Houston Environmental News Update April 22, 2014
- 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.
- Houston Renewable Energy Group (HREG) Quarterly Meeting. For HREG’s quarterly meeting on April 24, 2014, 5:30-7pm, 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.
- Earth Month HNPAT Meeting. The monthly meeting of the Houston Native Prairies Association of Texas will be on April 24, 2014, at 6:30pm. This will be a special meeting to celebrate earth month! From 6:30-7pm, make a seedling pot out of newspaper or toilet paper roll or egg cartons, decorate, and fill with Indian Blanket seeds! Then attend a presentation, “The Prairie – Bird Connection,” with Glenn Olsen at 7pm. Glenn Olsen will reveal the key role that our prairie plays in the survival of this highly diverse bird community: residents, neo-tropicals, and neartic migrants. Glenn, who leads bird tours for a variety of organizations, will give insights into seasonal birding hotspots. http://prairiepartner.org
- 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.
- Give 5% Day! For over 40 years, Earth Day has inspired individuals worldwide to demonstrate their commitment to environmental protection and sustainability. Houstonians are committed to preserving and improving the wonderful quality of life we have in this region and have shown their support for multiple conservation and quality of life initiatives over that time period. For this reason, on Saturday, April 26, 2014, eight Houston-area conservation groups- Air Alliance Houston, Bayou Land Conservancy, Bayou Preservation Association, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Galveston Bay Foundation, Houston Audubon, Katy Prairie Conservancy, and Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund- are collaborating for the third annual “Give 5% to Conserve Houston” campaign! The campaign encourages local businesses to commit to donate five percent of gross sales on April 26, 2014, the Saturday after Earth Day, to the above listed non-profits that dedicate their time and energy into making the Houston area a better place. In return, the participating non-profit partners encourage the local community to celebrate Earth Day by supporting these businesses throughout Earth Day weekend. See a list of businesses here, and you can sign up to participate here.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- HANC Class: Designing Rain Gardens & Nature Ponds. In Southeast Texas, our vanishing wetlands are an ecosystem vital to the water quality of both surface and groundwater supplies. Rain gardens and nature ponds are a great way for homeowners to help by recreating some of the functions of this vanishing ecosystem in their own yards. An added benefit is the wide variety of wildlife that these habitats attract. Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is hosting Designing Rain Gardens & Nature Ponds class on April 27, 2014, from 3-5pm. Come learn the design fundamentals for the different water features, then accompany Adult Programs Director Joe Blanton on an informative tour of the recent rain garden additions surrounding the Arboretum’s Visitor Center building. Three nearby nature ponds will also be explored. The cost is $40 for members and $65 for non-members. Register at www.houstonarboretum.org.
- Houston Environmental Justice Encuentro 2014. Save the date for the Houston Environmental Justice Encuentro 2014 from May 16-17, 2014, at TCU. The goals of the symposium include fostering dialog, communication and education between conservation groups and residents of areas most affected by severe environmental health risks; enlightening Houstonians with an understanding that environmental injustices suffered by “fence-line” communities affect all Houstonians; and empowering Houston regional residents to work for the environmental quality they want their families and grandchildren to have. The cost to attend is $20 for one day and $35 for both days. Learn more and register at www.hpjc.org.
- Bay Day. Bay Day is a one-day celebration presented by the Galveston Bay Foundation and numerous community partners. It is a fun event for families and adults that allows attendees to experience and learn more about Galveston Bay, the largest bay in Texas and one of the most productive estuaries in the country! Bay Day highlights include hands-on, interactive exhibits, activities and demonstrations that emphasize the beauty and value of Galveston Bay. Saturday, April 26, 2014, 11 am to 4 pm. http://galvbay.org/events_bayday.html
- 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 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.
