Houston Environmental News Update May 19, 2015

As Memorial Day approaches, the CEC joins you in commemorating our soldiers who have died while serving in our country’s armed service.

That Memorial Park in Houston commemorates our soldiers who died in service is probably no surprise to you. You might be somewhat surprised at some of the ties between the park and Memorial Day.

Much of Memorial Park served as Camp Logan, an emergency training center for US soldiers. Camp Logan was named for Major General John A. Logan, who, among other accomplishments, issued a proclamation in May 1868 calling for a day to honor fallen soldiers, an observance that has grown into what we now recognize as Memorial Day.

In 1926, after acquiring the land through purchase and donation, the City annexed the park area as a memorial to servicemen of World War I, according to Louis F. Aulbach, author of “Buffalo Bayou: An Echo of Houston’s Wilderness Beginnings.” Aulbach explains that while the area had not been part of the city at the time, it was already well-used for recreation, including swimming, canoeing, and catching frogs.

It is likely that the creation of the park was influenced by the Outdoor Nature Club, which was incorporated in 1923 and which is considered to be Houston’s first conservation/environmental group. Its members, according to Terry Tompkins Walsh of the Houston History Archives at the University of Houston, were involved in every significant conservation campaign in the Houston area. While many CEC member organizations in addition to the ONC and HHA are involved with Memorial Park, notable supporting organizations include the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, the Houston Parks Board, and the Memorial Park Conservancy.


  1. New Subscribers.Thank you to our new subscribers: Cynthia and Prentiss. We hope you enjoy our emails. Please consider liking us on facebook
  2. CEC Events
    More details soon.

    • July 9, 2015: Happy Birthday CEC open house
    • Late Summer 2015: Environmental Forum for Contested At-Large City of Houston Council races. Please contact rachel@cechouston.org if you would like to be a planning or promotional partner for the event.
    • November 17, 2015: CEC holiday open house
    • January 28, 2016: Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour
    • March 24, 2016: CEC’s Greater Houston Environmental Summit


