The East End Lagoon Nature Park and Preserve (EEL) is located on Galveston Island. A project of the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council, the EEL is a unique and valuable area spanning almost 700 acres of diverse habitat on the barrier island's east end.
The vision for the East End Lagoon Nature Park and Preserve is to provide a natural experience for both residents and visitors. By utilizing both the natural beauty and man made improvements it will be possible to explore the intersection of man and nature while focusing on the ever changing environments of a barrier island.
The East End Lagoon Nature Park and Preserve is located on Galveston Island at the east end of Seawall Blvd along Boddecker Dr. adjacent to Apffel Park (East Beach).
Currently, the East End Lagoon Nature Park and Preserve is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike for fishing, crabbing, kayaking, hiking, birding, photography and other activities. Future plans will provide enhanced opportunities for recreation while keeping the site available for everyone.
Activities enjoyed at East End Lagoon include:
- Fishing & Crabbing: The beachfront and the lagoon have long been a favorite of families for fishing and crabbing. Many fish such as flounder, trout and redfish are regularly caught along the beachfront and the lagoon. Blue crabs are plentiful throughout the year. While a state fishing license is required and all state fishing regulations apply, there are no fees for fishing in the area.
- Birding & Bird Watching: The East End Lagoon is a bird watcher's dream. Shorebirds, birds of prey, and hundreds of species of migrating birds can be found at various times of the year. Black skimmers, terns and piping plovers nest along the beachfront at Big Reef while red-winged blackbirds rest along the tall grasses. Egrets and herons fish in the lagoon and birds of prey search for food near the fresh water pot holes.
- Nature Photography: Professional and amateur nature photographers will find no shortage of subjects at the East End Lagoon Nature Park and Preserve. From birds to bugs, flora and fauna, shells and even ships, everywhere you look there is something to catch your lens.
- Hiking: Currently, hiking trails are primitive and are often flooded but can still be enjoyed by adventurous visitors. Development and planning is currently underway for advanced trails.
- Kayaking: Kayaking is a perfect way to experience the lagoon from a different perspective. Bring your own kayak and go it alone or go with a local group such as Artist Boat (www.artistboat.org).
The East End of Galveston Island contains a precious and increasingly rare ecology. The 684 acres are one of Galveston's largest undeveloped spaces, including one of the few remaining sizable tracts of coastal prairie. The site contains both tidal and nontidal wetlands, beach dunes, a freshwater pond, black mangroves and upland prairie, along with an extensive marine coastline.
The site serves as a refuge to a wide range of animals, including a tremendous variety of birds. The wetlands and lagoon support a variety of food sources that attract many species of birds. Raptors hunt in the grassy uplands, which also serve as a breeding ground and place to winter for other birds. Sandpipers and plovers pick along the sandy edges of the lagoon and ship channel, and large flocks of gulls, pelicans, terns and cormorants often cover the sandbars on the beach.
The site serves as a habitat for other animals such as a variety of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.
While the site currently serves as critical habitat for many species, much work still needs to done. Habitats such as coastal prairie, wetland, dunes and the lagoon will be enhanced by removing invasive species and debris, and by adding native plant materials.