I’m sure all of you know that Friday is United Nations Public Service Day. The UN Public Service Day celebrates the value and virtue of public service to the community; highlights the contribution of public service in the development process; recognizes the work of public servants, and encourages young people to pursue careers in the public sector.
We rely on public servants to preserve our environment and protect our quality of life, and we join the UN in celebrating them and their work.
CEC has been excited to have, over the past few years, a handful of amazing interns helping us review the work of some local public servants. Currently, summer intern Andrea Zamora is reviewing Houston City Council agendas for items pertaining to the environment, and will be reporting on agendas of the Texas Railroad Commission (whose June 27 meeting has been cancelled, and whose next commission meeting is scheduled for August). She’s taking over for Kelly Clifford, who has accepted a prestigious internship with a US Representative, but who is still following an open records request to the RRC regarding agenda items about two letters to the EPA about the Federal Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. We are curious. Are you?
Some of favorite public servants right now are at NOAA, the National Oceanographc and Atmospheric Administration. They’ve been busy tracking Tropical Storm Cindy for us. They’ve also got fascinating reports on the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone, predicted to be the largest ever this year; excessive heat; global fish crime; the second warmest year to date; global coral bleaching; how to identify, avoid, and hopefully survive a rip tide; and 30 Days of Ocean. NOAA just celebrated Sea Turtle Week, and that’s where our header photo comes from: a story on the Sea Turtle Early Restoration Project. Developed to help restore turtle populations affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, this project is a collaboration between NOAA, the Department of Interior, and the State of Texas.
Environment Matters: Katie Jones, American Lung Association, Houston Office
On Tuesday, June 27, 2017, at 6:00 pm, join the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (CEC) at Axelrad for Environment Matters, a monthly gathering for anyone interested in the environment. This month, Katie Jones, the executive Director of the Houston Office of the American Lung Association, will share information about the Houston region’s grade in the ALA State of the Air Report. Grab a seat & beverage for an inclusive and interactive get together. Learn from experts, find out about local events, and enjoy the fun! If you are new to the Houston environmental community, this will be a great event to connect. Sign up for updates on facebook.
Halfway through each year (and again at the end of the year), we like asking our readers to tell us what they might put on a top-ten list of the most important things impacting the environment in the Houston region this year. Here’s what we’ve got so far (in no particular order):
- Passing the City of Houston Bike Plan
- Preventing the Texas Legislature’s ban on local reusable bag regulations
- Trump pulling US out of Paris Climate Accord
- Toxic Substance Control Act is updated and called The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act
- San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund 100% removal of dioxin proposed
- People’s Climate March (and Women’s March & Science March)
- Climate change & related flooding/storm surge threat
- Threat of widening of I45, which is proposed to cover Little White Oak and impose even greater air quality, noise pollution, and lack of connectivity burdens on a large, mostly disadvantaged part of Houston
- Legislative effort to remove municipalities’ ability to regulate local issues such as tree preservation that are essential to combating urban heat island effect
- Trump Administration Proposes Steep EPA Budget Cuts (more information available on the website of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies)
You are welcome to add information at any time during the year, and we will be asking again at the end of the year. Curious about past suggestion? Check out 2016 results.
Greater Houston Environmental Summit & Environmental Education Expo
Annually, CEC hosts a networking and learning event for the extraordinary people who work at or are interested in the work of environmental organizations in the greater Houston region. In 2017, CEC will be hosting the Greater Houston Environmental Summit on Friday, August 4, 2017, from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm at the Community Resource Center at the United Way of Greater Houston. In addition to excellent keynote presentations and panels, we will again offer small-format table talks. We will feature a panel in conjunction with EarthShare of Texas, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. We are partnering with a variety of environmental education collaboratives to offer an Environmental Education Expo for teachers and informal educators. If you are interested in exhibiting at the EE Expo, please contact [email protected] We’re taking suggestions & proposals for the table talks, so if you have an issue you’d like to learn about or share with the environmental community, drop us a line at [email protected].
