The Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is located west of Freeport near Jones Creek in Brazoria County. The Area has 10,311 acres which were purchased using waterfowl stamp funds from 1985 to 1987. In 1988, an additional 1,627 acres were acquired as mitigation from the Brazos River Harbor District. Justin Hurst WMA is a part of the Central Coast Wetlands Ecosystem Project (Central Coast Wetlands Ecosystem Project (CCWEP). The CCWEP’s mission is to provide for sound biological conservation of all wildlife resources within the central coast of Texas for the public’s common benefit.
Justin Hurst WMA is located within a league of land deeded to Stephen F. Austin by the Mexican government in 1830. The tract was known as Peach Point Plantation. The plantation was established in 1832 by James F. Perry and his wife, Emily Austin Perry, Stephen F. Austin’s sister, who bought the property from Austin for $300. The land was operated as a slave plantation until 1863 with cotton and sugar cane the primary crops.
James F. Perry died in 1853, after which Emily Perry gave William Joel Bryan (her son by previous marriage) 200 acres of the original plantation. Bryan and his wife, Lavinia Perry, made their home there and developed a thriving cotton and cattle business known as the Durazno Plantation. A portion of Durazno Plantation is contained within the present boundaries of Justin Hurst WMA. It is possible that the higher grounds were cultivated for cotton and sugar cane. During the early 20th century the property was used to graze cattle.
The portion of Peach Point Plantation that contained Justin Hurst WMA was donated to Austin College by Mrs. Lucy Harvey. The property was later sold to a consortium of six major petro-chemical corporations. Development plans included construction of an offshore pumping station for oil tankers. However, plans were canceled due to the decline in the oil based economy. The Nature Conservancy eventually acquired the 8,580 acre tract, and it was from them that TPWD purchased the area using waterfowl stamp funds.
The Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area is representative of the Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes Ecoregion which encompasses approximately 15,000 square miles of Texas. Soils are primarily clays ranging from saline to non-saline. The land is nearly level and poorly drained. Elevation is generally 5 feet or less above mean sea level with a few areas 10 feet or more above sea level. Summers are hot and humid. Rain occurs throughout the year with 60% falling between April and September. Average annual rainfall is 52 inches.
Goals: Justin Hurst WMA is a part of the Central Coast Wetlands Ecosystem Project (CCWEP). The CCWEP’s mission is to provide for sound biological conservation of all wildlife resources within the central coast of Texas for the public’s common benefit. In prioritized order, the following goals have been established for the CCWEP:
- To develop and manage habitats for indigenous and migratory wildlife species with a special emphasis on waterfowl.
- To formulate research and management activities on WMAs and private lands and disseminate research results and management information to scientists, land managers, resource agencies, and other interested groups and individuals.
- To expand and improve WMA facilities to accommodate intensive research and management activities that will allow complete understanding of coastal ecosystems.
- To provide optimal public outreach and recreational opportunity on state-owned lands compatible with the resource.