Houston Environmental News Update February 10, 2016

You have a day to recover after Valentine’s Day* before another emotion-laden ritual begins: early voting for primary elections. If you aren’t sick of politics yet, you can learn more from the League of Women Voters of the Houston Area (check out their video about the Primary Process in Texas), VoteTexas.org, or your local county clerk/chief elections officer. Remember, your vote impacts our environment. Your non-vote does so too.

* Some special opportunities for Valentine’s Day:

HMNS, Urban Harvest, Hermann Park Conservancy, Houston Arboretum, and many other organizations have some great environmental (and romantic) events coming up, so please be sure to check the calendar on the left, below the table of contents.

If you’d rather stay in, you can curl up on the couch and check out some of the films that we included in the Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour a few weeks ago. Not all are available, and many are previews or shorter versions, but we’ve put a playlist together on CEC’s Youtube channel. The playlist includes the excellent local films provided by and featuring the Houston Zoo and Katy Prairie Conservancy.

CEC NOTES

  • Save the Date: CEC’s Greater Houston Environmental Summit
    Please mark your calendar for our annual summit on Thursday, March 24, 2016. If you are interested in sponsoring the event or participating in the planning committee, please contact [email protected]
  • New Subscribers Thank you to our new subscribers: Jenny, Nicole, Virginia, C, Kellie, Taylor, Natalie, and Taylor. I’d also like to welcome the many people who signed up at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour. We hope you enjoy our emails. Please consider liking us on facebook.

COALITION NOTES

  1. Bucket Brigade Volunteer Trainings. Bucket Brigade volunteers will help provide free interpretive tours of Galveston Beaches between March and September 2016 to help raise awareness about topics related to coastal and marine ecosystems. Artist Boat has several training opportunities over the next month for those interested in joining the Bucket Brigade. For more information or to sign up visit the Artist Boat website at www.artistboat.org or email the Bucket Brigade Coordinator at
    [email protected]

