The Wolf River Restoration Project

In 2004, construction began on a $12.5 million Wolf River Restoration Project, a result of a partnership between the Wolf River Conservancy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The goal of the project was to control and prevent the erosion of the Wolf River channel through a process called "headcutting." This destructive process was one consequence of channelizing - straightening and deepening - the river during the 1960's.

 

About 22 miles of the river was channelized, from its mouth at the Mississippi River to Gray's Creek in Germantown near Houston Levee Rd., to allow for increased development and flood control. Such straightening and deepening of the river channel increased the velocity of the water moving through it and created essentially a "waterfall" where the unchannelized upper river met the lower channel of the altered river, causing continuous headcutting erosion of the banks and channels farther and farther upstream. It had already passed Houston Levee Rd. and was a very real threat to the 70 miles of river upstream, draining it surrounding wetlands, floodplain forests and aquifer recharge areas, while also undermining the support piers of all the highway bridges that cross the Wolf River.

 

When funding for this critical project was cut to zero in 2005 during a round of federal budget cuts, Wolf River Conservancy members overwhelmed their senators and congressmen with letters, emails, and phone calls demanding that funding be restored so that the project could be completed. Soon, we were asked to "call off the dogs!" We did, and the project's 12.5 million in funding was restored by Congress and never threatened again. The Wolf River Restoration Project was largely completed in 2009.