Houston Environmental News Update March 8, 2017

Scroll down to read notes from our member organizations and the community, or view the emailed version of the newsletter, which includes a Texas legislative update and green job listings.

CEC is pleased to welcome the Levy Park Conservancy as one of CEC’s newest member organizations. The photograph above is from the recent Grand (re)Opening of Levy Park. The Conservancy took great care to preserve many of the beautiful live oak trees that have been on the site for decades–even moving some of them to accommodate park features. One of the highlights of the park is an elevated observation deck that puts you up in the tree canopy.
For old friends of the CEC, you may remember the Houston Environmental Center, which was in a building, since demolished, adjacent to the park. Starting in the mid 90’s until about eight years ago, CEC leased the second floor of the Upper Kirby District Building and sublet to various environmental organizations. Some of these organizations, including Katy Prairie Conservancy, Memorial Park Conservancy, and Houston Tomorrow got their start in the HEC, continuing CEC’s long history of supporting the environmental community. Many of the offices in the HEC overlooked the park and community gardens. The new park retains elements of that community garden, with accessible raised beds, an orchard, and a composting facility.
If you haven’t visited yet, I encourage you to do so. March is a fabulous time to visit parks, so take advantage of the opportunity and get outdoors.


Earth Day Houston 2017

Dozens of Earth Day festivals will be held throughout the Houston area in 2017. We have begun compiling a list of Earth Month events on our calendar.

If you are hosting an Earth Month event (or any environment-related event), please be sure to let us know so we can share it! Information can be sent to [email protected]

Don’t miss our Environmental Trivia Contest at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, to be hosted by the CEC as part of Earth Month Houston, on April 30, 2017. Tickets will be available soon.

The CEC is also gearing up for the following year’s Earth Day, and is recruiting members for our Earth Day Houston 2018 Planning Committee. Join us at a planning meeting on May 11, 2017. To become a part of this exciting event, contact Marina Rossow, Program Manager, at 713-524-4232 or [email protected]


  1. Resilience H2Ouston: Living in Flood Plains
    This civic forum, hosted by the Rice Design Alliance, will be held Wednesday, March 8, 2017, at 6p.m. at the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion inside the McGovern Centennial Gardens at Hermann Park. It is free and open to the public. Moderated by Eric Berger, certified meteorologist, the forum features the following presenters:

