Houston Environmental News Update April 15, 2014
- Earth Day Wonderweek at the Children’s Museum of Houston. From the sky, trees, plants, animal life, all of these aspects of life make our human life possible. For 44 years, Earth Day has inspired awareness and appreciation for the planet we call home. Spring into action and celebrate the wonders of the world during Earth Day WonderWeek at the Children’s Museum of Houston from April 17-23, 2014. Protect the environment by first learning about it. See how beans start to grow in a plastic bag and learn about different parts of a plant at EcoStation; create a fan out of recycled materials and learn how glossy paper can be recycled at Junktion; make your own Lemon tree with eco-friendly materials at Junktion; craft beautiful flowers by reusing newspaper at Junktion; create your own wonderful picture of Earth at the Alexander Art Academy; learn about the science of Earth through various activities such as creating your own elephant toothpaste or recycling at the Science Station; and much more! General admission is $9 per person and $8 for seniors 65+ and for active duty military personnel. Children under one and Museum Members receive free admission.
- Memorial Park Master Plan Open House. Come hear the updates to the Memorial Park Master Plan and learn the results of the public input process! There will be an open house on April 16, 2014, at 6:30 at the High School for Performing and Visual Arts. Find out Houstonians’ priorities for the Memorial Park’s Master Plan. Public and stakeholder input has been solicited over the past six months, offering Houstonians an opportunity to provide an active voice in the planning process. Planned public outreach platforms have included public meetings along with an online survey. The input that has been collected will help inform a master plan that aims to create a healthy balance between conservation and recreation. Guests will have the opportunity to vote on these priorities at the meeting. Read more about the meeting here.
- Party for the Planet at the Houston Zoo. Join the Houston Zoo for a Party for the Planet and learn how protecting our environment helps protect wildlife! There will be plenty of activities, crafts, music and more to make this Earth Day memorable. Activities include: endangered Species Maze, race to recycle, scavenger hunt, creating a reusable mural, Meet the Keeper talks, and more! Come out for the party on April 19, 2014, from 9am-3pm. All Party for the Planet activities are included with Zoo admission. This event is free for Zoo Members. Learn more here.
- Spring Fling – Earth Day Celebration. Join the Nature Discovery Center in the park for a fun and educational event celebrating Earth Day. There will be guided nature hikes, environmental and science exhibitors, fun kids crafts and activities, food, and music. This is always a great event for the whole family! There’s no entry fee, and the walks, activities and crafts are free! The celebration will be held on April 19, 2014, from 10am-3pm. More at www.naturediscoverycenter.org.
- The Progressive Forum – Closing Event. Earlier this year, Randall Morton, Founder and President of The Progressive Forum, announced the end of the theatrical events. For nine years, The Progressive Forum brought many great minds and presentations to Houston. Although the events are ending, the mission will be continued online. The closing event will be held on April 21, 2014, at 7:30pm, at the Wortham Center, Cullen Theater. The speaker, Bill McKibben, is cofounder of 350.org, which is “building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis.” The organization has coordinated over 20,000 climate demonstrations in over 188 countries and has led opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, which would connect high-carbon tar-sand oil to Houston refineries. Learn more about the closing event and buy tickets here. Read the letter from Randall Morton here.
- The Galveston Bay Foundation Annual Membership Meeting. The Galveston Bay Foundation invites members and friends to its Annual Membership Meeting. Come hear a special presentation by TAMU-Galveston Professor Bill Merrill and SSPEED Center researcher Jim Blackburn, who will offer two expert views on how to manage storm surge and flooding in the Houston-Galveston region. Storm surge and flooding are dangerous elements of any hurricane. How can we make our communities more resilient and protect ourselves? The meeting will be held on April 23, 2014, from 5:30-8pm at the Children’s Museum of Houston. RSVP by April 18, 2014, to Michelle at email@example.com.
