Houston Environmental News Update February 3, 2016

I know. Valentine’s Day is still several days off. But have I got a Valentine’s Day gift idea for you! Two, actually.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is offering each of us the opportunity to name a roach. Really. Only 5 bucks to show your undying love (those cockroaches are hard to kill!) at the same time you support conservation efforts at the Cockrell Butterfly Center.

If you are looking for something infinitely more palatable for Valentine’s Day, consider participating in the annual Green Eggs and Kale (GEAK) fundraiser for Urban Harvest, now through the Big Day. Organizer Jeff Shell writes:

Do you like green eggs and ham?
I do not like eggs from caged hens
or hogs kept in factory pens.
I will eat green eggs from happy hens and organic kale by the bale.
I would eat them from farm to table under the label,
Green Eggs and Kale.

Participating restaurants include: Bramble, BRC, Cafe Brasil, Canopy, Canyon Creek, Cedar Creek, Cottonwood, Dry Creek, La Grange, Liberty Kitchens, Onion Creek, Raven Grill, Weights + Measures. Yum!

HMNS, Urban Harvest, and many other organizations have some great environmental events coming up, so please be sure to check the calendar on the left, below the table of contents.

CEC NOTES

  • Help Needed February 9. CEC is receiving a donation of new furniture through Green Standards on Tuesday, February 9, 2016. The furniture is supposed to arrive between 10 and noon. While the movers will unload the furniture, we sure could use some help moving the furniture into our office and rearranging! Snacks will be provided. If you are willing and available to help, please email rachel@cechouston.org. If you are a CEC member organization and are in need of office furniture (including refrigerators, a/v equipment, etc.) but do not need a full truckload of furniture, please contact rachel@cechouston.org. CEC will coordinate the needs of multiple groups.
  • New Subscribers Thank you to our new subscribers: Andre, Michelle, Mary, Yannet, Rowan, Stacy, Jeff, Lisa, Heidi, Sara, Suzette, Kelly, Stephanie, and Janis. I’d also like to welcome the many people who signed up at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour last week. We hope you enjoy our emails. Please consider liking us on facebook.
  • 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 rachel@cechouston.org.


Thank you to everyone who joined us last week at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour! Over the next several days, we will be sharing information (links to movies, volunteer opportunities, etc.) from the Festival, but we have three things to share with you now.

First, I’d like to provide links to the two local films that we showed at the festival. The Houston Zoo Wildlife Conservation Program created Saving Sea Turtles just for us, highlighting their amazing work–inside and outside of the zoo–to save our local sea turtles. The Katy Prairie Conservancy’s Flat Out Wonderful video highlights the importance of our connections to natural environments, especially the Katy Prairie.

Second, I’d like to recognize our festival sponsors. We can’t thank you enough!

Sponsors:

Door prizes have been generously provided by:

  • La Madeleine
  • Ruggles Green
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Starbucks
  • Snap Kitchen
  • Tavola Pasta
  • Blue Heron Farm
  • Sugar Land Skeeters
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Whole Earth Provision Co.
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Cafe Express

COALITION NOTES

  1. Armand Bayou Nature Center Volunteer Orientation. Armand Bayou Nature Center needs you! Experience the joy of volunteering and the satisfaction of doing important work by supporting one of this nation’s most significant habitat preserves as an Armand Bayou Nature Center volunteer. Join ABNC on February 6, 2016, or February 20, 2016, from 9am-2pm, for an overview of Armand Bayou Nature Center and the many volunteer opportunities. A schedule of the advanced training and specialized assignments will be included in the training session. Both days will include classroom and outdoor activities so please come prepared with a sack lunch and sturdy shoes. Ages 18+. To sign up, please call or email Liz VanOrstrand, ABNC Volunteer Coordinator, 281-474-2551×18 or Liz@abnc.org.
  2. Ribbon Cutting for Buffalo Bend Nature Park in Houston’s East End. Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Harris County Precinct Two cordially invite you to the Ribbon Cutting for Buffalo Bend Nature Park in Houston’s East End on February 10, 2016, 10:30am-noon (2300 S/Sgt. Macario Garcia Dr.). This unique 10-acre park, located near the Port of Houston Turning Basin, features wetland ponds, hike and bike trails, native plantings, interpretive signage and an overlook. Offering passive recreation and wildlife conservation, the site serves as a beautiful eastern trailhead along Buffalo Bayou. RSVP by February 3rd to Sylvana Loc,
    sloc@buffalobayou.org or 713.752.0314 ext. 104.
  3. Houston PACE 101. Interested in learning more about simple and effective ways to finance energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation upgrades to your existing buildings? The City of Houston is establishing a commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program to encourage private sector investment in energy efficiency and water conservation. PACE is an innovative financing program that enables private sector owners of commercial, industrial, and multi-family residential properties with five or more dwelling units to obtain low-cost, long-term loans to pay for water and energy saving retrofits and distributed generation. This workshop will provide insight into how the Houston PACE program is structured including areas such as capital sources, underwriting criteria and eligible measures. The workshop will be held on February 10, 2015, 7:30-10am at the City of Houston Permitting Center (1002 Washington). Learn more and register at www.eventbrite.com.
  4. New and Improved Bayou Preservation Association Website. Check out the newly updated BPA website at www.bayoupreservation.org.
  5. 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 mbell@bayoupreservation.org or by fax to (713) 529-6481.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 andrew.pompei@h-gac.com or by phone at 832-681-2598.
  8. Give 5% Day at Whole Foods Market Post Oak. The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center has been designated as the recipient of Whole Foods Market Post Oak’s Give 5% Day to be held on February 24, 2016, 9am-9pm. This means five percent of the landmark Houston store’s net income that day will be donated to the Arboretum. The Houston Arboretum will staff a table at the Post Oak store with Arboretum handouts and will answer questions about the organization. Additionally, there will be a hands-on “How to Make Your Own Seed Ball” activity, and prizes from the Arboretum’s Nature Store will be given away for Bingo Night that evening. Whole Foods Market Post Oak is located at 1700 Post Oak Blvd. near The Galleria. Among its many amenities are a free underground parking garage, the first-ever Whole Foods Market in-store brewery, more than 500 local Houston products and a boutique-style, eco-friendly clothing and accessory shopping area. To learn more about Give 5% Day benefiting the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, call 713-681-8433 or visit houstonarboretum.org.
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.

