Texas Legacy Title Image Texas Legacy Title
 skip to content



[please see region's landscape video]

The Coastal Plain covers 13 million acres tracking the Gulf of Mexico, ranging from 20 to 80 miles in width and extending from Beaumont to Brownsville. Soils in the area are mostly clays and clay loams, but also include sands and sandy loams, supporting upland prairies, live oak mottes, bottomland forests, saturated grasslands, vegetated dunes, fresh and salt marshes, tidal flats and barrier islands as one approaches the coast.

The area supports a population of 4.5 million people, and includes some of the most densely populated and industrialized communities in the state, such as Beaumont/Port Arthur, Houston/Galveston, Victoria, Corpus Christi, and Brownsville. Major industries in the area include oil and gas, petrochemicals, health care, ranching and farming.

A number of examples of distinct ecosystems are protected within this area including upland prairie (the Attwater's Prairie Chicken and Brazoria National Wildlife Refuges), live oak mottes (the Houston Audubon Society's High Island Preserve), live oak savannah (the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge), coastal floodplain forests (Brazos Bend State Park and Peach Point Wildlife Management Area), coastal dune grasslands (Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge and State Park and the Padre Island National Seashore), and marshlands (Anahuac, McFaddin and San Bernard National Wildlife Refuges). In a state that is 97% privately held, wide public access to the state's 370 miles of coast under the Open Beaches Act is a key resource.

Environmental challenges for the Texas Coastal Plain region include a variety of issues. Urban sprawl is a significant problem: Houston grew in expanse by 119% from 1970-90, while its land consumption per capita increased by 26%, and the city now spreads over 8800 square miles. Air quality is another threat: Houston leads the nation in violations of ozone standards, and the entire Golden Triangle region (extending from Beaumont to Galveston to Houston) faces a variety of air toxics, chiefly organic chemicals such as benzene, that are emitted by the petrochemical facilities in the area. Climate change is a third concern: 100-year projections envision sea level rises of 15 inches, which could be exacerbated by the very slight slopes (1 foot per mile), extensive subsidence, and tropical storm surge impacts. Concerns have been raised about interruptions to estuarine inflows due to the construction of major upstream dams, 191 of which now exist in the state.

Coastal Plain communities represented in the archive:

Anahuac Russel Clapper
Aransas Pass Felix Cox
Beaumont Bessie Cornelius
Beaumont Alfred Dominic
Beaumont Richard Harrel
Berclair Al Brothers
Bridge City Sue Bailey
Brownsville Merriwood Ferguson
Brownsville Nacho Garza
Channelview Lanell Anderson
Clear Lake City Kamlesh Lulla
Corpus Christi Johnny French
Corpus Christi Ed Harte
Corpus Christi Pat Suter
Corpus Christi Carlos Truan
Flower Bluff Henry Hildebrand
Galveston Marvin Legator
Houston Jim Blackburn
Houston H.C. Clark
Houston Jane Elioseff
Houston Sissy Farenthold
Houston Hana Ginzbarg
Houston J.D. Green
Houston Ann Hamilton
Houston Grover Hankins
Houston Joe Heiser
Houston Stephen Klineberg
Houston Lynn Lowrey
Houston Brandt Mannchen
Houston David Marrack
Houston Bob McFarlane
Houston Terry O'Rourke
Houston Daniel Quinn
Houston Bob Randall
Houston George Smith
Houston Carmine Stahl
Houston Barrie Zimmelman
Kingsville Ben Figueroa
Laguna Vista Deyaun Boudreaux
Lake Jackson Sharron Stewart
Pasadena Steve Smith
Port Aransas Tony Amos
Port Mansfield Walt Kittelberger
Rockport Jesse Grantham
Seadrift Diane Wilson
Smith Point Winnie Burkett
South Padre Island Mary Lou Campbell

For more information, please consult:

Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute

Citizens Environmental Coalition

Coastal Bend Bays Foundation

Environmental Institute of Houston

Galveston Bay Foundation

Gulf Coast Bird Observatory

Valley Land Fund

Welder Wildlife Foundation


Conservation History Association of Texas
Texas Legacy Project

 Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License