- Earth Day: Styrofoam Meltdown Party. Picture this: attending a party where you are enjoying a frosty libation served in a Styrofoam cup, knowing you can’t recycle the cup. Now picture recycling the cup at the party. Visit the Green Building Resource Center the day after Earth Day here to see a great ReUse in Houston display from the University of Houston, and enjoy some free libations here served in Styrofoam cups that you can leave guilt free! The Styrofoam Densifier donated to the GBRC by EcoProducts of the Future will be working away while guests can network and learn about the many entities in Houston that deal with reusing and recycling materials, assembled by the Materials Research Collaborative at the University of Houston. Come and network with like minded individuals and help take another step towards sustainable living! The Styrofoam Meltdown Party will be held on April 23, 2014, from 6-8pm. Learn more here.
- Collaborative Access Event: National Parks Service’s Rivers, Trails, & Conservation Assistance Program + Houston Wilderness’ Collaborative Grant-organizing Program. Come learn about the National Parks Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program. Have an idea for a trail, river, or park in your community? The National Park Service can help! The National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program supports community-led natural resource conversation and outdoor recreation projects across the nation. When a community asks for assistance with a project, National Park Service staff provide free, on-location facilitation and planning expertise. Also attend the Collaborative Access Event to hear about the Grant-organizing Program. Learn more about the stages of program development, current grant submissions to-date, and plans for future collaborative grant packaging efforts. The event will be held on April 17, 2014, from 10am-noon, at United Way of Greater Houston. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Houston Renewable Energy Group (HREG) Quarterly Meeting. For HREG’s quarterly meeting on April 24, 2014, the guest speaker will be Mr. Barry Cohen – algae expert and executive director of the National Algae Association. Learn about the entire production process – from incubation to final product, which is commercialized into biofuels, nutriceuticals, pharmaceuticals, and cosmeceuticals. Mr. Barry will also talk about the latest developments in the biofuels industry and how high schools are getting involved. Following this presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to tour a Houston algae facility during the following week. You do NOT want to miss this! Learn more and register here.
- Green Building Tour: H-E-B Montrose Market. The next green building tour will be held on April 25, 2014, 11am-1pm, at H-E-B Montrose Market. The building was certified by the US Green Building Council in 2012; LEED for New Construction – Silver level. The tour is free and open to the public. Learn more at www.houstontx.gov.
- 2014 BioBlitz. BioBlitz is a true ecological event! Join a team of Bayou Land Conservancy biologists and naturalists to see how many species of plants and animals can be identified in a short time frame. This year’s BioBlitz will take place at the Spring Trails Preserve, located just behind the Spring Creek Greenway Nature Center. The preserve has a variety of habitat types, including bottomland hardwood forests, pine dominated uplands, prairie pockets, a number of ponds, and riparian habitat along Spring Creek. This year’s BioBlitz will be special, as it will follow a special graduation ceremony for the Spring Creek Greenway Ambassadors! The BioBlitz will be held on April 26, 2014, from 9am-noon. Bring binoculars, hand lenses, nets, long pants, long-sleeved shirts, boots, hats, sunscreen, insect repellent, water in reusable containers, and your curiosity for the natural world. The event is free to Bayou Land Conservancy members, and $10 for non-members. To see how you can become a member before the event please click here. To RSVP please call 281-576-1634 or e-mail email@example.com
- The WaterWeek Festival. The WaterWeek festival educates more than 1,800 students about the importance of protecting their water resources. This event is one of the most popular field trips in our region. Municipal water professionals and environmental educators provide hands-on activities, both indoor and outdoor, primarily suited for third through eighth grade students each day from 9:30am-1pm. The festival is held at the WaterWorks Education Center in northeast Harris County. Attendance is free and advance reservations are required. Download a WaterWorks Education Center Field Trip Request Form to register for one day of WaterWeek. Participation in the art contest is not required. Space is limited to 350 students per day. Learn more here. Monday, April 28 – Friday, May 2 from 9:30 am – 1:00 pm.