  1. Bringing Back Main Street Guide Launch. H-GAC will celebrate the release of a new guide on downtown revitalization on May 20, 2015, from 9:30-11am at Another Time Soda Fountain (803 Third Street, Rosenberg). Bringing Back Main Street provides an overview of how communities can create vibrant downtowns, highlighting successful revitalization efforts implemented by small cities throughout Texas. Participants in the launch celebration will learn about revitalization and will have the opportunity to network with those working to improve the region’s downtowns. Register at https://events.r20.constantcontact.com.
  2. Green Building Tour: Tree House Memorial City. The next Green Building Tour will explore the Tree House Memorial City office building. This building, designed by Studio Red Architects, is a LEED Platinum certified two-story building that uses multiple sustainable design strategies for energy efficient lighting, water conservation, and efficient power consumption. This green-roofed project uses 50 percent less energy than baseline office buildings for which it has been awarded an innovative technology credit award by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). It has become the highest rated LEED Platinum Core and Shell Building in Texas. The tour will be held on May 21, 2015, from 5:30-8:30pm. Seating is limited. The cost is $25 for members and 35 for non-members. Appetizers and beverages are included. Learn more and register at http://usgbctexasgulfcoast.org.
  3. Bay Day 2015. Bay Day 2015 will be held on May 23, 2015, from 11am-4pm at the Kemah Boardwalk. Bay Day is a one-day celebration presented by the Galveston Bay Foundation and numerous community partners. It is a fun event for families and adults that annually draws more than 5,000 attendees to experience and learn more about Galveston Bay, the largest bay in Texas and one of the most productive estuaries in the country! This event is free to the public and is family-friendly. The festival highlights include bay-themed arts and crafts, live animal demonstrations and touch tanks, a scavenger hunt, science and marine exhibits, live music, and more. Learn more at http://galvbay.org.
  4. NPSOT-Houston Meeting. The Native Plant Society of Texas – Houston will be having a special meeting on May 21, 7-9pm at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Ahlene Shong & Jamie Scott will be presenting: “The Creation of a School Garden.” Ahlene Shong was a geologist for 9 years, followed by being a science/math teacher for 21 years. A certified Texas Master Naturalist, Shong is currently volunteering for the Katy Prairie Conservancy in the Prairie Builder School program. Jamie Scott is the Science Department Chair at Carnegie Vanguard High School and teaches Biology and Anatomy & Physiology. Prior to starting her teaching career, she was the Houston Program Manager for the Student Conservation Association (SCA), a non-profit that engages youth in hands-on service work in national and local parks. Learn more at http://npsot.org.
  5. Wild for Wildlife Family Fun Day Mini-Fest. Spend a fun day learning all about your favorite local wildlife as we welcome Baby Bird Season and kick off TWRC’s baby bird feeding program! Meet live education animals and learn how you can help the animals living all around you. The Mini-Fest will be held on May 23, 2015, 12-5pm at TWRC Wildlife Center. Please bring a roll of paper towels or one 3-roll pack of Quilted Northern Ultra Plush. (Curious about how baby squirrels would use toilet tissue? Ask one of TWRC’s baby squirrel feeders, or learn how you can sign-up to help care for the baby squirrels during the program!) Learn more and register at www.twrcwildlifecenter.org.
  6. Environmental Enforcement Roundtable: Dealing with Abandoned Buildings and Substandard Structures. Do you have problems in your community with abandoned or substandard structures and the illegal dumping that likely comes with them? Would you like to learn more about the options available to you in handling them? Then join H-GAC to hear from the City of Houston’s Department of Neighborhoods as they walk through their process.This Environmental Enforcement Roundtable will be held on May 28, 2015, 10am-noon, at the H-GAC offices. For more information or to RSVP please contact Erin Livingston at 832-681-2525 or erin.livingston@h-gac.com. More at www.h-gac.com.
  7. LUNG FORCE Walk – Houston. Come out for the LUNG FORCE Walk on May 30, 2015, at the University of Houston (Central Campus). With your participation and help, the LUNG FORCE Walk will make a difference in lives that desperately need it. Register today, because now is the time to raise our voices against lung cancer—and for lung health. Participation in LUNG FORCE Walks is free. However, LUNG FORCE is a fundraising event and all participants are encouraged to raise funds. Kick off your fundraising by making a personal donation of $25 toward your fundraising goal of raising a minimum of $100.Learn more and register at http://action.lung.org.
  8. Summer Salon Series – “Minority Report: Why So Few Vote; When Will Hispanic Political Influence Reflect Demographic Reality.” The Center’s Summer Salons are a series of casual breakfast conversations, bringing big-picture thinkers and regional experts together with broader audiences, for an extended deep-dive discussion of our Indicators research, with a focus on the next steps for creating a sustainable and competitive Houston. There will be three events over the summer. The first event, “Minority Report: Why So Few Vote; When Will Hispanic Political Influence Reflect Demographic Reality,” will be held on June 3, 2015, 7:30-9:30am at The Junior League of Houston, Inc. The cost is $25 per person and includes a full breakfast buffet. Learn more and register at https://interland3.donorperfect.net.
  9. KPC Unplugged Adventure: Monarch Madness. Did you know that the Monarch is the state insect of Texas? Come learn about these fascinating fliers and take a butterfly hike on the prairie. You’ll even get to take home some monarch habitat – your very own milkweed plant! This KPC event will be held on June 6, 2015, 9-11am at the Indiangrass Preserve. The cost is $5 per person. More at www.katyprairie.org.
  10. Buffalo Bayou Park’s Grand Opening. Come celebrate the grand opening of Buffalo Bayou Park on Saturday, June 20, 2015! For this free, public event, BBP will highlight various destinations and amenities in the 160-acre park that stretches from Shepherd Drive to Sabine Street. Enjoy a day full of activities ranging from walking tours, lectures, children’s crafts, recreational opportunities, and programming that will showcase Houston’s diverse arts community, live music and food. Learn more at http://buffalobayou.org.