    • February 13, 2016, 9am-1pm: Interpreter Training
    • February 17, 2016, 5:30-6:30pm: Orientation
    • February 20, 2016, 9am-1pm: Interpreter Training
    • February 21, 2016, 1-5pm: Interpreter Training
    • February 24, 2016, 5:30-6:30pm: Orientation
    • March 5, 2016, 9am-1pm: Interpreter Training
  2. Buffalo Bayou Walking Tour. February 13, 2016, 10:00 am. Explore the city from a vantage point most people don’t see: the waterway that gave Houston life and has been its backbone for 175 years. Architecture Center Houston (ArCH), with the cooperation of Buffalo Bayou Partnership, invite you to a stroll along Buffalo Bayou Parkway for an overview of downtown Houston’s history and architecture from its beginnings in 1836 to the efforts to revitalize the central city today. The tour showcases the innovative bayou reclamation efforts of the City of Houston, Harris County, and Buffalo Bayou Partnership, while topically discussing history and preservation, contemporary architecture, the bayou, and adjacent parkland. The cost is $5 for AIA Houston Members, architecture students with ID, and Bayou Buddies. General admission is $10. https://aiahouston.org
  3. Love Mother Earth Gathering. On Valentine’s Day, celebrate your love of Mother Earth by coming together to share your concern for the future of our beautiful planet. You’ll learn the latest peer-reviewed science of climate change, its current impacts and the solutions you can be involved in. Led by Sandy Spears of 350.org (http://world.350.org/houston/350 Houston) and sponsored by First UU Climate Action Team, this informative Climate Reality presentation will be followed by opportunities to network, explore questions, determine your next steps and visit over Valentines goodies in Channing Hall. The gathering will be held on February 14, 2016, 1-3pm at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston. Childcare is available upon request. For more information or to volunteer, contact [email protected] or climateaction-firstuu.org. www.hpjc.org
  4. Terry Hershey Bayou Stewardship Award. Each year, the Terry Hershey Bayou Stewardship Award recognizes a member in the community who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to aiding in the conservation, preservation, restoration and/or advocacy of Houston’s waterways. BPA co-founder, Terry Hershey, inspired the inception of the awards because of her tireless and outstanding dedication to halting the Army corps of Engineers from channelizing and concreting Buffalo Bayou in the 1960s along with then-Congressman George H.W. Bush and developer George Mitchell. This year, the winner will be announced at Bayou Preservation Association’s 50th Anniversary Luncheon on May 9th. To nominate an individual for the prestigious Terry Hershey Bayou Stewardship Award, visit www.bayoupreservation.org. Please turn in nomination forms by February 15, 2016, by email to [email protected] or by fax to (713) 529-6481.
  5. CWI: Emerging Technology in Wastewater Treatment. The next CWI workshop will be held on February 16, 2016, from 1:30-3:30pm. Speakers from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority and Adurra Group will discuss current trends and emerging technologies in wastewater treatment, as well as answer audience questions. Register at https://events.r20.constantcontact.com.
  6. Abandoned/Lost Crab Trap Meeting. Abandoned or lost crab traps endanger the lives of a variety of organisms. That’s why GBF will be talking about issues that come along with these traps at the next membership meeting. The same meeting will be held in two locations. The first meeting will be held on February 16, 2016, at the Houston Zoo. The second meeting will be held on February 17, 2016, at Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook. Both meetings will be held from 6-7:30pm. THen on February 20, 2016, GBF will lead the Abandoned Crab Trap Removal event. Volunteers on land will help unload and smash traps, and volunteers on the water will help pull traps from the bay. Volunteers of all ages are welcome. For more information about the event or to become involved, contact Emily Ford at [email protected] or by calling 281.322.3381 x207. Learn more at http://galvbay.org.
  7. Houston Green Film Series: Streetfilms. The next film of the Houston Green Film Series will be shown on February 17, 2016, at 6:30-9pm. The movie, Streetfilms, is an offshoot of Streetsblog, a national daily news source that connects hundreds of thousands of readers from around the country to the movement to transform transportation and land use policy in the U.S. to make our cities and communities more livable, sustainable and safe. Clarence Eckerson, Streetfilms Director, travels the globe capturing the transformation taking place on the ground and the challenges our American cities still face. Free to the public, though $5 donations are kindly appreciated.