- Earth Day Selfie Photo Contest! Celebrate Earth Day all month long! Take a picture of you and your friends participating in Earth month-related activities to win cool prizes donated by exhibitors at Earth Day Houston. Get creative and have fun! Contest ends April 30, 2014. To participate, upload your image to Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter and use #EarthDayHOU. Winners will be selected at random & notified via social media. Learn more here.
- Jones Park Photo Contest. Take to the trails at Jones Park to capture a winning shot for the annual photo contest! Participants can enter one of two divisions: Adult (ages 16 and older) and Junior (ages 15 and younger). Categories include wildlife, scenic/wildflowers, and people in the park. Only photos taken between May 1, 2013 and Monday, April 30, 2014 in Jones Park will be considered. The submission deadline is Wednesday, April 30 and mailed entries must be postmarked by Thursday, April 24. Visit www.hcp4.net for more details.
- Bay Gazer Photo Contest. Galveston Bay Foundation is calling all bay enthusiasts with an eye for photography to submit their photos to the 2014 Bay Gazer Photo Contest and come out for the announcement of the winners at Bay Day Festival. There are three entry levels based on age from 11-13 yrs, 14-17 yrs, and ages 18 plus. Each participant may submit up to three photos. The photos will then be carefully selected and voted on by the public at the Bay Day Festival on the Kemah Boardwalk on Saturday, April 26, 2014. 1st place will win a cash prize! For the rules and more information, visit the Bay Gazer page.
- GCBO Quintana Spring Fling and Auction. GCBO’s Quintana Spring Fling will be held daily the entire month of April at Quintana Neotropic Bird Sanctuary. There will be knowledgeable volunteers and staff on hand to answer your bird questions, keep a daily list, and sell water, snacks, and field guides. Stop by and visit! Additionally GCBO hosts an online auction that started on April 1, 2014, and will last until April 30, 2014. Don’t forget to go online and start bidding! Items will be added throughout the month. All proceeds raised from this auction will go toward GCBO’s coastal conservation programs.
- H.P.A.R.D. Parks Master Plan II Survey. HPARD is in the process of evaluating and adjusting its Master Plan, last published in 2008. The plan gives direction for the growth of the city’s park system for the next twenty years. Since 2007, the City of Houston has been divided into 21 Park Sectors and park need analysis at this level is being done in Phase II of the Master Plan. Your input is needed, as a resident who uses the park system, to enhance this assessment by providing input on priorities of the items that need to be addressed first with available funding. Currently, a Park Master Plan Survey is being conducted and you can participate by taking the survey. You will need your Park Sector Number to complete this survey. To determine your park sector number: 1) Visit my mycity.houstontx.gov/public; 2) From the MyCity Map Viewer Bar, click on the Layers Icon and select the Parks Sectors layer from the drop down menu; 3) Click on the Locate Address Bar, enter your address and zip code to find your park sector number. The survey is available in both English and Spanish and the results can help shape the new Park Master Plan. Please take a moment to participate in the Parks Master Plan Survey.
- Artist Boat Kayak Tours. Come take a 2-hour tour of Galveston Island’s Coastal Heritage Preserve! Located roughly midway along the length of Galveston Island, the Coastal Heritage Preserve is a project site, and critical piece in the West Bay Corridor Initiative, a multi-agency program to protect and restore critical habitats around West Bay. The Coastal Heritage Preserve represents the essence of bay coastal margin on Galveston Bay, with a full suite of habitats, from open bay water to salt, brackish, intermediate and fresh marsh, tidal flats, and upland prairie. It also exhibits a mix of ecologic, conservation, recreation, historic, and aesthetic values. Learn more about the Coastal Heritage Preserve here. Visit www.artistboat.org to register for a kayak tour. Tours are $10. Call (409)-770-0722 for more information.
