled, according to Cameron County Parks Director Joe Vega.

He says it’s with last year’s hurricane season in mind.

“Dunes are very important,” Vega explained. “Dunes are what basically protect a lot of the infrastructure that we have in place here on the island. Protects our buildings, protects our roads, protects our utility lines – dunes are important. This is what keeps the island basically intact.”

Gonzalez says Cameron County beaches saw some corrosion in years past.

“We’re trying to reduce environmental impact on the project,” he said as he harvested existing plants from the dune.

He says they will be harvesting specific plants, sea oats and bitter panicum, from the current dunes because of their thick root base. They’ll be planted on a new dune the county plans to construct in the 200-foot gap, between the sea and the new infrastructure.

“As soon as the new dunes are built and shaped we’re going to go in and plant them and monitor the progress,” said Gonzalez.

The work is the second of a three-phase improvement plan to the park. 

The county plans to complete the amphitheater by early August for phase one. For phase two, construction of two new pavilions, boardwalks and additional parking areas is expected to be finalized by spring of next year. And for phase three, the county is looking to make improvements to the RV park and upgrade the infrastructure, as well as build additional sites. 

The project is expected to be completed by this time next year. 

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