Coastal recreation area edges closer to reality

Nearly three years later, efforts to create a national recreation area covering 146 miles of Texas coast and four counties has reached a milestone. Lone Star Coastal supporters have finished a draft of the legislation they are hoping a member of the Texas congressional delegation will introduce as a bill. Influential Houston businessman John L. Nau has been keeping key members of the delegation, state and local officials briefed on the proposal, which requires congressional approval. All the money for creation of the recreation area is from private donations and money for maintaining the district will be raised locally. The National Parks Conservation Association joined with former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Nau to lead the effort. Besides the 18 government and private organizations owning coastal property that have signed on as partners, four others have joined as affiliates and five as supporting organizations. The association issued a report in January 2012 saying that a national recreation area would preserve wetlands that form a natural buffer to storm surges like the one that pummeled the coast when Hurricane Ike struck in September 2008, causing an estimated $25 million in damage. Chambers County became a partner because the proposal offers more opportunities to market tourist attractions, said Sarah Cerrone, the county’s economic development director.