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EDDIE V. GRAY WETLANDS CENTER

EDDIE V. GRAY WETLANDS CENTER. The Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Center, owned by the city of Baytown, is located on the banks of Goose Creek in Baytown, encompasses six square miles and includes a 14,000 square-foot facility. Local businessman Eddie V. Gray first introduced the wetlands concept to fellow members of the Goose Creek Stream Greenbelt Development Committee in 1992. With the help of a $350,000 matching grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, development of the center began. Lee College and the Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District (GCCISD) also entered into agreements to help support and utilize the facility. Land was purchased at 1724 Market Street, where an abandoned bowling alley was stripped down to its steel beams and reconstructed to create a 9,000 square foot exhibit hall. The center opened its doors on January 26, 1998, and continues to make improvements. Part of Goose Creek was recently dredged for recreational use, allowing small boats to pass easily to Tabbs Bay. The dredging created additional wetlands area for many species. An official site on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, the center continues to expand its trail system.

The chief goal of the center is to increase community appreciation, awareness, and understanding of wetlands, their environment, and cultural history through education and recreation. Many of the local petrochemical companies and private businesses sponsor exhibits such as the Wetlands Ecology Learning Trail, Gator World, Butterfly Encounter, and Land of Milk and Honey. In addition to exhibits, the center provides opportunities for hands-on learning with a science lab, computer lab, meeting room, and several aquariums. Self-guided tours are open to the public, and when time allows, staff or volunteers provide tours. Throughout the school year, GCCISD students participate in field trips and such programs as "Wetlands Ecology," "Making Science Make Sense," and "Liquid Science." They learn to identify fish, birds, and plants that make their home in the wetlands. During the summer, the center offers a weeklong science camp. Lee College often uses the meeting rooms for nature-oriented continuing education courses, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department conducts its annual hunter and boater safety classes at the facility. State agencies, corporate sponsors, and community members make annual contributions to help with the maintenance, development, and installation of new exhibits and ongoing projects. The success of the Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Center also relies heavily on the support of volunteers.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Center (http://tourismprod.baytown.org/Wetlands+Center/Wetlands+Home.htm), accessed January 24, 2007. Baytown Sun, January 19, 1998. Marsh Matters, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Winter 2006/2007) Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Center, Baytown.

Britney Jeffrey

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Britney Jeffrey, "EDDIE V. GRAY WETLANDS CENTER," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/gke04), accessed September 01, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.