  1. ENERGY STAR® Sales Tax Holiday. During Memorial Day weekend, Texas shoppers get a break from state and local sales and use taxes on purchases of certain energy efficient products. The 2015 ENERGY STAR sales tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. (after midnight) on Saturday, May 23, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 25 (Memorial Day). Qualifying products will display the ENERGY STAR logo, which may appear on the appliance, the packaging or the Energy Guide label. ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. Earning the ENERGY STAR means a product meets strict energy efficiency guidelines set by these two federal agencies. There is no limit on the number of qualifying items one can purchase during this sales tax holiday, and an exemption certificate is not required. Learn more at www.window.state.tx.us.
  2. Shale Gas & the Potential for U.S. Energy Independence – A Rational Middle Energy Series Panel Discussion. A decade ago, natural gas was perceived as an expensive resource with a dwindling supply. Now, with a technically recoverable reserve of 2,515 trillion cubic feet in the U.S. alone, and prices as low as $2.250/MMBtu, it has made a name for itself as an economically viable energy source that is cleaner than its counterparts. But with the environmental concerns about fracking, it remains unclear how long the natural gas boom will last. How will we balance a sustainable energy future? Come out on May 27, 2015, 7-8pm at The Junior League of Houston, for a film screening and panel discussion, moderated by Rational Middle Director and Producer, Gregory Kallenberg. Mr. Kallenberg previously directed and produced Haynesville: A Nation’s Hunt for an Energy Future, and has written for Esquire Magazine, and The New York TImes, among others. He has spoken about the future of energy at TEDx, Bucknell University’s Environmental Symposium on Shale Gas, and Rice University’s “Distinguished Speakers Series. Learn more at www.wachouston.org.
  3. Addressing Conflict with Deer in Our Communities – An Interactive and Engaging Workshop. White-tailed deer are a valuable natural resource enjoyed by many across Texas. However, when deer numbers escalate and they become overabundant, deer can threaten wildlife and plant diversity and cause emotionally charged conflict within communities. There are very real economic, cultural, health, and ecological concerns. Texas communities regularly confront these issues. Come out to Texas State University on May 29, 2015, for a workshop that addresses these topics. This workshop will allow attendees to learn from the experiences of others and hear from nationally recognized experts currently working with overabundant deer issues. The cost is $55, which includes lunch. Register at www.texas-wildlife.org.
  4. Teacher Trainings: Down Under Out Yonder (DUOY) and Intracoastal Waterway Wetlands Expedition (IWWE). A DUOY coral reef ecology underwater workshop for educators will be held from July 11-15, 2015. This 5-day expedition includes a 2-day Corals to Classrooms workshop followed by three days of diving the coral reefs of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, which harbors the northernmost coral reefs in the continental US, providing habitat for a variety of fish, turtles, and sharks. Participants return to their classrooms filled with innovative ideas for teaching biology, oceanography, geology, physical science, government, and environmental science. Another workshop, IWWE, a coastal habitat ecology workshop for educators, will be held from June 15-19, 2015. Cruise the estuaries of coastal Texas from the Louisiana border to Freeport by way of the Intracoastal Waterway during this five-day expedition. Along the way, participants explore diverse habitats as they learn about the natural and human threats to our living coast. Educators of all levels walk away from this experience with new knowledge and skills for educating students about coastal ecology (and economy). For more information, call 361-882-3939 or email info@gulfmex.org or visit http://www.gulfmex.org/education-training/duoy/.
  5. Houston Three By Three. Houston Three By Three is a program that includes three sessions with three speakers each who will discuss issues unique to the region, including innovative building skins created for hot-weather and high-wind environments, high performance facades, and the future face of Houston. The well rounded, informed dialogue will inform and inspire. This program includes the of the Facades+ 2-day conference into a quick-take morning forum with a local focus—Facades+AM—this time tailor-made for Texas and the Southwest region. Houston Three By Three will be held on June 18, 2015, at Hotel Icon. Learn more and register at http://am.facadesplus.com.
  6. Congressional Climate Message Day. On June 23, 2015, friends at Citizens’ Climate Lobby will be sending 900 volunteers to Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, to lobby for legislation that prices carbon. You can help make their meetings a success by letting your representatives and senators know that their constituents support congressional action to address climate change. On June 22, 2015, you can participate by contacting Congress by phone and social media. Learn more at www.facebook.com.
  7. Additional Community Announcements
  8. TV: Texas Parks & Wildlife. Broadcast on KUHT Channel 8 at 3:00 PM each Saturday and on municipal access cable channels in Baytown, Deer Park, Houston, Nassau Bay, Pasadena, Seabrook, Sugar Land, and on HCC TV. More info on the TPWD website (* indicates a segment about the Houston area). For a preview, visit TPWD’s YouTube Page.
    • The Real Bears of East Texas
    • Wild Things: Turtles and Roads
    • Palo Duro Canyon State Park
    • The Spring Trackers
  9. Air Quality Forecast. http://www.tceq.texas.gov/airquality/monops/forecast_today.html. Houston Clean Air Network and Realtime Ozone Mapping: http://houstoncleanairnetwork.com.
    • May 19, 2015: Green–Good. Lower incoming background levels and moderate winds should help to keep air quality in the “Good” range.
    • May 20, 2015: Green–Good. Lower incoming background levels and moderate winds should help to keep air quality in the “Good” range.
    • May 21, 2015: Green–Good. Lower incoming background levels and moderate winds should help to keep air quality in the “Good” range.
    • May 22, 2015: Green–Good. Lower incoming background levels and moderate winds should help to keep air quality in the “Good” range.