- Coastal Waters Institute. Artist Boat is currently recruiting middle school teachers for FREE professional development training over the summer. There will be two opportunities for a four-day, hands-on field and classroom-based professional development. Sign up for the training July 14-17, 2014, which will focus on the Galveston Bay Watershed or for the training July 21-24, 2014, which will focus on the Coastal Bend Bays Watershed. Participants enrolled in this professional development will receive 32 CPE hours, Artist Boat’s Coastal Waters Institute Curriculum with 24 professionally developed and creative lessons aligned with TEKS, an unforgettable training experience about the environment, a day on the water via kayak and vessel, and hands-on training in TEKS aligned curriculum. Learn more by calling 409-770-0722.
Back to top
- UH Earth Day Festival. Come learn more about environmental causes and living sustainably during the annual Earth Day Festival at the University of Houston. This year’s event will take place Tuesday, April 22, 2014, from 11:30am-1:30pm in Lynn Eusan Park. Everyone who comes will be able to play games, enjoy refreshments and participate in activities. Visit all of the booths to win a tote bag, a T-shirt, and more! Celebrate the planet a learn about sustainability projects from the University of Houston and other local organizations. Learn more here.
- 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.
- Film Screening: Trashed. The Houston Museum of Natural Science is offering members of local environmental organizations a discount to next week’s film screening in celebration of Earth Day 2014. To receive $5 off the regular ticket price present coupon code Lec$5off when purchasing your ticket at the HMNS box office or 713-639-4629 (Coupon not available online). The screening will be held on April 24, 2014, at 6:30pm. The film, Trashed, confronts the critical global issues of waste and sustainability. Producer Jeromy Irons takes viewers around the world, confronting mountains of trash in China, an endless tide of plastic waste on Indonesia’s Ciliwung River, and the tons of human detritus floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Join HMNS and Dr. Herb Ward, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University, for this award-winning film on the global waste problem and sustainability. Learn more here.
- 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.
- Champion Lake Earth Day Event. In commemoration of Earth Day 2014, Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge along with the Friends of Trinity River Refuge, will host an afternoon of outdoor activities at the Champion Lake Public Use Area. The fun-filled afternoon is on Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 11am-2pm. Activities will include canoeing, kayaking, bird and butterfly viewing, walking the levee trail, dip netting and fishing lessons in the lake for the kids, and a “Wildlife Experience.” Champion Lake is located at the end of CR 417, two miles east of FM 1409 in southern Liberty County. Admission is free. For more information, call the refuge office at 936-336-9786.
- Friends of Texas Wildlife: Wine and Beer Tasting. Come enjoy five 1-oz. wine or beer tastes of your choice on April 26, 2014, 6:30-8:30pm, at The Arbor Gate (15635 FM 2920). Proceeds for this event will benefit the care of injured, displaced, and orphaned wildlife of Montgomery and North Harris Counties through Friends of Texas Wildlife. In addition to the wine and beer tastes, there will also e light hors d’oeuvres, live music, and a silent and live auction. To learn more or purchase tickets, visit www.ftwl.org.
- 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.
- MDUMC Earth Ministry: Are Renewables Still in America’s Future? The Memorial Drive United Methodist Church Earth Ministry is hosting a short course, “Are Renewables Still in America’s Future?” on April 28, 2014 and May 5, 2014, from 7:30-9pm. New extracting techniques such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing “fracking” have led to massive increases in known oil and gas reserves. That abundant supply threatens efforts to combat the disruptive effects of climate warming and poses major obstacles for the development of clean energy sources. In this short course, participants will assess the potential for wind, solar, geothermal and other renewables as well as the promise for greater energy efficiency. They will also discuss policy considerations for creating the most favorable energy landscape. Instructor: John Sauri. RSVP to MDUMCearthministry@gmail.com or call 713-806-8397.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- #GlobalSelfie with NASA on Earth Day. NASA invites you — and everyone else on the planet — to take part in a worldwide celebration of Earth Day this year with the agency’s #GlobalSelfie event. The year 2014 is a big one for NASA Earth science. Five NASA missions designed to gather critical data about our home planet are launching to space this year. NASA is marking this big year for Earth science with a campaign called Earth Right Now, and as part of this campaign the agency is asking for your help this Earth Day, April 22, 2014. While NASA satellites constantly look at Earth from space, on Earth Day NASA is asking you to step outside and take a picture of yourself wherever you are on Earth. Then post it to social media using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie. Once those pictures stream around the world on Earth Day, the individual pictures tagged #GlobalSelfie will be used to create a mosaic image of Earth — a new “Blue Marble” built bit by bit with your photos. Learn more here!
