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Posted on: December 14, 2018

Texarkana recommended for environmental restoration funding

 The City of Texarkana, Texas along with local project partners including Texarkana College, Texas A&M-Texarkana and Liberty-Eylau ISD were recently recommended for a $9.8 million award as a part of the Texas Natural Resource Damages Assessment (NRDA) process related to the former Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation wood-treating facility located on Buchanan Road in Texarkana, Texas.

The Texas Natural Resource Trustees, which include the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas General Land Office, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on behalf of the U.S. Department of the Interior, recently released a Draft Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment (Draft RP/EA) that seeks to restore natural resources damaged to Days, Waggoner, and Howard Creeks and their adjacent wooded habitats.

Texarkana responded to the NRDA Trustees’ request for restoration proposals with its comprehensive watershed approach and proposal, “Days Creek Watershed Comprehensive Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration,” consisting of 22 integrated environmental restoration project components along the creek systems leading through the City including Days Creek, Cowhorn Creek, Waggoner Creek, Howard Creek and Swampoodle Creek. The NRDA Trustees have recommended to fund a subset of 10 of those projects.

The City along with its project partners have requested reconsideration of several of the original restoration projects not originally selected including the creation of wetlands and an outdoor environmental classroom on the former C.K. Bender Elementary School property that is now home to the Salvation Army’s Boys & Girls Club. Additionally, a wetland creation project along Swampoodle Creek near downtown was requested for reconsideration along with the inclusion of additional funds originally requested for planning, monitoring and contingencies for all project components.

The Trustees recovered approximately $21.3 million from legal settlements for natural resource damages associated with releases of hazardous substances at or from the former Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation wood-treating facility in Texarkana, Texas that are directed to natural resource restoration while separate funds will go to the Facility’s clean up. The Draft RP/EA describes how the Trustees propose to use the recovered restoration funds to address natural resources (including associated ecological services) injured, lost, or destroyed due to releases of hazardous substances at or from the Facility.

In March 2016, the Trustees solicited the public for project proposals in northeast and east Texas that would restore, rehabilitate, or conserve forested riparian, bottomland hardwoods, aquatic, and/or wetland habitats. The Draft RP/EA, which was out for public review and comment which closed November 25, 2018, presents the range of alternatives that the Trustees considered and identifies the preferred alternatives the Trustees thought will compensate for natural resources (including associated ecological services) injured by the release of hazardous substances at or from the former Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation wood-treating facility located on Buchanan Road in Texarkana, Texas.

The preferred restoration alternatives are in the northeast and east Texas Ecoregion Region Level III where Texarkana and the Facility are located. The preferred restoration alternatives currently selected by the Trustees include:

• acquisition of tracts associated with Caddo Lake;

• acquisition of tracts along the Neches River;

• acquisition of tracts within the Talbot Prairie;

• restoration and enhancement of bottomland hardwoods within the Mineola Nature Preserve; and

• construction of wetlands; restoration and preservation of forested habitats; and stabilization, restoration, and enhancement of freshwater streams in Texarkana.

The Draft RP/EA is available at:

https://www.cerc.usgs.gov/orda_docs/CaseDetails?ID=1064

The Trustees will now review, consider, and address the public comments received, including those by the City of Texarkana and its project partners, before releasing a Final RP/EA.

“The City’s restoration proposal offers tremendous opportunities for community revitalization, improved quality of life and environmental education,” Shirley Jaster, City Manager said. “We look forward to a positive working relationship for years to come with the NRDA Trustees as we implement the restoration projects locally.”

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