- Houston Green Film Series: A Fierce Green Fire. In partnership with the Houston Peace and Justice Center, the Houston Green Film Series presents ‘A Fierce Green Fire.’ There will be opening remarks by Dr. Robert Bullard, Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University. ‘A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet’ is the first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement – grassroots and global activism spanning fifty years from conservation to climate change. The film hronicles the largest movement of the 20th century and one of the keys to the 21st. It brings together all the major parts of environmentalism and connects them. Directed and written by Mark Kitchell, Academy Award-nominated director of Berkeley in the Sixties, and narrated by Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, Van Jones, Isabel Allende and Meryl Streep, the film premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2012, has won acclaim at festivals around the world, and in 2013 begins theatrical release as well as educational distribution and use by environmental groups and grassroots activists. Read more here. The event will be held on April 16, 2014, from 6:30-9pm at the Rice Media Center. There is no cost for attending, but donations are suggested and kindly appreciated.
- LightsOut Houston. LightsOut Houston is a grass-roots effort to reduce non-essential energy use by switching off the lights. This simple act would result in $3 MILLION in energy savings! The 6th annual LightsOut Houston event will be April 24th, when buildings around the city go dark. In 2013, LightsOut Houston engaged over 140 million square feet of commercial buildings to participate. To participate, on April 24, 2014, at 10pm, turn off all unnecessary lights at your office, home, or wherever you may be and then change lighting habits. Turn off the lights when you are not in your office and encourage your employer to install occupancy sensors. Learn more at www.lightsouthouston.com.
- Toshiba Celebrates Earth Day with Free Electronics Recycling. Bring your used electronics to Toshiba to be recycled and receive a free Toshiba gift! In honor of Earth Day and as part of its ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability and giving back to its local community, Toshiba International Corporation (TIC) will hold a free electronics recycling (“e-Recycling”) event at its Houston headquarters on April 25, 2014, 10am-4pm. Members of the community may bring in any used electronic items they want to dispose of safely. Items that will be accepted for recycling include: TVs, VCRs, DVD players, computer monitors, phones, cell phones, computer CPUs, inkjet printer cartridges, computer peripherals, scanners, printers and fax machines, and stereo equipment (no appliances, smoke detectors, alkaline batteries or hazardous materials). Please call 713-466-0277 ext. 3742 or ext. 2588 with any questions.
- National Drug Take-Back Day. Have prescription medicines you need to get rid of? National Drug Take-Back Day is coming up on April 26, 2014, from 10am-2pm. This 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. Learn more about drug disposal and find a collection site near you here.
- TCEQ Environmental Trade Fair and Conference. The 2014 Environmental Trade Fair & Conference is Texas’ premier environmental educational forum, considered by many to be one of the best in the country. The conference features topics such as the drought crisis, oil & gas, air quality, and waste management. Attendees may earn CEU credits. The conference will be held May 6-7, 2014, at the Austin Convention Center. Learn more about the conference here.
- Walter B. Jones Awards Call for Nominations. NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management is pleased to announce a call for nominations for the 2014 Walter B. Jones Memorial Awards for Coastal and Ocean Resource Management. The award categories for 2014 are: Coastal Steward of the Year; Excellence in Local Government (up to five may be awarded); and Excellence in Coastal and Marine Graduate Study (up to ten may be awarded). The hallmarks of the awards are innovation, resourcefulness, and a commitment to balancing the needs of America’s natural coastal and ocean resources with the needs of people. Nominations are open to individuals, organizations, and state and local government agencies and their employees. Federal employees and officials are not eligible. Entries must adhere to specific submission and judging criteria and must be received by April 15, 2014. Winners will be notified this summer. For more information, visit the Jones Awards webpage or contact Patmarie Nedelka at Patmarie.Nedelka@noaa.gov or 301-563-1127.