    • Alisa Max, PE, General Services Division Manager, Harris County Engineering Department
    • David Robinson, Houston City Council At-Large Position #2
    • Keiji Asakura, Principal Designer, Asakura Robinson
    • Wesley Highfield, Associate Professor, Department of Marine Sciences, Texas A&M University at Galveston
    • Ed Wolff, President, Beth Wolff Realtors
  2. HARC People & Nature Speaker Series: Dr. Katherine Hayhoe
    On March 8, 2017, HARC will continue its People & Nature Speaker Series with an event at Museum Fine Arts, Houston Brown Auditorium featuring an evening with Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, associate professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. Dr. Hayhoe is a nationally renowned climate scientist who works to bridge the gap between the complex science and public misconceptions about climate change. She has been named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People, Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers, and has been featured on the National Geographic television series, Years of Living Dangerously. Dr. Hayhoe exemplifies the goal of HARC’s People & Nature Speaker Series: to illuminate and facilitate discussions on regional sustainability issues, ranging from climate mitigation and adaptation, sustainable water use, and the energy. We hope that you will join us on March 8th for a thought provoking and engaging discussion of climate change, how it could affect the greater Houston region, and what we can and should do about it.
  3. League of Women Voters Annual Repast Luncheon
    Join the League of Women Voters of the Houston Area on Friday, March 10, 2017, for an entertaining and illuminating program as Moderator Ernie Manouse takes honorees Judge Theresa Chang and Judge Phyllis Frye on a conversational stroll through their lives in public service. Learn more and purchase tickets at lwvhouston.org/repast-2017/.
  4. Volunteer Workday at TNC’s Texas City Prairie Preserve
    Looking for a way to get back to nature and get your hands dirty?  Volunteer for The Nature Conservancy!  TNC is hosting volunteer workdays the second Friday of every month at its Texas City Prairie Preserve, a 2300-acre hidden gem south of Houston, in Texas City.  Workdays will include a variety of activities, from removing invasive species and harvesting native seeds to planting marsh grasses and tending the butterfly garden.  It’s all fun – and all a big help!  If you have questions or would like more information, please go to http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/texas/events/tcpp-volunteer-workdays.xml, or contact Adriane Arnold at [email protected].
  5. 45th Annual Buffalo Bayou Partnership Regatta
    On March 11, 2017, join Buffalo Bayou Partnership for Texas’ largest canoe and kayak race – the 45th Annual Buffalo Bayou Partnership Regatta presented by Gillman Subaru. Paddlers, ages 12 and up, are encouraged to participate in the 15-mile race along the scenic Buffalo Bayou. Whether you are entering competitively or paddling for pleasure, you won’t want to miss out on this longstanding Houston tradition! Those not wanting to paddle can cheer on racers along the race route or catch the outdoor fun at the free finish line festivities at Sesquicentennial Park (500 block of Preston Street). Learn more at buffalobayou.org.
  6. March Mart at Mercer Botanic Gardens
    March Mart is a plant sale sponsored by The Mercer Society, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) volunteer organization. The sale is open on Friday, March 17, and Saturday, March 18, 2017, with special additional shopping hours just for members. The plant sale proceeds support special projects and educational programs at Mercer Botanic Gardens. One of the Texas Gulf Coast area’s largest and most anticipated horticultural events, the sale attracts amateur and expert gardeners alike. March Mart features more than 1,000 varieties of quality plants, including native plants, rarely found at local retail nurseries. Exhibits by local garden clubs and organizations allow gardeners with similar interests to share ideas and information. The event is conducted by hundreds of volunteers and experts who will be on hand to answer horticultural and gardening questions. Throughout the year, dozens of volunteers labor to select the plants sold at March Mart, raising many of the plants from seeds, plugs, or cuttings, often from Mercer’s own plant collections. Learn more on the Mercer Botanic Gardens’ March Mart website. 
  7. Water Wise Bay Cities Challenge
    The Water Wise Bay Cities Challenge is a friendly water conservation competition open to 20 cities in the Bay area (southeastern Houston) and their residents. Beginning February 23, 2107, Bay-area cities’ residents may enter the challenge for a chance to win a prize by “taking the pledge” on behalf of their cities, and selecting a pledge level based on the amount of water desired to be conserved per day. To enter, visit www.gbwb.org/water-wise-bay-cities-challenge/. The competition will be open until 12 p.m. on May 10, 2017. The winning cities and residents will be announced at GBF’s Bay Day event in Kemah, Texas on May 13, 2017.
  8. Gulf Coast Green Symposium
    AIA Houston’s annual Gulf Coast Green conference is the leading green building conference in the region. This year’s conference focuses on The Science of Sustainability and will take place at the Health Museum on Monday, March 27, 2017. Learn more at Gulf Coast Green.
  9. Kinder Institute “Near-Miss” Study
    The Kinder Institute for Urban Research wants to understand the challenges experience by pedestrians and bicyclists and provide opportunities for residents to report daily travel challenges, including near-miss incidents. Get a chance to win a $100 gift card by recording your trip and near-miss for 7 consecutive days — weekends included! Learn more and register at kinder.rice.edu/NearMiss, and participate in a training with BikeHouston.
  10. Free Fourth Grade Field Trips!
    Every Kid in a Park in the Houston area is offering FREE transportation for nature-based learning opportunities. Learn more at www.hereinhouston.org.
  11. Rain Barrels and Compost Bins at Truckload Prices
    The Green Building Resource Center will help area residents conserve water and resources by offering 50-gallon rain barrels and 65-gallon compost bins at discounted prices of just $69.00 and $65.00. Made from recycled material, they come with instructions for easy set-up and use. Order online by Sunday, May 7, 2017 at www.rainbarrelprogram.org/Houston. Then visit the Houston Permitting Center in the West Parking lot to pick up your items between 10:00 am and noon on Saturday, May 13, 2017. Visit www.greenhoustontx.gov.
  12. Need tools for Cleanups and Planting?
    The Houston Community ToolBank is a nonprofit tool lending program serving other nonprofits by putting high-quality tools in the hands of the volunteers who are painting schools, repairing seniors’ roofs, landscaping public spaces, and more−guaranteeing that every volunteer is equipped with the tools they need to get the job done.For three pennies on the dollar, the Houston Community ToolBank provides fast and easy access to large volumes of high-quality tools to increase the impact of service projects and community revitalization efforts. Visit www.houstontoolbank.org.
  13. Additional Upcoming Events


  1. Public meetings for the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas (NFGT) Forest Plan (FP) revision
    The U.S. Forest Service (FS), begins a four-year process to revise the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas (NFGT) Forest Plan (FP). The first of six public meeting is on March 20, 2017, and the last is April 6, 2017. Check the CEC calendar for other dates and locations.Some of the issues to bring-up at public meetings include special management areas; red-cockaded Woodpecker management; reduction in oil/gas development; climate change management; trail corridor protection; prescribed burning; snags/downed trees; solitude, quiet, and natural sounds; urban effects; and non-native species. Whether you can or cannot attend the public meetings, please use one or more of the 10 issues mentioned above to write a personal letter or email to the U.S. Forest Service which expresses your opinion regarding the plan. Send your letter or email to Mr. Robert Potts, NFGT, 2221 North Raguet, Lufkin, Texas 75904 or [email protected]. You can learn more at www.fs.usda.gov.
  2. Galveston Bay Status and Trends Atlas updated
    Whether you live on the shore of the bay, Galveston Island, or on the west side of Houston, the Houston-Galveston region is defined by its coastal location and proximity to Galveston Bay. Certain aspects of Galveston Bay and the surrounding watershed can be examined to assess the overall health of the complex bay ecosystem – these are referred to as Indicators of Bay Health. Important indicators of bay health include water and sediment quality, populations of native and nonnative fish and wildlife, quantity and quality of diverse habitats, and the amount of freshwater flowing into the bay. Information describing the indicators of bay health is routinely gathered by many agencies and organizations at the federal, state, and local level. The Galveston Bay Status and Trends project gathers, manages, and analyzes the data and makes them available through one website. The GIS map has recently been improved and updated, and the Program invites you to explore the data available at www.texascoastalatlas.com.
  3. 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.
    • Say Cheese: See some of the wildlife that is attracted to man-made watering holes in the Trans Pecos.
    • Blue Suckers: Follow some biologists as the search for the rare blue sucker fish in the Colorado River near Austin.
    • Nature Photos: Experience man in nature through the eyes of Texas Parks and Wildlife photographers.
  4. Additional Upcoming Events