If you haven’t visited the East End Lagoon lately, you may want to reconsider. Recently, walking trails and signs have been added to the nearly 700-acre parcel that will enhance your experience there.

The trails form a half-mile loop through the property and are federal American with Disabilities Act accessible. The signs along the trails illustrate the abundant plant and animal life found there and allow walkers to identify them. Funding for the $180,000 project came from a grant through the Texas General Land Office with local matching support from the Park Board and the Galveston Nature Tourism Council.

The Galveston Park Board in cooperation with its partners, the East End Lagoon Advisory Committee and the tourism council, brought these improvements to fruition and plan several more. On tap for the area are improved access to fishing and human-powered boating (like kayaking), overnight camping, and the construction of an open-air pavilion that will serve as an interpretive center.

The pavilion plan is currently in the permitting process, and is in position to receive significant funding. Recently, the Park Board was short-listed to receive a $1.4 million grant for the pavilion from Resources and Ecosystems Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies (RESTORE) Act funds being made available through penalties stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

These developments are all part of a comprehensive business plan for the area. The advisory committee completed the business plan in February. Its focus areas are revenue generation around the improvements and activities at the site. These include charging user fees for camping and other activities. The advisory committee forecasts that implementing the plan will result in full recovery of debt service, operational and maintenance costs within eight years.

The Park Board does receive funding from the city of Galveston to manage the East End Lagoon. From 2015 to 2018, it received $75,000 each year. The advisory committee worked with the tourism council to leverage that funding and through their partnership, they have received several grants from federal and state organizations for improvements.

“I have had the great pleasure to serve as a resource member for the East End Lagoon Advisory Committee for more than four years,” Sheryl Rozier, Park Board project manager, said. “This group of dedicated individuals have helped to make this special place even more so. I look forward to continuing to work with these dedicated volunteers and with the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council to help preserve and protect this island treasure.”

For more information, visit www.eastendlagoon.org.

Park board meetings are typically held at 1:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 601 23rd St.

Mary Beth Bassett is the public relations coordinator for the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Park Board of Trustees.

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