  8. Working with TxDOT to Implement Pedestrian/Bicycle Improvements: Projects, Process and People. Representatives from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will provide information on a variety of issues related to pedestrian and bicycle planning in our region. Participants will learn how TxDOT plans for pedestrians and cyclists, hear about proposed and completed pedestrian/bicycle projects sponsored by TxDOT, get tips on how to navigate TxDOT’s funding and contracting processes, and meet TxDOT representatives working in our communities. This meeting will be held on February 18, 2015, 9:30-11:30am at the H-GAC offices. This event is free, and pre-registration is not required. For more information, contact via email at [email protected] or by phone at 832-681-2598.
  9. GINTC’s Galveston Sea Turtle Saturday. Before the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles head to the Galveston beaches for nesting season this spring, make plans to learn about these fascinating creatures at Sea Turtle Saturday on February 20, 2016, at an informative and engaging seminar presented by the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council (GINTC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).Participants will learn about sea turtle research, rehabilitation, stranding response, and conservation from a variety of presentations by esteemed scientists and experts from NOAA Fisheries Service, the Houston Zoo, Inc., Turtle Island Restoration Network, and TAMUG. The event concludes with a unique tour of the island’s own sea turtle barn, where more than 350 turtles are housed in saltwater tanks. Event registration is $10 to cover the cost of a continental breakfast. Register online at www.GalvestonNatureTourism.org.
  10. HANC Spring Break Camp. Registration is now open for HANC’s Spring Break Camp, March 14-18, 2016, for children ages 5-12. The theme this year is “MicroWorld.” There are more microscopic organisms than all other living things combined. With “MicroWorld,” participants can tunnel down into the forest floor and take a look at the tiny creatures that live in the soil. Dive into a drop of water and find out what swims unseen. Students will learn about the world around us starting with the smallest of the small. Fees for Houston Arboretum members for the week are $145 for a half day (9am-noon) and $275 for a full day (9am-3pm). Non-members will pay $190 for a half day and $340 for a full day. http://houstonarboretum.org.
  11. The Grassroots for Change Challenge: A Conservation Challenge for Houston Universities. The Grassroots for Change Challenge is a friendly competition aimed at raising funds to transform parts of Rice University, University of Houston, and the University of St. Thomas into vibrant pocket prairies. These pocket prairies will provide great habitat for pollinators (like monarch butterflies and native bees), provide a living laboratory for student research, and give campus visitors, students, and faculty a better sense of Houston and its rich history. The challenge is also about engaging, inspiring, and connecting students at each instution to assist one another in the mission of creating more sustainable and beautiful landscapes on their campuses. We have one planet and we should all work together to preserve it. A big goal of this fundraiser is to assist in the restoration of the Rice Gully Natural Area at Rice University, build the new Shasta Prairie at UH (during Earth Week 2016), and transform an empty lot at St. Thomas into a living, breathing laboratory for undergraduates. Learn more and donate at www.crowdrise.com.
  12. Regional Recycling Roundtable – Making Collection Easy: Pharmaceuticals and Textiles. Many people won’t recycle or properly dispose of dangerous materials if it isn’t easy for them. Luckily, there are companies that are making collection easier for residents. Come out to the Regional Recycling Roundtable on February 25, 2016, 10am-noon at the H-GAC offices, to hear from Sonny Wilkins with Simple Recycling as he discusses curbside textile recycling and Jan Harris with Sharps, Inc. as she discusses pharmaceutical collection options now available. For more information or to RSVP please contact Erin Livingston at 832-681-2525 or [email protected]
  13. Public Comment Meeting for Jarbo Bayou. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has scheduled a meeting to take public comment on a project to reduce bacteria and protect recreational safety in Jarbo Bayou in Galveston County. The stakeholders and the TCEQ are developing a total maximum daily load (TMDL) and an implementation plan, which together will be the road map for improving water quality. The comment meeting is open to the public and is scheduled for February 25, 2016, at 6pm at the Clear Lake Shores Club House, (931 Cedar Street, Clear Lake Shores). At the meeting, individuals have the opportunity to present oral statements when called upon in order of registration. An agency staff member will give a brief presentation at the start of the meeting and will be available to answer questions before and after all public comments have been received. www.tceq.texas.gov
