CEC ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS UPDATE 1/17/03
Arbor Day Celebration
The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center will celebrate Houston's Arbor Day with an open house event featuring family oriented events including tree tours, puppet shows, a tree planting demonstration, crafts, papermaking and more. Free tree seedlings will be given away while supplies last. Five-gallon trees (one per family as long as supplies last)are free to those who agree to participate in the Houston Parks and Recreation Department's Adopt-A-Tree program for city rights of way. Special appearances by Johnny Appleseed, the Lorax, and Smokey the Bear are planned. The celebration will begin at 10 a.m. and last until 4 p.m.
Fuel spill closes Houston Ship Channel
The U.S. Coast Guard closed the Houston Ship Channel to deep-draft ships on Monday evening so a fuel oil spill could be cleaned up, according to a statement issued by the Coast Guard.
The Ship Channel remained closed Tuesday afternoon to deep-draft ships like oil tankers. Shallow draft ships like tugs and barges are allowed to move in the channel, the Coast Guard said.
About 2,000 gallons of fuel oil were spilled early Sunday morning when a hole was punctured in the tank of a barge, according to the statement.
Once the Coast Guard determines the fuel oil will not be spread b deep-draft ships, the channel will be reopened to them, according the statement.
Big Thicket Preserve among endangered parks
The Big Thicket National Preserve, located in Beaumont, was included in this years National Parks Conservation list of parks most threatened by air pollution, motorized vehicles, and nearby development plans.
Development projects that threaten the preserve include a project in progress to widen a 100-mile stretch of U.S. 69 that passes through the preserve, bringing increased pollution and fracturing migratory corridors, and a proposal to raise an existing dam on the Lower Neches River by as much as 10 feet, which could interfere with seasonal flooding.
Since 2001, More than 1.5 million acres of land surrounding the preserve have been made available for sale by timber companies. If the land is sold for non-preservation uses, clear cutting and development could damage lands up to the edges of biologically sensitive Big Thicket. The National Parks Service advocates expansion of the preserve that includes less than 10 percent of the timber lands for sale.
One of the first designated national preserves, the 97,000-acre Big Thicket is often called the "biological crossroads of North America." More than 1,000 flowering plants and more than 100 tree and shrub species provide habitat to a diverse array of wildlife, including 300 migratory and nesting bird species. Big Thicket is among the first national park units established primarily to protect its biological and scientific value, as opposed to its scenic or recreational resources.
Publishers of the "10 Most Endangered Parks" list, NPCA was originally created as a watchdog for the National Park Service. The organization partners with the federal government and numerous national, regional, and local groups to protect park resources by battling abuse and neglect, educating the public, promoting local restoration and fostering better management in parks nationwide.
GBPCA study: Bayport facility outdated, inefficient
The Port of Houston Authority's plans for its proposed container port at Bayport would create a sprawling, inefficient facility, outdated before the first container could ever be unloaded from a ship, according to a new study released by the Galveston Bay Conservation and Preservation Association. The study, conducted by GBPCA transportation analyst Nancy Edmonson, compared the proposed Bayport facility to other U.S. container cargo terminals.
The report's space/efficiency analysis found that an existing Port of Long Beach terminal of 1,017 acres has a container through-put capacity nearly three times higher than the plans show for the proposed Bayport facility, even though the Bayport footprint is roughly the same size.
The Long Beach terminal has more than 21,000 feet of berth length and can handle 6.5 million TEUs per year (container cargo is measured in "twenty-foot equivalent units" or TEUs). Port of Houston Authority plans for Bayport show just 7,000 feet of berth length and a capacity of only 2.2 million TEUs per year, despite its size.
"This absolutely flies in the face of Port of Houston Authority claims about creating a modern, state-of-the art facility," Edmonson, said. "The Port is a tax-supported agency, yet it is proposing to spend tax dollars developing an old-style facility three times larger than it needs to be."
The study also found a new container port to be developed at Texas City, covering only 400 acres, has projected through-put of 2.4 million TEUs higher than the capacity planned at Bayport despite taking up less than half the land area.
Averages derived from other ports in the study show that a container terminal handling the 2.2 million TEUs per year projected in the Bayport plans should require only between 330 and 360 acres of land. To view the full report, visit www.gbcpa.org/Publications/SizeTechnicalReport.pdf.
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CEC Environmental News Update is a weekly publication by the Citizens' Environmental Coalition, a 501(c)3 dedicated to fostering dialogue, education and collaboration about environmental issues in the Houston-Gulf Coast Region. Visit the CEC online at www.cechouston.org.
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