COMMUNITY NOTES

  1. Houston Airport Stakeholders Meeting. A Houston Airport Stakeholders Meeting will be held on February 3, 2016, at the Houston Green Building Resource Center from 6:30-8pm. As a Houston airport stakeholder, you have valuable insights that will benefit the development of a Sustainable Management Plan (SMP) for Houston’s airports. Come share your insights. You don’t have to be a sustainability expert to participate. RSVP to HAS-SMP@ricondo.com and note “Community” in the subject line. For more information, contact Lisa Reznar at lreznar@ricondo.com or Scott Hill at scott.hill@houstontx.gov. Meeting about Houston’s airports
  2. Managing Your Land for Wildlife Workshop. The Managing Your Land for Wildlife Workshop will be held on February 6, 2016, 8:45am-3pm at the Big Stone Lodge at Dennis Johnston Park. The workshop will include the following presentations: History, Ecology and Management of Texas Coastal Wetlands; Wildlife & Plant Census on Your Property: Identifying Species, Using Your Phone & iNaturalist; Save The Night (Artificial Light and Its Effects on Wildlife, Plants, and Our Lives); East Texas Black Bear Task Force: Return of a Texas Native; and Wildlife Management: An Appraiser’s Perspective – ‘Mini-Workshop.’ Preregistration is required. The cost is $30 per person, which includes ALL workshop materials and delicious catered lunch. Learn more and find the registration form: Managing Land for Wildlife TPWD 2016.
  3. Environmental Literacy Grants (ELG). The NOAA Office of Education has issued a competitive funding opportunity for education projects designed to strengthen the public’s and/or K-12 students’ environmental literacy to enable informed decision-making necessary for community resilience to extreme weather events and other environmental hazards. Successful projects will advance NOAA’s mission and build the environmental literacy necessary for community resilience by focusing on geographic awareness and an understanding of Earth systems and the threats and vulnerabilities that are associated with a community’s location. Eligible applicants are limited to institutions of higher education; other nonprofits, including informal education institutions such as museums, zoos, and aquariums; K-12 public and independent schools and school systems; and state, local and Indian tribal governments in the United States. Proposed projects should be between two and five years in duration and have total budget requests of $250,000 to $500,000 for all years of the project. The deadline for applications is February 8, 2016. Learn more at www.oesd.noaa.gov.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. 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 klebwoods@pct3.com.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Restore the Texas Coast – Grant Applications. Applications for Texas projects for grant funding under the Direct Component (Bucket 1) of the federal RESTORE Act are now being accepted until 5pm on April 15, 2016. Direct Component grants must support projects that: restore and protect natural habitats; mitigate damage to fish and wildlife; improve state parks in coastal areas; protect against coastal floods; promote tourism and/or consumption of Gulf Coast seafood; or develop the workforce and create jobs in the coastal region. Learn more at www.restorethetexascoast.org.
  14. Additional Dates of Note.
  15. 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.
    • El Paso’s Burrowing Owls
    • Parks & Wildlife People: Richland Creek Team
    • Producer’s Favorites: Oasis of the Kingfisher