- The Texas State Parks Photo Contest. Do you have a favorite photo that was taken in one of our Texas State Parks? Perhaps it’s the view from Enchanted Rock or the rim of Palo Duro Canyon, or treasured snapshots of family fun while gathered around a picnic table at Dinosaur Valley, paddling at Caddo Lake or building sandcastles on Mustang Island. Find those favorite photos or to take some new ones, because Texas State Parks is sponsoring the Picture Yourself in Texas State Parks Photo Contest. Each month Texas Parks & Wildlife features an Outdoor Activity of the Month, and in March 2014, it’s Photography Month. To encourage you to head out to a State Park and start taking pictures, TP&W is sponsoring a photography contest with three categories and three prizes. The categories are: Ages 17 and Under; Ages 18 and Over; and Instagram (for all ages) with the hashtag #myparkpic. If your photo is declared one of the three winners, you’ll receive a Hero3+ GoPro Camera, courtesy of Whole Earth Provision Co.! The contest began March 1, 2014 and runs through April 15th. The winning photos will be chosen by a team of Texas Parks & Wildlife photographers and staff. The winning photos will be published in Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine. All photos submitted will be available for reuse in Texas Parks & Wildlife publications and materials. Learn more here.
- Houston Space Center No Impact Week. Could you go a full week without making an environmental impact on planet earth? How hard would it be to live and work without wasting precious resources? Could you live without creating any trash or using any electricity? Could you save money? Be healthier? Find out this April 19th when the No Impact Week comes to Houston! Space Center Houston is partnering with The No Impact Project for its first annual Earth Day Celebration and planning a No Impact Week Challenge. Space Center will host a kick-off celebration on Saturday, April 19, 2014. There will be activities, music, workshops, demonstrations and film screenings! If your organization is interested in having a booth at the event, coordinating an activity or getting involved in Space Center Houston’s No Impact Week Challenge please fill out this form or contact Lilly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (347) 566-1593. Learn more about No Impact Week at http://noimpactproject.org.
- Sugar Land Earth Day Celebration: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rock. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Rock is the theme of the day for the Sugar Land Earth Day Celebration on April 26, 2014. Come out to the Sugar Land Town Square at 5pm and enjoy the day while learning about how you can contribute to making our planet a greener place to live. There will be many environmental activities booths and exhibits plus a poetry slam contest hosted by Brilliant Sky Toys & Books — all benefiting Keep Sugar Land Beautiful. Call 281-313-5752 for more information or visit www.kslb.org.
- Garden Haikus for Earth Day. Join Recipe for Success Foundation in celebrating National Gardening Month, National Poetry Month AND Earth Day this April by taking part in the third-annual Garden Haikus Earth Day Contest. Students with a budding interest in poetry or adults whose passion is in full bloom are invited to enter this online citywide contest. Submit your poem in the traditional haiku format to reflect spring garden themes or the fun of growing and eating healthy food. Winners will be selected from three categories: Seeds (Age 5 to 11), Sprouts (Age 12 to 17), Blooms (Age 18+). Multiple submissions welcome. Entry deadline is April 30, 2014. Find the entry form here.
- 2014 Thacher Environmental Research Contest. The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies is pleased to invite U.S. high school students to participate in the 2014 Thacher Environmental Research Contest. This annual contest allows students the opportunity to show off their science and technology skills by submitting research projects focused on the use of remote sensing and analysis tools. Students are asked to identify a U.S. protected area of interest, and design a research project that identifies why the area is unique, why it significantly contributes to our society, how this area has changed over time, and ways remote sensing and geospatial tools can be used to monitor these environmental treasures. Participation is open to all U.S. students in grades 9-12. Entries may be submitted by individuals or student teams. Three cash prizes will be presented, with the first place student or team receiving $2,000, along with a feature in the magazine Apogeo Spatial. In addition to prizes for the winning students, the teachers of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place entrants will receive a $200 Amazon.com gift card. Click here for full contest rules and to learn how enter. Entries are due May 5, 2014.
- #NeverStillLife Photo Contest. Catching waves, bagging peaks, chasing powder — public land is what makes it all possible. That’s why The Trust for Public Land works across the country to protect places where everyone can get outside, from the best of the backcountry to your go-to neighborhood parks and trails. Show where you go when you want an adventure. Submit a snapshot of someplace you like to get moving and you could win a GoPro camera. Need inspiration? Check out the GoPro footage above of blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer riding the rapids on the Colorado River. How it works: Submit your photo on Facebook—or post it to Twitter or Instagram and tag it #NeverStillLife. Rally your friends to vote for you on the contest page. Four winners will be chosen from the top entries to receive a GoPro camera. The contest ends May 16, 2014. Selfies welcome.