Earth Day Houston 2018
Thank you to everyone who joined us to discuss Earth Day Houston 2018. The next meeting will be on Wednesday, July 21, 2017, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Community Resource Center of the United Way of Greater Houston. To learn more or be added to the mailing list, please contact [email protected]
CEC is pleased to be a beneficiary in the Reliant EcoShare Program, a way that Texans can support the CEC and offset their own carbon production at the same time. Reliant and EarthShare of Texas have launched a program that allows Reliant customers to help reduce their carbon footprints through the purchase of carbon offsets. And for each customer-purchased offset, Reliant will make a contribution to EarthShare of Texas and its participating organizations, including CEC! For more information, visit the EcoShare webpage.
COALITION & COMMUNITY NOTES
- The Urban Harvest Edible Academy Summer Workshop
The Edible Academy Workshop will be held at Gregory-Lincoln Education Center, 1101 Taft St. and will provide educators, youth garden coordinators and parents with hands-on lessons, techniques and curriculum for using your school garden and Outdoor Classroom as exciting educational tools. Numerous studies show that children will try new foods, make healthier food choices and remain more active when involved in a school garden. The surging interest in school gardens has shown a need for professional development in gardening techniques that merge with standard curriculum. Participants will explore lessons in gardening and culinary arts that support TEKS objectives in the core subjects, making learning memorable and tasty too! Today, June 21, 2017 at 8:00 AM and Thursday, June 22, 2017, at 3:00 PM, come get your hands dirty and see how we can implement more school gardens!
- Summer Solstice at the Cistern
Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s young professionals group, Bayou Buddies, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Art Crowd invite you to Summer Solstice at the Cistern 105 Sabine St. tonight from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Enjoy complimentary wine and beer from St. Arnold Brewing Company while DJ Felix spins Summer tunes. Food will be available for purchase from popular food trucks. Make it a summer you won’t forget and get your tickets at buffalobayou.org.
CCFCC Board of Directors MeetingToday, June 21, 2017, the Cypress Creek Flood Control Coalition is having their monthly meeting at 7:00 PM, which is held every third Wednesday of the month. These meetings focus on the key mission statement goals and issues listed in their “Charter,” including flood damage mitigation, deforestation and reforestation, preservation of floodplains and related areas, other environmental concerns, and the development of the Cypress Creek Greenway. Join in on the conversation at the Lake Forest Utility District and get more information at www.ccfcc.org.
- Party on the Plaza with Discovery Green
Every Wednesday night in June, the plaza at Avenida Houston will be transformed for free concerts showcasing local and regional artists! Concerts will take place across from Discovery Green on the Plaza in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center from 5:00 to 9:00 PM. Two groups will perform each night on the Bud Light stage along with activities and more! 104.1 KRBE will be live from Party on the Plaza every Wednesday with on-air personalities and giveaways. Be sure to get to arrive early to enjoy games and meet the DJs. Visit www.discoverygreen.com for more information on their lineup and drink specials!
- Behind the Design of the McGovern Centennial Gardens
Hermann Park Conservancy and Rice Design Alliance are collaborating to bring you a special summer event at the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion and McGovern Centennial Gardens with guest speaker Doug Hoerr of Hoerr Schaudt, who received the design commission in 2009 for the McGovern Centennial Gardens. Doug along with James Patterson of White Oak Studio, the landscape architect of record, will share highlights of how architecture and horticulture came together in the design of the Gardens. To learn more about this event coming up on Thursday, June 22, 2017, at 7:30 PM, or to purchase tickets, visit hermannpark.org.
Exploration Green Conservancy Volunteer Meeting
Join the great volunteer team developing Clear Lake’s public 200-acre recreation, conservation and flood control green space. Come to our Volunteer Recruitment meeting Thursday, June 22, 2017, at 7:00 PM at the Clear Lake Library, 1st Floor Meeting Room, to find out about volunteering with Exploration Green Conservancy. Exploration Green Conservancy is reaching out to local residents to help: 1) Plan Exploration Green’s park amenities such as hike and bike trails, and 2) Support public relations, event planning and activities, volunteer coordination and environmental education and financial management. Learn about current EG operations and plans and how you can help develop this history-making Green Space and its activities. This meeting is focused on planning and administrative volunteer work develop plans for EG amenities and facilities, while ongoing landscaping, nursery and wetlands volunteer work days are identified at www.ExplorationGreen.org.