  14. City Efficiency Leaders Workshop for Houston-Galveston Communities. This workshop, open to all cities and towns in the Houston-Galveston region, will present the findings from two years of research and engagement with Texas cities working to identify best practices in energy and water efficiency. This workshop will provide an opportunity to share this material with cities across the Houston-Galveston region with the intent of driving greater understanding of energy and water efficiency opportunities. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to learn from city experts and implementers that have successfully implemented projects across the state. The free workshop will be held on March 3, 2016, 10am-2pm. www.eventbrite.com
  15. GBF Rain Barrel Workshop. It’s that time of year again– so start gearing up for Rain Barrel Workshop Season! Galveston Bay Foundation’s Rain Barrel Program works to conserve water and reduce stormwater runoff, pollution, and bacteria entering Galveston Bay. Each workshop is a unique and personal experience hosted by GBF’s Water Quality Team in partnership with local organizations and cities. Workshops consist of a presentation on the environmental benefits of collecting rainwater and proper rain barrel installation instructions and tips. Galveston Bay Foundation’s first rain barrel workshop of the year will be in Baytown, TX at the Eddie V. Gray Wetlands and Education Center on March 5, 2016. The cost is $35 which includes workshop admission, a recycled 35-gallon barrel (a $75 value), and a RainRecycle connector kit (a $25 value). Workshop registrees can purchase a maximum of 2 barrels + 2 kits. Learn more and register at http://galvbay.org.
  16. Down Under, Out Yonder. What are corals?  How do they build reefs?  Why are the coral reefs of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico so special and unique?  What does all this have to do with the National Marine Sanctuary System? These are just a few of the questions that will be answered through this interactive, resource-rich 5-day workshop.  Educators of all levels will walk away from the experience with the means to actively involve their students in the learning process, expose them to scientific research, and share personal experiences about the challenges of field work. Participants will receive a multitude of resources, activities, materials, and ideas for implementation of topics in biology, oceanography, geology, physical science, American government and environmental science. The workshop will be held July 9-13, 2016, at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. However, applications are due by March 5, 2016. Learn more an download the application at http://flowergarden.noaa.gov.
  17. Changing Circumstances: Through the Lens of the Gulf of Mexico. Artist Boat is proud to announce that they collaborated with FotoFest International to develop the companion curriculum for this years FotoFest International Exhibitions “Changing Circumstances.” The Biennial, opening March 12, 2016, in Houston, Texas, is focused on humanity’s relationship with the changing planet. This theme will be explored in a series of exhibitions, videos, films, books and educational programs with over 30 leading international artists, scientists, and environmental experts. Your classroom is invited to be a vital participant in these discussions by utilizing the FotoFest 2016 Biennial Curriculum. Developed by FotoFest’s education program Literacy Through Photography in partnership with the art and ecology organization Artist Boat, the FotoFest 2016 Biennial curriculum uses the Gulf of Mexico as a case study for looking at three main issues: climate change, the globalization of natural resources, and the impact of new technologies. The curriculum has been developed for students grades 5-8 and is easily adaptable for all ages. Aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards for science and fine arts, the lessons are an innovative blend of hands-on science activities and student-directed arts projects, providing students with creative pathways to learning about these important global issues. The curriculum culminates in a student-driven capstone service project engaging students in real-world action in their communities. By utilizing the CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES curriculum, your students will be invited to exhibit their projects in FotoFest’s annual exhibition of student art, FotoFinish, the be held May 14-21, 2016, in FotoFest’s Silver Street Studio gallery. Download the FotoFest 2016 Biennial Curriculum and learn more at http://home.fotofest.org.