- 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).
- A Man in Paradise – Birding in the Rio Grande Valley
- Stone Skipping
- A Long Way to Seadrift
- Air Quality Forecast. http://www.tceq.texas.gov/airquality/monops/forecast_today.html. Houston Clean Air Network and Realtime Ozone Mapping: http://houstoncleanairnetwork.com.
- April 15, 2014: Green–Good. Moderate winds and low incoming background levels should help to keep air quality in the “Good” range statewide.
- April 16, 2014: Yellow–Moderate–Ozone. Incoming background levels may be high enough and morning winds light enough for ozone to reach “Moderate” levels on the north and northwest side of the Houston area with highest concentrations in the afternoon and early evening.
- April 17, 2014: Green–Good. Moderate winds and low incoming background levels should help to keep air quality in the “Good” range statewide.
- USACE to complete $1.3 million Half Moon Reef project (Sandra Arnold – DVIDS, 4/7/2014)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District is scheduled to complete construction of the $1.3 million Half Moon Reef project April 11 to restore 12 acres of sub-tidal reef and habitat located within the northernmost extent of the Half Moon Reef in Matagorda Bay, Texas – one of the largest restoration projects around the country. The project is the second segment of a larger 60-acre reef restoration project led by The Nature Conservancy to restore one of the largest oyster reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. The project funds will continue to be used to monitor and survey the reef’s progression. According to Mark Dumesnil, associate director of coastal restoration for The Nature Conservancy in Texas, experts anticipate that Half Moon Reef will provide ecosystem benefits within months of completion of the new habitat for oysters and other key marine life. Additional expectations include the reefs serving as a natural barrier to protect the shoreline from storms, decreasing erosion and helping to protect coastal communities from tropical storms.
- Award-winning Exploration Green project to break ground in Clear Lake (Flori Meeks – Houston Chronicle, 4/8/2014)
Several park and greenspace projects in the Clear Lake area and Galveston have been singled out for recognition by the Houston-Galveston Area Council. The council, an association of governments in a 13 Gulf Coast-area counties, presents Parks and Natural Areas Awards every year in the areas of policy tools, the planning process, on-the-ground projects over $500,000 and on-the-ground projects under $500,000. The 2013 award winners, announced earlier this year, include the Clear Lake City Water Authority’s Exploration Green project. This effort, recognized in the planning category, calls for transforming the former Clear Lake City Golf Course at 1202 Reseda Drive into a flood detention, conservation and recreation area. The Clear Lake City Water Authority, which owns the golf course property, has developed plans for creating detention ponds on the 200-acre site, along with wetland areas and natural habitats for birds, butterflies and other wildlife. Plans also call for the creation of natural hike-and-bike trails, athletic fields and other recreation areas.
- Experts Fear Impacts of Oil Cleanup on Texas Gulf Coast (Mose Buchele – StateImpact, 4/11/2014)
Recovery efforts continue weeks after a barge accident in the Houston Ship Channel dumped tens of thousands of barrels of oil into Galveston Bay. That oil kills wildlife and damages the environment. But some are worried the cleanup itself could also disturb the ecosystem along the Texas Gulf Coast. Nowhere is that threat more apparent than in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Every morning this week, hundreds of workers have gone out to Matagorda Island, a part of that refuge, to try to remove the oil. On a recent tour organized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the response team appeared to work with great care, gingerly scraping thin layers of oil-drenched sand away with shovels, then depositing it into nearby excavators for delivery into larger dump trucks. Over ten tons of sand has been removed so far. The thin barrier island, like the rest of the National Wildlife Refuge, is not meant for people. Now it’s home to ATVs, bobcat excavators, dump trucks, helicopters, and hundreds of response personnel. They – and the oil – all arrived right as migratory animals are passing through on their annual trip.