- Opossum and Pal Program
The Opossum and Pals Program (or OPP) is a newer addition to Texas Wildlife Rehab Coalition’s onsite animal care programs. Onsite animal care provides relief to our rehabbers when they need a break or go on vacation. It also allows continued placement of animals when rehabbers are at capacity or can no longer accept wildlife for care. The OPP’s primary residents consist mainly of opossums; however, there are also doves that require care and tube-feeding. Other animals may be housed in the program until they are placed with a rehabber or are ready for release back into the wild. No rabies vector species will be allowed in the program. For new volunteers, the next orientation will take place Saturday, June 24, 2017. To register for the orientation or the next OPP, visit twrcwildlifecenter.org.
- Houston Zoo Presents Pollinator Palooza
Celebrate Pollination Week with the Houston Zoo! Pollinators help plants complete their life cycle by moving pollen from one plant to another. This is a very important process if you like any of the following things – chocolate, fruits, ice cream, and even tequila! Celebrate these miracle workers during Pollinator Palooza Presented by Whole Foods Market. Talk to local bee keepers, learn about the different types of pollinators, and check out our pollination stations! Don’t miss the ladybug release at the Butterfly Garden near the John P. McGovern Children’s Zoo. This event is included in your Zoo admission on Saturday & Sunday, June 24 – 25, 2017, and is free for Zoo Members. Check out their Q&A on butterflies and other pollinators, and to get your tickets for this weekend, visit www.houstonzoo.org.
- Putting a Price on Nature: Should We?
Christ the King Evangelical Lutheran Church in Houston invites you to attend Sunday Evening Conversations on Creation, an environmental education web meeting series whose theme in 2017 is Connections between People and Nature. On Monday, June 26, 2017, join in on the web meeting at 6:00 PM and welcome Gregory R. Biddinger, Ph.D., Managing Director and Principle, Natural Land Management. Greg pioneered the concept of Natural Land Management, which integrates environmental and economic approaches to achieve sustainable performance and measurable value for landowners and the communities in which they live and operate. After Greg’s talk, there will be time for Q&A. For more information, contact Lisa Brenskelle at [email protected] or visit their event website for more information and to register for this interesting webinar!
- Launch of The Story of Buffalo Bayou Park at Brazos Bookstore
Join Buffalo Bayou Partnership on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, at 7:00 PM for a special presentation of their debut book From Rendering to Reality: The Story of Buffalo Bayou Park at Brazos Bookstore. There will be appearances by book contributors, and light snacks will be provided. The Story of Buffalo Bayou Park reveals more than 100 years of civic vision for Buffalo Bayou and highlights the numerous park plans set forth by city officials, noted architects, and urban planners over time. The pages also feature spectacular photographs of Buffalo Bayou Park, historical images, and maps, along with fascinating insights into the thoughtful design and engineering efforts behind the park’s success. Learn more about this organization at buffalobayou.org.
- Rice University Farmers Market
Spring is coming to an end and the Summer heat is rolling in. No worries, the Rice Farmers Market has you covered. The vendors have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, as well as a few cold treats, to help you get through the warm season in style. Bring a friend and have dinner at Ripe Cuisine- there’ll be so much to see and taste! The Market will be open every Tuesday from 3:30 to 6:30 PM. Save the date for their Summer Fest on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. For more information, check out their Facebook page.
- Armand Bayou Nature Center’s EcoKid Classes
The ABNC is also holding EcoKids classes for outdoor exploration, crafts & stories. These drop-off classes are held Wednesdays and Fridays for children ages 3-6 from 9:30 to 11:30 AM. Payment is required at the time of reservation: $10 for members & $12 for non-members per class. Call 713-274-2668 to make your reservation and learn more at www.abnc.org.
