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New Boardwalk Underway at Port Aransas Birding Center

The Leonabell Turnbull Birding Center before it was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. The new boardwalk will be 2 feet higher and built of a sturdy, fiberglass-reinforced material rather than wood. Courtesy photo

Work on a new boardwalk is underway at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. The old structure was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. A 700-foot replacement will connect the birding center to the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture. It’s the first new construction to take place in the preserve since the hurricane.

The new boardwalk, which will cost about $670,000, is more than a replacement, according to officials. It will be the first leg of future boardwalks designed to link sections of the preserve for better wildlife viewing.

It is being built of fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene grating rather than wood, which will make it stronger and less likely to be damaged by future storms. Because it is not buoyant, waves will crash through it and not lift it. At 7 feet above the surface, the new boardwalk is 2 feet higher than the previous structure.

Money to build the new boardwalk came from a variety of sources:

• Rebuild Texas Fund, $400,000;

• Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, $200,000;

• Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, $30,000;

• City of Port Aransas, $40,000.

The wheelchair-accessible boardwalk will include a covered observation tower about 13.5 feet above ground.

The new boardwalk is expected to be finished by this summer. The birding center is open but currently has no water access until construction is complete.

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