- 2014 Texas Envirothon Winner – Academy of Science and Technology. The Texas Envirothon is an environmental education program designed to enhance a student’s problem solving and critical thinking skills. The 2014 Envirothon was held April 5-7, 2014, at the University of Houston – Clear Lake campus. Saturday began with student training workshops offered by a variety of professionals in which students were trained in aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife, and oral presentation skills. The hands-on portion of the training occurred at the Armand Bayou Nature Center, which included fish and invertebrate identification and a walking tour of the nature trails and restored prairie. On Sunday, the competition began with 99 students. The overall winning team was Team Alligator from Academy of Science and Technology. Students on the winning team were Horatia Fang, Manasi Joshi, Colton Nettleton, Eleanor Shaul and Andie Tong; and the team advisors were Linda Costanzo and Larry Walker. Read more: 2014 Texas Envirothon Press Release.
- 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).
- Austin’s Warblers
- Lone Star Land Steward: Jack & Jan Cato
- Pedernales Falls Bike Trails
- Selling Texas – Outdoor Tourism
- 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 22, 2014: Yellow–Moderate–Ozone. Winds may be light enough and incoming background levels high enough for ozone to reach “Moderate” or possibly higher levels on the east and southeast side of the Houston area.
- April 23, 2014: Yellow–Moderate–Ozone. Winds may be light enough and incoming background levels high enough for ozone to reach “Moderate” levels on the northwest and north sides of the Houston
- April 24, 2014: Green–Good. Moderate to strong winds and lower incoming background levels should help to keep air quality in the “Good” range.
Back to top
ECONOTES Featured News Articles–For dzens of additional headlines, visit the CEC website. (You can let us know about articles, too. E-mail email@example.com).
- Almost 100 Houston Schools Near Toxic Chemical Facilities, Analysis Shows (Florian Martin – Houston Public Media, 4/16/2014)
Ninety-five schools in the Houston area are within a mile of one or more facilities that work with dangerous chemicals. That’s according to an analysis by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Effective Government. Sara Smith, program director at the advocacy organization Texas Public Interest Research Group, or TexPIRG, said there are 33 facilities in Texas that each potentially threatens more than a million people, and 20 of those are in the greater Houston area. Not surprisingly, an online interactive map shows the majority of toxic chemical facilities are east of Houston, in the Pasadena-La Porte-Baytown area. They are also more likely to be in low-income and minority communities.
- Rivals work together to limit greenhouse gases (Matthew Tresaugue – Houston Chronicle, 4/16/2014)
After years of fighting over how to tackle climate change, Texas and the EPA have come together to issue a permit for carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping emissions at a petrochemical plant in Corpus Christi. The permit will allow Equistar Chemicals to expand an existing facility while limiting emissions of greenhouse gases through changes in plant operations, federal and state regulators said Wednesday. It’s the first one issued since the state decided to take an active role in the relatively new permitting process for emissions linked to global warming.
- How Oil and Budget Cuts Threaten ‘the World’s Most Endangered Sea Turtle’ (Mose Buchele – StateImpact, 4/18/2014)
Around this time every year female Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles arrive like clockwork on Matagorda Island on the Texas Gulf Coast. The Island is a wildlife refuge maintained by the service. Jeremy Edwardson, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, says it’s usually kept free of all human activity. But not this year. The traffic is part of the ongoing oil cleanup by state and federal agencies in the wake of a barge accident in the Port of Houston. Officials are worried cleanup efforts could hurt the turtles and other wildlife. But the alternative – just leaving the oil on the beach – is not really an option.