- HNPAT Meeting with Coastal Prairie Partnership
The Native Prairies Association of Texas (Houston Chapter) meets every 4th Wednesday of each month, and in the month of June they will be meeting with the Coastal Prairie Partnership, a private, nonprofit collaboration working to achieve common conservation and education goals. Their ultimate goal is to help foster a more connected and empowered prairie community in coastal Texas and southwest Louisiana. To join in on the conversation, attend their next meeting at the McGovern Centennial Gardens on Wednesday, June 28, 2017, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. For more on HNPAT, CPP, or the event, visit www.houstonprairie.org.
- H-GAC Transportation Public Meeting
On Thursday, June 29, 2017, from 5:30 to 7:00 PM the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) wants your opinion on the Public Participation Plan (PPP) and the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP). The PPP reflects H-GAC’s documented public involvment process for providing reasonable public access to information used in the development of the long-range Regional Transportation Plan, the Transportation Improvement Plan, and the UPWP. The UPWP outlines the proposed tasks and estimated costs associated with conducting the region’s transportation planning and research for the next two years. You can do your part by coming to the meeting, bringing a friend, and reviewing their draft documents with your comments. You can email your comments at [email protected] The meeting will take place at H-GAC Offices, 2nd Fl. Conf. Rm. B on 3555 Timmons Lane. For more information on the meeting and what the H-GAC is all about, please visit www.h-gac.com.
- Houston: A Walkable City?
Houston has long been known as a car-centric community. Over the past several years, the idea of a “walkable city” has been a hot topic in the Houston area. What does a walkable city mean? How do Houston’s development policies hinder or support walkability? Come join the conversation as the Kinder Institute for Urban Research hosts “Houston: A Walkable City?” The panel discussion will explore what Houston is doing well and where improvements are needed. This event will take place Wednesday, June 28, 2017 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM at United Way of Greater Houston on 50 Waugh Dr., so register online and save your seat!
- Stormwater Wetland Program Volunteer Opportunity
The Texas Coastal Watershed Program holds weekly volunteer days for their stormwater wetland program, 9:00 AM to noon on Thursdays. Volunteers help propagate plants in the wetland plant nursery at Exploration Green in Clear Lake City, or at the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory in Lake Jackson. The stormwater wetland program is developing demonstration projects to show how wetlands can be designed into flood control basins to clean contaminants from surface runoff, protect our bayous and bays, and provide a refuge for wildlife. A schedule and more information is available by contacting [email protected].
Bright STaRS Poster Session Abstract DeadlineK-12 students are producing quality Earth, space and ocean scientific research in summer, in-school, and after-school programs. These students are readily exposed to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math practices and are often encouraged and involved with adults and/or scientists to investigate Earth, space and ocean attributes including testing variables and monitoring the environment. The goal of this session is to give K-12 students a platform to communicate their research to scientists, educators and peers in order to gain best practice research and presentation skills. The science should be presented through art or poster format by students themselves. If you have a student that is interested in submitting an abstract, please email Elizabeth Eubanks at [email protected] with your contact information and the students’ contact information no later than Thursday, June 29, 2017, and you’ll receive further instructions thereafter. More information on the Bright STaRS Poster Session can be found on their Program Website.
- METRO’s Summer of Fun Pass
School’s out, and METRO wants to give you FREE RIDES to where the fun is – ALL SUMMER LONG! The new METRO Student Summer of Fun Pass offers K-12 students the opportunity to travel anywhere METRO goes…any time…any day…FREE. Learn more and sign up at ridemetro.org.
- Monthly Solar Energy System Workshop
On every last Friday of the month, the Houston Renewable Energy group hosts free workshops to the public. On June 30, 2017, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM, they will be addressing the basics on how to install and operate a solar system. It covers topics such as solar array types, costs of equipment and labor, permitting, energy savings, and reliability. The instructor, Bill Swann, is an expert in solar energy and has built many of his own solar systems. This workshop is ideal for all people as Bill can answer the simplest and most technical of questions, so if you want to learn more about solar, this is the workshop for you. To RSVP, email Bill Swann at [email protected], or check out their event site at houstonrenewableenergy.org.