COMMUNITY NOTES

  1. 2016 Hot Air Topics. The Gulf Coast Chapter, based in Houston, Texas, is the local chapter of the Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA), a non-profit, nonpartisan technical, scientific and educational organization with more than 14,000 members in 65 countries. Founded in 1907, A&WMA provides a forum where all viewpoints of an environmental issue (technical, scientific, economic, social, political and risk assessment) receive consideration. This worldwide network represents many disciplines: physical and social sciences, health and medicine, engineering and law. A&WMA attracts decision-makers from agencies, industry, business and the academic and research communities. The conference will be held on February 11, 2016, at the Hilton Westchase. Learn more at http://awma-gcc.org.
  2. Cypress Creek Greenway Ribbon Cutting and Tree Planting. Harris County Precinct 4 is organizing a ribbon cutting for the first section of the Cypress Creek Greenway. After the ribbon cutting, they have acquired 400 trees to plant along the Greenway. The event will be held on February 12, 2016, at 9am. Wear gloves, work boots, and long pants. http://ghorba.org
  3. Kleb Woods: Native Plants to Build into Your Habitat. Native plants conserve water and are valuable wildlife resources. To use them effectively you want to pick plants native to your area. Kleb Woods Nature Preserve will host a native plants class on February 12, 2016, 10am-noon. In this class, participants will discuss plants in this area that may be suitable for your backyard. The class will also cover how to limit the use of non-natives in meeting specific habitat goals. There is no need to register; just show up. For more information, contact (281) 357-5324 or e-mail us at [email protected]
  4. Great Backyard Bird Count. To participate in this citizen science project, simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, February 12-15, 2016, Friday through Monday. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world! Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time. If you’re new to the count, first register online http://gbbc.birdcount.org and then enter your checklist. If you have already participated in another Cornell Lab citizen-science project, you can use your existing login. Enter your results on the GBBC website by clicking “Submit Observations” on the home page. Or download the free eBird Mobile app to enter data on a mobile device. If you already participate in the eBird citizen-science project, please use eBird to submit your sightings during the GBBC. Your checklists will count toward the GBBC. Learn more at http://txmn.org.
  5. 2016 HAUFC Tree Planting Competition. Celebrate Valentine’s Day by Planting a Tree (or 100)! The Houston Area Urban Forestry Council, Harris County Flood Control District, Texas A&M Forest Service and CenterPoint Energy are once again sponsoring the Houston Regional Tree Planting Competition to be held in conjunction with local Arbor Day celebrations. Each team will consist of 10 planting members and a non-working captain and scoring will be based not only on time, but also on correct hole depth/width, mulching, planting techniques, etc. The Houston Area Urban Forestry Council will be supplying the judges and timers for the event. The competition will be held on February 13, 2016 at HCFCD Retention Basin (7600 W Little York Rd). Learn more: http://haufc.org
  6. Panel Discussion on Laudato Si. The public is invited to attend a panel discussion on Laudato Si, the encyclical by Pope Francis addressing environmental stewardship. The panel discussion takes place in the Crooker Center at the University of St. Thomas on February 17, 2016 from 5:30-8pm. The event opens with an overview of Laudato Si at 6pm, followed by panelists addressing each of 4 aspects of the encyclical: science & technology, theology, policy, and ecological education. Time for questions and answers will be available after the panelists have concluded their remarks. Refreshments will be offered. The Crooker Center is located at 3909 Graustark. Parking is available in the university parking garage for $5, and Metro buses 82 and 25 stop nearby. For more information, see the university calendar.
  7. Telluride MountainFilm Festival in Houston. Telluride Mountainfilm Festival returns to Asia Society for the fourth year in a row to showcase the power of films and ideas to motivate audiences to become champions of change to help make the world a better place. The festival will be held February 19-20, 2016. This two-day event includes a dynamic spectrum of content from full-length documentaries, powerful short films, and avant garde animation, to adrenaline flicks and panel discussions. Mountainfilm reaches over 40,000 people at 100 locations on five continents, generating energy and inspiration, hope and exhilaration, love and tears. Come out to enjoy delicious foods, drinks, and the very best thought-provoking and exciting documentaries on the planet! This film festival is designed so local audiences can experience the most inspiring documentary film festival on the planet. Whether it’s a 3-minute adrenaline rush short or a thought-provoking full feature film, ICEtalk films are the most moving ever. Learn more at http://asiasociety.org and www.icetalks.org.
  8. 2016 TWCA Annual Convention. The annual TWCA Convention will be held March 2-4, 2016, at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel. As in previous years, there will be speaker sessions on Wednesday afternoon, Thursday afternoon, and Friday morning. The Wednesday afternoon sessions will be presented by TWCA’s Water Quality Committee and Water Laws Committee. There will also be panel and committee meetings, as well as the Board meeting, on Thursday morning. As usual, multiple networking opportunities will be included throughout the program, including a luncheon on Thursday, a reception and dinner on Thursday evening, and numerous coffee breaks throughout the conference. More at https://twca.formstack.com.
  9. Application Workshops for RESTORE Funds. Workshops to assist in completing the required application to apply for RESTORE Direct Component (Bucket 1) funds through the Request for Grant Applications (RFGA) will be held on March 3, 2016, from 2:30-4pm and 6:30-8pm at the H-GAC offices. Applications for RESTORE Direct Component (Bucket 1) grants must be submitted at www.restorethetexascoast.org no later than 5:00 pm on Friday, April 15, 2016.
  10. Texas Trails & Active Transportation Conference. Houston is one of the fastest-improving cities in the United States for trails and active transportation. The TTAT Conference will bring together those involved with bicycle, pedestrian, and other active transportation and recreation modes from around Texas and the world with the goals of sharing current information and examples, and sparking inspiration to continue striving to make things better in each of our communities. The conference will focus on issues of economic development, health, safety, and many other topics relevant to advancing active transportation and trails. This conference will be held March 9-11, 2016 at the Houston Marriott Medical Center. Learn more at http://texastrails.biketexas.org.
  11. Leading with Landscape II: The Houston Transformation Conference. How is the nation’s 4th largest city reshaping its identity through landscape architecture? What are the international implications of Houston’s bold planning and development strategy? What role can public-private partnerships play in urban park stewardship in the 21st-century? Houston—the country’s fourth largest city—is known for being car-centric and zoning-averse. Now, however, it is undergoing a monumental landscape architecture-led transformation whose scale and impact could fundamentally change the city and influence city-shaping around the globe. World-class projects by leading practitioners will be the focus of a daylong conference, accompanied by What’s Out There Weekend Houston, featuring two days of free, expert-led tours. Leading with Landscape II: The Houston Transformation, which features three consecutive moderated panel discussions, will tackle numerous issues, including those that deal with the city’s identity. The roster of speakers includes internationally significant private-sector practitioners working on current and proposed projects in Houston, as well as municipal leaders, academics, and leading critics and thinkers. The first two panels will examine completed projects and ongoing projects, respectively, and will assess the influences of culture, history, and ecology in the evolving Houston cityscape. The final panel will provide a comprehensive appraisal of the projects and issues presented and will consider their implications for city-shaping. This conference will be held March 11-13, 2016. Learn more at http://tclf.org.
  12. Additional Dates of Note.
  13. 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, Texas City, Galveston, 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.
    • 112 Million Years in the Making
    • Mueller Fish & Cook
    • Parks & Wildlife People: Brian Van Zee
    • Producer’s Favorites: Dave Alloway Survival Tips