Houston Environmental News Update September 16, 2014

COALITION NOTES

  1. The Future of Transportation in The Woodlands: What’s Next? September’s Going Green Sustainability Lecture, sponsored by The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N., will focus on The Woodlands area’s transportation issues. The Woodlands is facing major transportation challenges with the growing traffic levels that are accompanying new development in and around The Woodlands. This added traffic impacts air quality, noise levels, storm runoff, and public safety. Mike Bass, Director on The Woodlands Township Board, will provide an update about these conditions and options considered in two major studies launched in 2013. The lecture will be held on September 16, 2014, at 7pm at the South Regional Library. More at www.thewoodlands.net.
  2. Feast With the Beasts. Tickets are now on sale for the Houston Zoo’s Feast With the Beasts, which will be held on November 7, 2014, 7-11pm. This year’s event features 60 of Houston’s hottest restaurants, special animal presentations and feedings, and a live performance by Sugar Ray. Money raised helps support the care and feeding of the over 6,000 animals that call Houston Zoo home. General admission is $119 for non-members and $109 for members. Purchase tickets before September 16 and receive $10 off general admission tickets! Zoo members only need to log in to receive the discount. Non-members should use the code: FEASTPS. Learn more at www.houstonzoo.org.
  3. A Story of Memorial Park: People in Nature. Please join the Memorial Park Conservancy on September 17, 2014, from 6pm to 8pm for a public update meeting about the current Memorial Park Master Planning process.  The evening will include a presentation by the master planning design team (Nelson Byrd Woltz – www.nbwla.com) and a Q & A session following the presentation. Join the Memorial Park Conservancy, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and Uptown-Houston who are jointly leading the Memorial Park Long-Range Master Planning effort to learn about Memorial Park’s soils, ecology, cultural history and preliminary design ideas for the park.  For more information, visit http://www.memorialparkconservancy.org/visit-memorial-park/calendar.html.
  4. Houston Green Film Series: Come Hell or High Water. Houston Green Film Series will begin again for the fall semester, commencing with the documentary Come Hell or High WaterCome Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek follows the painful but inspiring journey of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who moves home to Mississippi when the graves of his ancestors are bulldozed to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport. Over the course of a decade, Evans and his family and neighbors stand up to powerful corporate interests and politicians and face Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil disaster in their struggle for self-determination and environmental justice. Come out on September 17, 2014, at 6:30pm, to the Rice Media Center. A light dinner will be served, courtesy of Dr. Pat Speck and Dry Bones Cafe. The film is free to the public, though donations are suggested and kindly appreciated. Learn more and RSVP at www.facebook.com.
  5. Sierra Club Evening Benefit Event. The Sierra Club Evening Benefit will be held on September 17, 2014, from 6:30-8:30pm at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Gather with like-minded folks, enjoy good company, as well as some great appetizers, and donate to both our local Houston Regional Group and the Lone Star Chapter. Hear from the new chapter Executive Director, Scheleen Walker, about past successes and upcoming challenges (including the next legislative session); as well Jennifer Walker, chapter Water Resources Coordinator about what we can’t live without. Learn about plans for the 2015 Legislative Session and the Sierra Club’s leadership in Austin on environmental policy. Single tickets are $30, couples tickets are $50. There are also multiple sponsorship levels. Email art.browning@gmail.com for purchase and info. Find out more at http://houston.sierraclub.org.
  6. Houston Speaks: My Houston 2040: Air Alliance Houston will present a cross-cultural, cross generational and cross-communal dialogue of issues voiced by eight Houston residents, with the aim of promoting “sameness” that exists throughout the Houston community. Networking begins at 5:30, with the show starting promptly at 6:00. Please rsvp to the Facebook Event Page for more information.
  7. Clean Waters Initiative: Water Rights and Water Reuse. The next Clean Waters Initiative will be held on September 18, 2014, at 1:30pm in H-GAC Conference Room A, Second Floor. The topic will be Water Rights and Water Reuse. Subjects to be covered include Region H water supply, Environmental Flows, Rain Barrels, Desalination and Energy Production, and Water Conservation. You can register at http://events.r20.constantcontact.com. CWI offers workshops that help local governments, landowners, and citizens develop effective strategies to reduce pollution in our area waterways. For more information, contact Aubin Phillips at 832-681-2524.