- Asking Texas Supreme Court to Rule Against Unlawful Bag Bans
On June 16, 2017, Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Texas Supreme Court, asking the court to affirm a decision by the San Antonio Court of Appeals against unlawful bag bans. Though the case involves a Laredo ordinance, Attorney General Paxton believes that similar ordinances across Texas are unlawful. Last August, the San Antonio Court of Appeals ruled that Laredo’s ban on single-use bags is unlawful because it violates a Texas statute regulating solid waste disposal. The Texas Health and Safety Code forbids municipalities from making rules to “prohibit or restrict, for solid waste management purposes, the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law.” In December 2016, Attorney General Paxton asked the Supreme Court to review the case and affirm the San Antonio Court of Appeals’ ruling so that it can apply statewide. “Cities across Texas are failing to respect the rule of law and unlawfully passing the burden of municipal solid waste management to residents and retailers through bag bans,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Municipalities do not get to violate Texas law merely because they don’t like it. We’re asking the Texas Supreme Court to uphold the law so that the ruling can be used to invalidate similar ordinances across Texas.” The full brief can be found here.
- North Houston Highway Improvement Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement
The Federal Highway Administration via Texas Department of Transportation (TX DOT) prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed North Houston Highway Improvement Project. The proposed action includes an addition of four managed express (MAX) lanes on interstate Highway 45 (I-45) from Beltway 8 North Downtown Houston, including reconstruction of main lanes and frontage roads, and the rerouting of I-45 in Downtown area to be parallel with I-10 on the north side of Downtown and parallel with U. S. Highway (US) 59/I-69 on east side of Downtown. All the Preferred Alternatives (Sections/Segments) which meet the need and purpose for the proposed Transportation Project will have disproportionate high and adverse impacts on the minority and low-income populations/communities within the proposed project area. For the complete details of the draft, please visit the TX DOT site.
- EarthShare of Texas 25th Anniversary Round Table Discussion Series
Happy Anniversary to EarthShare of Texas!
To celebrate 25 years, EST is hosting a Round-Table Discussion Series to introduce the public to all of the great work its members have accomplished. From air quality to zebra populations, they have it covered. Learn more at earthshare-texas.org/events. Buying a ticket to the entire series will gain you entry into the following events:
- Bats, Birds, and Barbecue- A dinner discussion of wildlife and habitat conservation with a viewing of the awesome bat emergence at Bracken Bat Cave. July 29, 2017 – Bracken Cave, San Antonio.
- On the Ground Floor of Ground Water: A breakfast discussion divining the future of our most precious resource. July date tbd Redbud Center.
- The Hot Topic of Climate Change- Greater Houston Environmental Summit Aug 4, 2017 – United Way of Greater Houston–In conjunction with the CEC!
- This Land is your Land: Exploring the terrain of land conservation; Red Bud Center, October 17, 2017.
- And the grand finale picnic with food, games music and more! The whole family is welcome!
- TV: Texas Parks & Wildlife
Broadcast on KUHT Channel 8 at 3:00 p.m. 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.
- Pocket Prairies: Follow along as some Houston area school kids discover the value of native prairies.
- Catching Carp: Once maligned, carp have emerged as a much sought after sport fish, especially among European visitors.
- Meet the Greeter: Wildlife Biologist Steve Nelle helps landowners answer conservation questions.
- Additional Upcoming Events
- 7/1/17: Intro Paddling
- 7/1/17: Katy Prairie Work Day
- 7/2/17: Big Thicket Association’s Explore Your Thicket 1st Sunday Hikes
- 7/4/17: Sheldon Lake Prairie Restoration
- 7/5/17: Central City Co-Op Farmer’s Market
- 7/6/17: Stormwater Wetland Program Volunteer Opportunity
- 7/8/17: Solarize Houston Workshop
- 7/12/17: Houston Food Policy Workgroup
- 7/24/17 (deadline): Mayor’s Proud Partners Award application