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Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: May 18, 2015


  1. Texas Passes On New Park Benches Equipped With Air Analyzers (Dave Fehling – Houston Public Media, 5/13/2015)
    “In a growing number of cities across the country, the federal government is installing what look like park benches in public places. But they’re not just a place to sit. They actually have a scientific purpose… That’s right. [They are] air pollution monitoring station[s] disguised as a park bench[es]. It’s the brainchild of some scientists at the federal Environmental Protection Agency.”
  2. Some enviro-friendly items hurt recyclers’ bottom line (Sarah Scully – Houston Chronicle, 5/8/2015)
    “As low commodity prices have left recyclers short on cash to invest in technological upgrades, product manufacturers are coming out with new types of packaging that make business even tougher. These products include lighter-weight plastic bottles, resealable pouch containers and other items that are popular with consumers and often better for the environment because they require less energy to produce and transport. Water bottles are made with less plastic now, for example, and thin plastic film is replacing heavier packaging. But poor consumer education means that items like trash, grocery and dry cleaning bags end up in recyclers’ sorting facilities where they don’t belong and can jam machines.”
  3. Houston-Harris County Partnership Targets Illegal Dumping (Florian Martin – Houston Public Media, 5/13/2015)
    “The city has long fought illegal dumping in Houston. In its newest action on the issue, the City Council approved an agreement with Harris County to install at least 25 cameras in council districts with the highest number of reported incidents. Mayor Annise Parker said offenders are prosecuted aggressively… But it’s difficult to catch someone who dumps trash somewhere on the side of the road. The cameras are one tool to address the issue. As part of the agreement with the county, the city will pay $250,000 for the equipment, but Harris County Constable for Precinct 1 Alan Rosen’s office will review the footage.”


  • 17 May
  • 15 May
    • U.S. green groups sue in challenge to oil train safety rules (Ayesha Rascoe – Planet Ark News)
  • 14 May
    • UH Researchers: Climate Change Helped to Reduce Ozone Levels (Guidry News)
    • End of the Road for Tesla, Ride-for-Hire Bills (Jim Malewitz and Ryan McCrimmon – The Texas Tribune)
    • Bring It On Houston! Bikes Welcome at All Hours on METRORail (METRO News)
    • Climate change helped to reduce ozone levels, study says (Phys.org)
    • End of the Road for Tesla, Ride-for-Hire Bills (Jim Malewitz and Ryan McCrimmon – The Texas Tribune)
    • Texas Nuclear Science Center Evacuated After Chemical Spill (KBTX News)
  • 13 May
  • 12 May
    • A Sign of the Times as Metro Launches a New Bus Network (Mass Transit)
    • TPWD Temporarily Closes Alligator Gar Fishing in Trinity River Downstream of Dallas (Texas Parks & Wildlife)
    • Amid Local Control Fight, a GOP Proposal Cities Like (Jim Malewitz – The Texas Tribune)
    • Officials call on Texas to go big on solar – Environment Texas to distribute 46,000 flyers on solar energy (Environment Texas)
    • ALA Report: air quality mixed in Texas, throughout USA (Elena Craft – EDF)
  • 11 May
    • As EPA Pushes For Cleaner Air, Refineries Push Back (Dave Fehling – Houston Public Media)
    • Abbott declares State Of Disaster in Texas counties (Deer Park Broadcaster)
    • What Tesla’s Powerwall Home Energy Storage Battery Means for Texas (Marita Mirzatuny – EDF)
    • Gulf Coast ports and Texas freight facilities…here’s an opportunity for you! (Christina Wolfe – EDF)
    • As poaching heats up, conservationists advocate sending South Africa rhinos to Texas (Amy Westervelt – The Guardian)
    • Auction Results for the Earth Day Art Contest (Sara Heald – Earth Day Houston)
    • Winners announced for Texas State Fish Art contest (Lone Star Outdoor News)
  • 8 May
    • Some enviro-friendly items hurt recyclers’ bottom line (Sarah Scully – Houston Chronicle)
    • The story behind those endangered-species signs and stickers (Matthew Schneider-Mayerson – Houston Chronicle)
    • Candidates, public see different routes to solve gridlock (Rebecca Elliott – Houston Chronicle)
    • Water Flowing From Toilet to Tap May Be Hard to Swallow (John Schwartz – The New York Times)
  • 7 May
    • Collaboration key to new water technologies (Monique Ching – San Angelo Times)
  • 6 May
    • Houston farmers market named tops in Texas and one of 50 best in the USA (Elizabeth Rhodes – CultureMap Houston)
    • Data App: Track Texas Reservoir Levels (Ryan Murphy and Kate Galbraith – The Texas Tribune)
  • 5 May
    • In recycling, economics trump good intentions (Sarah Scully – Houston Chronicle)
    • Water districts challenged to increase conservation (Robin Foster – Houston Chronicle)
  • 4 May
    • Tear down the Pierce Elevated. Make it Pierce Promenade. (John S. Jacob – Houston Chronicle)
  • 29 April
    • Recycling woes, less trash send Waste Management to a loss (Sarah Scully – Houston Chronicle)