  8. Tree & Wetland Plant Nursery Open House. Trees for Houston and the Texas Coastal Watershed Program, in conjunction with the Clear Lake City Water Authority and the Exploration Green Conservancy, are holding a joint open house for the tree and wetland nurseries at Exploration Green, October 4, 2014, 9am-12pm. Tours will be offered and information provided about volunteer opportunities in the nurseries, which are growing trees and plants for the conservation and recreation area in Clear Lake City. The nurseries are accessible from the trail that heads northeast from the bridge on Neptune Lane, approximately 2 ½ blocks north of Bay Area Blvd. Learn more at www.explorationgreen.org.
  9. Galveston Bay Foundation Rain Barrel Program. Rain barrels are an efficient, low-cost method for collecting rainwater. They are placed at downspouts in order to reduce runoff into storm drains, and can be used for watering a garden or houseplants, among many other uses. Come learn about rain barrels at Galveston Bay Foundation’s Rain Barrel Workshop on September 20, 2014, from 2-4pm at the Brown Education Hall at the Houston Zoo. The cost is $30 per registration, which includes admission to the workshop, a 35-gallon recycled barrel, and a connector kit. All purchases are final and attendance at the workshop is required to receive a barrel and kit. Register at www.galvbay.org. There will be another workshop on October 4, 2014, 9:30-11:30am at the McGuire Dent Recreation Center in Galveston.
  10. Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza. Autumn is hummingbird season in Texas, as thousands of these tiny creatures move through the state on their southward migration to Mexico and Central America. Join Gulf Coast Bird Observatory on September 20, 2014, to see hummingbirds being banded, adopt a hummingbird, browse the Nature Store, walk the nature trails, or buy a plant to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. More at http://gcbo.org.
  11. KPC Unplugged Adventure: Rails in the Rice. Rice farms and rangelands are home to thousands of species of wildlife. Rails move silently through rice paddies, egrets seek insects among cow herds, and frogs patiently wait for prey along drainage ditches. Join Katy Prairie Conservancy and explore rice fields and cattle pastures looking for the colorful, amazing, and secretive lives of the animals who frequent these landscapes. This adventure will be held on September 20, 2014, 6-7:30pm at the Nelson Farms Preserve. The cost is $3 per person. Learn more and register at www.katyprairie.org.
  12. Call of The Wild Speaker Series: Julian Fennessy. Come out to the Houston Zoo’s Brown Education Center on September 25, 2014 for the Call of the Wild speaker series with Julian Fennesy. Julian Fennessy is Executive Director of GCF, Conservation Scientist, and a founding Trustee of GCF. He will be speaking on his 15+ years experience in species and habitat ecology, conservation and land management across the African continent (and Australia), and in particular, focal giraffe related activities across Africa. His experience in the field of giraffe conservation is something few others can boast, from individual field projects, supervision of students, population and country-wide assessments, to expert advising on species conservation strategies. Learn more: www.houstonzoo.org.
  13. Texas Gulf Coast Gardener Class Series. Mercer Botanic Garden’s is very excited to once again be offering it’s Texas Gulf Coast Gardener class series. Tiers 1 and 2 of this popular program will be offered again this fall. The TGCG curriculum, developed by the botanists and staff at Mercer Botanic Gardens, gives participants the knowledge and skills needed to grow, develop, and maintain their own gardens through a variety of gardening and horticulture topics specifically designed for the Texas Gulf Coast climate. Tier-1 and Tier-2 are two separate classes in a three part program. While the classes do build on each other it is not necessary to take them in any particular order. Tier 1 covers topics including site preparation, composting, plant propagation, and water-wise irrigation practices. Tier 2 focuses on plants that can be successfully cultivated in home gardens and landscapes in the Texas Gulf Coast climate. This fall’s programs will be 9-weeks long. Tier-1 will be held on Thursdays from September 25, 2014 – November 20, 2014. Tier-2 will be held on Tuesdays from September 23, 2014 – November 18, 2014. The cost of enrollment for TMS members is $200; enrollment for non-members is $225. Participants will receive a text book, T-shirt or tote bag, and a one-year membership to TMS. Call 281-443-8731 or visit the park to enroll.
