USACE Galveston reopens J.J. Mayes Wildlife Trace
Prime bird-watching location opens to the public
WALLISVILLE, Texas - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District, reopened the J.J. Mayes Wildlife Trace at the Wallisville Lake Project Feb. 1, 2012, in Chambers County, Texas.
"Initially closed to the public following damage from Hurricane Ike, the J.J. Mayes Wildlife Trace remained closed due to the replacement of the Interstate 10 bridge over the Trinity River," said Richard Long, USACE Galveston supervisory natural resources manager. "With the completion of IH-10 construction, we are pleased to reopen the wildlife trace once again for the community."
Located south of IH-10 on the west bank of the Trinity River at USACE Galveston's Wallisville Lake Project, the wildlife trace uses a mixture of old and new to create roads, trails, boardwalks and picnic facilities designed to allow for a close-up view of both marsh and habitats located along the river.
According to Long, the wildlife trace is an excellent location to bird watch.
"This past holiday season, 98 different species of birds were counted at the trace by the Houston Audubon Society during the Old River unit of their annual Christmas Bird Count," said Long. "In the winter, the area is home to a large variety of ducks and geese that can be seen in the marshes along the stream."
According to Long, both white and brown pelicans and a large variety of raptors including ospreys also call the trace home, in addition to migrating songbirds which are common along the trails in the spring and fall.
Named after Joshua Jackson Mayes, owner of one of the largest cattle ranches in the county, the wildlife trace originally opened to the public in May 2003.
"The heart of the complex is a four-mile-long auto-nature trail located along the top of a levee," said Long. "It gives observers a bird's-eye view of the marsh area as they drive along at an elevation of about 10-feet above the surrounding marsh."
According to Long, a 2.5-mile trail follows an old road through the riparian habitat along the banks of the Trinity River.
"The middle portion of the trail is paved and is part of a .8-mile handicapped accessible loop trail containing more than 1,000 feet of board walk only a few feet above the marsh," said Long. "Observation decks overlooking the Trinity River and the marsh are also provided. Additionally, a small pavilion and restroom area is located near the Wallisville Navigation Lock at south end of the nature trail."
According to Long, it's not uncommon for visitors to spot an abundance of other wildlife including raccoons, possums, river otters, bobcats and coyotes along the trace. Reptiles including a large variety of snakes, turtles and the American alligator can also be seen.
To visit the J.J. Wildlife Trace from Houston, take IH-10 east and exit 805 via the Trinity turnaround. For more information about the J.J. Mayes Wildlife Trace, please call the Wallisville Lake Project Office at (409) 389-2285.