  14. Marsh Mania. Join Galveston Bay Foundation on Saturday, September 27, 2014,to celebrate National Estuaries Day by having fun restoring marsh at three different Marsh Mania sites around Galveston Bay! Be a part of a community of more than 7,100 volunteers over the past fifteen years who have restored over 202 acres at 74 sites around the bay. Restoration Sites: Shipe Woods (Oak Island/Anahuac), Bay Harbor (Galveston Island), Pine Gully Park (Seabrook). Learn more!
  15. Scenic Galveston’s 28th Event: GLO Adopt-A-Beach-Estuary. SCENIC GALVESTON’s wetlands partnership cleaning event with the General Land Office is fast approaching! It’s time again for volunteers to step through and into the Tide‖ to remove tons of debris, invasive plants, ugly objects from SG’s estuarial habitat conservation preserves and shorelines. There will be on site registration between 8-9am. The cleanup will be held on September 27, 2014, 9am-noon. After, teams will return to the O’Quinn Pavillion for a custom lunch (required RSVP) with a lively report on latest habitat conservation work, team leader reports, and the day’s bird count. Learn more at www.guidrynews.com.
  16. Fall 2014 RSA/RDA Lecture Series: Near Future. The Fall 2014 Rice School of Architecture and Rice Design Alliance lecture series will bring to Houston five visionaries whose creative work attempts to forecast the future. The future is typically represented in literature, film, and art as a distant fantasy — flying cars, robot servants, laser beams. But these speakers — an architectural historian, photographer, production designer, architect and curator, and artist — examine the actual present conditions of our cities and combine both what is familiar and what is unexpected to speculate about the look of things in the next generation. Near Future, curated by RSA Wortham Fellow Sam Stewart-Halevy, will follow a different format from prior RSA/RDA lecture series. On Wednesday, October 1, Jean-Louis Cohen, an architectural historian and critic, will provide a solo introduction.Purchase tickets online. Learn more at http://ricedesignalliance.org.
  17. KPFT 90.1 Tennis Fun Fest. Come out to the Homer Ford Tennis Center on October 11, 2014, for a fun day of tennis! This event will be hosted by KPFT 90.1. The day begins at 8:30am with a 45-minute clinic led by tennis star Lori McNeil (formerly ranked #9 in the world) and her coach and mentor, John Wilkerson. There will be 3 levels of play: Youth to age 16; Adult: Novice; Adult Intermediate/Advanced. The matches will be twenty minutes. This day will be fun for the whole family! Come out for music, food, playground, and auction. Spectators are welcome! Find out more at http://kpft.org.
  18. Texas Fresh: Beyond Organic Dinner. On October 18, 2014, support Central City Co-op and the Last Organic Outpost by celebrating with food in the finest way – fresh at the farm prepared by Chef Jeremy Goodwin of Texas Al Fresco. Come dine in an urban oasis and show your continued support for local food that goes beyond organic. The cost is $70. Get your ticket at www.centralcityco-op.com.
  19. Save the Date! How Sustainable is the Texas Coast? Our dynamic coastline is changing faster than ever before. Changes are visible over the last 50, 30 and even 10 years. The environmental, social and economic impacts of coastal change are readily measurable and are increasing. These impacts can make us less resilient, particularly when more intense conditions affect our coastal state. The effects result in even greater impact beyond our coast. The Shell Center for Sustainability presents How Sustainable is the Texas Coast? Are we in a “state of denial”? A workshop that presents the most recent scientific data modeled by a team of multidisciplinary researchers working together to measure what these effects will mean to us. The workshop takes place on Wednesday, October 29, 2014, at McMurtry Auditorium in Duncan  Hall, on the Rice University campus. More at http://shellcenter.rice.edu.
  20. Greens Bayou Letter Writing Campaign. Greens Bayou Corridor Coalition recently kicked off a citizen’s letter writing campaign in support of funding for the Greens Bayou Federal Project at Beltway 8 and Antoine. In 1990, a promise was made by the US Congress to construct a detention basin at Beltway 8 and Antoine that would provide flood relief and become an integral component of an overall system of basins and channel improvements along Greens Bayou. For many years the residents and businesses bordering the project location and downstream have waited while continued floods lowered their property values, made flood insurance too expensive to afford and made homes unsellable, and some unlivable. Greens Bayou Corridor Coalition is writing for action. Learn more about the campaign at http://greensbayou.org.
  21. Galveston Bay Report Card. Did you know that half of Texans live within the Galveston Bay watershed, which extends from the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico? Take this #GalvBaySurvey online and let the Galveston Bay Foundation know what issues are important to you, and what you would like to learn more about. www.galvbay.org
  22. Additional Upcoming Events

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COMMUNITY NOTES

  1. Fall Interfaith Environmental Stewardship Event. Join with people of all faiths, or no faith at all, in caring for our shared environment on Sunday afternoon, September 21, 2014, from 1:30-4:30pm. Attendees will engage in hands-on environmental stewardship by working with the Japhet Creek Nature Park. Japhet Creek Nature Park serves a neighborhood with little other access to greenspace. The park is located at 4600 Clinton at Emile in Houston (south of I-10 East). This event will offer activities for all ages and skill levels, so bring the whole family, your neighbors, and your friends. Contact Lisa at gcs.lrc@gmail.com or 713-372-7345 for more information or to sign up to help.
  2. Texas Riparian & Stream Ecosystem Workshop. The Texas Riparian & Stream Ecosystem Workshop will be held on September 24, 2014, 8am-4pm, at Whites Park Community Center. Hear from an expert how streams and riparian areas work. Find out how you can manage riparian areas to protect your property from erosion. See which plants are doing what in one of our own local streams. Trainings will focus on the nature and function of stream and riparian zones and the benefits and direct economic impacts from healthy riparian zones. The riparian education programs will cover an introduction to riparian principles, watershed processes, basic hydrology, erosion/deposition principles, and riparian vegetation, as well as potential causes of degradation and possible resulting impairment(s), and available local resources including technical assistance and tools that can be employed to prevent and/or resolve degradation. These one-day trainings in watersheds across the state will include both indoor classroom presentations and outdoor stream walks. For more information or questions please contact Nikki Dictson at 979-458-5915 or n-dictson@tamu.edu and visit http://texasriparian.org.
  3. National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications. This year, the Take-Back Day will be held on September 27, 2014, 10am-2pm at various locations. Find a collection site near you by visiting www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov.
  4. 2014-2015 Energy Symposium Series: Critical Issues in Energy. The second annual Energy Symposium Series will be held on September 30, 2014, 5:30-8pm at the University of Houston. The topic of this event is US Energy Independence: Good for the Nation? Guest speakers include Edward Chow, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Ed Hirs, Hillhouse Resources LLC and University of Houston, and Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska. The event will be moderated by Dave Fehling of Houston Public Media. This is a free event. Visit www.eventbrite.com to register.
  5. SXSW Eco 2014 (Austin, TX). SXSW Eco 2014 is approaching! SXSW Eco attracts a global community to explore, engage and co-create solutions for a sustainable world. A uniquely inclusive platform for professionals, SXSW Eco examines the critical challenges of our times through a kaleidoscopic lens of design innovation, policy tipping points, technological breakthroughs, conservation practice, entrepreneurial spirit and a culture of creativity to transform inspiration into action. This 3 day event will feature speakers, sessions, workshops, networking opportunities with experts and industry leaders, film screenings, receptions, SXSW Eco Awards Ceremony, closing party, mentor sessions, exhibition, meet ups, startup central, and more! SXSW Eco will be held October 6-8, 2014, in Austin, TX. Register by September 12 to save at http://sxsweco.com!
  6. Coastal Resiliency Conference: Living on the Edge. Galveston Historical Foundation’s Center for Coastal Heritage, in partnership with University of Texas Medical Branch’s Center in Environmental Toxicology, is organizing a three day conference on coastal resilience scheduled for October 8-10, 2014. This conference will provide a platform to discuss the challenges and strategies for building and preserving a resilient Gulf Coast. Attendees will explore the connections between the natural environment and the cultural heritage of coastal populations. The cost is $120, and $25 for students. Register at www.galvestonhistory.org.
  7. Biennial Scientific Symposium. Register now for the Children’s Environmental Health Institute’s Eight Biennial Scientific Symposium: Prenatal Environmental Exposures as a Determinant of Early Childhood Disease. Hear global experts challenge us to elevate critical  thinking on ways to address the prevention of environmental health risks to children. Keynote speakers Jeanne Conry, MD, PhD, and Philippe Grandjean, MD, PhD, among other distinguished speakers will provide prevention-oriented research on how toxic chemicals in the environment harm our ability to reproduce, negatively affect pregnancies, and are associated with numerous health problems and chronic disease. The symposium will be held November 13-14, 2014, at McKinney Roughs Education Center, close to Austin Texas. Learn more and register at http://cehi.org.
  8. Captain Planet Foundation Small Grant. The Captain Planet Foundation primarily makes grants to U.S.-based schools and organizations with an annual operating budget of less than $3 million. Grants are made for activities that conform to the mission of the Captain Planet Foundation and MUST have all three of the following to be considered for funding: be project based; projects must be performed by youth; and projects must have real environmental outcomes. Captain Planet Foundation will accept small grant requests for amounts between $500 – $2,500. Preferential consideration is given to requests who have secured at least 50% matching or in-kind funding for their projects. The application for spring and summer projects is September 30, 2014, and January 31, 2015, for fall and winter projects. Read more and apply at http://captainplanetfoundation.org.
  9. International Low Impact Development Conference 2015. The International Low Impact Development Conference 2015 will be held January 19-21, 2015. This conference will highlight new and continuing work including research developments and community adoption of LID throughout the United States and internationally. In addition, this conference will focus on the application of LID technology in the Southwest region of the US and will also include a mini-symposium on arid region LID. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from CNN’s 2013 Hero of the Year, Chad Pregracke, whose presentation will be “Helping to Clean America’s Rivers: From the Bottom Up.” Learn more at http://content.asce.org.
  10. Additional Community Announcements  
  11. 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.
    • Restoring a Texas Treasure – Guadalupe Bass
    • Lake Casa Blanca International State Park
    • Wild Things: Texas Symbols
    • A Scar on the Flats
  12. Air Quality Forecast. http://www.tceq.texas.gov/airquality/monops/forecast_today.html. Houston Clean Air Network and Realtime Ozone Mapping: http://houstoncleanairnetwork.com.

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ECONOTES

  1. Houston getting $10 million for traffic tracking systems (Houston Chronicle, 9/10/2014)
    An ongoing project to expand and upgrade traffic systems in the Houston area has received $10 million from a highly-competitive federal transportation program, officials confirmed. Though it won’t build a new road or add another bus route, officials said the money will improve traffic by bolstering Houston’s transportation monitoring system, which relays traffic information to drivers and helps city workers address congestion. The money gives Houston officials another $10 million to invest in work already going on around the area to upgrade or add traffic monitoring data, city of Houston public works spokesman Alvin Wright said.
    http://blog.chron.com
  2. Houston offers sweet deal on park to Sugar Land (Mike Morris – Houston Chronicle, 9/5/2014)
    In the 25 years since the city of Houston and the Houston Parks Board purchased Cullinan Park off Highway 6 near U.S. 90A, creating the city’s fourth-largest park, the site has languished. Far outside Houston city limits next to Sugar Land Regional Airport, the park boasts just one entrance road, some picnic tables, and a few hiking trails to complement the wooden walkways overlooking White Lake, abuzz with dragonflies and coated with lily pads. “This is a great resource out here, but it has a long way to go before you can really call it a good all-purpose park,” said Don Gallo, local resident and park regular. Houston is now considering transferring responsibility for the park to the city of Sugar Land.
    www.houstonchronicle.com
  3. Planning for future water use a conundrum for Houston (Matthew Tresaugue – Houston Chronicle)
    Beneath Houston, miles of the city’s aging water mains are leaking billions of gallons each year. The repairs will require years of work and millions of dollars. So what’s a city to do? Houston is raising the possibility of a new rate structure as the city finalizes the first update to its conservation plan since enduring the worst one-year drought in its history in 2011.
    www.houstonchronicle.com