Houston Environmental News Update March 15, 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.

I must admit, I often can’t think about being green without thinking of Kermit the Frog. It’s not easy, he bemoaned. Some times, however, are easier than others to be green. Look outside, visit our calendar, visit a park, read our newsletter… Opportunities to be green abound, especially as we head into Earth Month. St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t hurt. This week–be green.

Last week, we welcomed Levy Park Conservancy. This week, we welcome another new member of the CEC: Houston Botanic Garden. Houston Botanic Garden is not yet on the ground or ready for visits, but it has a location and a plan. Both parks are evidence of the patience, persistence, creativity, and support that are necessary to build an amazing park in our region. We are pleased to welcome Houston Botanic Garden this week.


Environment Matters Happy Hour
March 29, 2017, 6 PM
Eureka Brewery, 941 W 18th St, Houston, TX 77008

Join the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (CEC) for Environment Matters – a periodic gathering for anyone interested in the environment. 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.
Food: The Mi Garita food truck will be on site. You may also bring in outside food.
Drink: Eureka has many fantastic beverages available and you may also bring in nonalcoholic beverages (reusable water bottle, etc..). To maximize meeting and greeting, please consider arriving a few minutes early. More details next week!

Stump the Treehugger: Earth Day Environmental Trivia Contest

Join CEC at Saint Arnold Brewing Company on Sunday, April 30, 2017, from 4 PM to 6 PM for the Earth Day Houston Environmental Trivia Contest. Sponsored by the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, this exciting new way to celebrate Earth Day will stimulate and challenge all area tree-huggers (as well as budding ones). Think & Drink for the Planet!

Teams of eight players each will compete in nine rounds of earthy trivia, answering eco-centric questions in the following categories:
  • Enviro 101
  • Soils
  • Plants and Agriculture
  • Water
  • Air
  • Animals and Wildlife
  • Human Footprint
  • Politics, Government, and Eco-Justice
  • Global Issues
Both individuals and entire teams of eight are welcome to sign up for the contest (individuals will be assigned to a team). Register on EventBrite. We hope to see you there!

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]

Earth Day Houston 2018

The CEC is gearing up for the Earth Day Houston 2018, and is recruiting members for our 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]

CEC welcomes Houston Botanic Garden as a new member

CEC welcomes Houston Botanic Garden as a new member

85th Texas Legislature Regular Session Update – March 14, 2017


  1. Houston Community ToolBank Warehouse Tours
    Every third Thursday of the month–on the 16th in March–from 9:00 to 10:00 am the Houston Community ToolBank hosts an open warehouse tour. The ToolBank lends tools (hammers, shovels, saws, etc.) and items (tents, tables, chairs, safety gear, etc.) to nonprofits, community groups and corporate volunteers for charitable projects. Stop in to see the over 10,000 items, and visit with our helpful staff about your next project. Learn about our lending program and how we help hundreds of nonprofits and equip thousand of volunteers in the Gulf Coast region. Volunteer to paint ToolBank tools blue and/or fill tool orders. The tour is free to all and we encourage you to bring a a friend. Access to ToolBank tools eliminates the need for agencies and groups to incur the expense of purchasing, renting, repairing, insuring and storing tools, reducing the costs associated with service projects and allowing these organizations to focus more of their resources on their mission.
  2. 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. 
  3. Tour de Houston
    This annual fundraising bike ride will take place March 19, 2017. The ride, whihc helps fund the City’s reforestation projects, offers Houstonians and visitors a unique way to view the city with routes winding through Houston’s historic neighborhoods, scenic districts and parks while raising funds for the city’s Reforest Houston program. With three ride length options, the Tour de Houston is the perfect event for leisure riders or cycling enthusiasts. In addition, it is a BP MS 150 recommended training ride. Riders will start and end at City Hall located at 901 Bagby. This event begins and ends in Hermann Square at City Hall. Riders and volunteers will enjoy a post-ride party. Register to ride or find out where to cheer at www.houstontx.gov/tourdehouston/.
  4. Center for Houston’s Future Leadership Luncheon
    Join Center for Houston’s Future in honoring civic leadership across the Houston region for the 2017 Future of Leadership Luncheon. The Center is delighted to announce Dr. Robert Ivany as our keynote speaker. Currently President of the University of St. Thomas, Dr. Ivany came to Houston following a 34-year career in the U.S. Army. The West Point graduate was decorated for valor, served as Army Aide to President Ronald Reagan, and functioned as commandant of the Army War College. Since 2004 he has shaped our future leaders at St. Thomas. Dr Ivany will speak on his experiences with Civility in Leadership and how those lessons may be applied for future success. The Center’s 14th annual Eugene H. Vaughan Civic Leadership Award will be presented to Harris County Judge and Mrs. Ed Emmett, for their practical, compassionate problem solving with a broad, future-focused approach to the challenges facing our beloved region. Gwen Emmett has been a powerful advocate for public health, particularly mental health. Judge Emmett has served as a model of pragmatic and effective governance while serving as Harris County’s Chief Executive since 2007. Register by the close-of-business on Monday, March 20, 2017, to reserve your seat.
  5. River, Lakes, Bays ‘N Bayous Trash Bash®
    Every year, thousands of volunteers gather along Texas waterways to do their part in cleaning up the environment by participating in the largest, single-day waterway cleanup in the state of Texas. Register as an individual or as a group at trashbash.org. Most of the fourteen sites start at 8 am on March 25, 2017, for a half day of volunteering:

  6. NOAA Ocean Discovery Day
    Ocean Discovery Day, on March 25, 2017, is a FREE event designed to introduce residents and visitors to NOAA programs in their community. This open house invites people into the NOAA Galveston Lab to enjoy hands-on activities; explore coral reefs, salt marshes, offshore oil platforms and marine science careers; discover Fort Crockett history; learn how to rescue dolphins; visit with sea turtles; and see what NOAA is and does here in the Gulf of Mexico. Registration is not required, and you can learn more at flowergarden.noaa.gov.
  7. Lights Out Houston
    The City of Houston’s Office of Sustainability invites you to join businesses around Houston and across the world in celebration of Earth Hour, by turning off the lights on March 25, 2017, from 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM. This year, Lights Out Houston, a voluntary Houston-wide commitment to energy efficiency by commercial building owners and their tenants since 2008 is joining with Earth Hour, a worldwide movement that started as a lights-off event in 2007. Help Houston flip the switch toward energy efficiency and a sustainable future. Join millions of people, spanning across 178 countries worldwide, by turning off your lights for one hour to show your solidarity with the planet and the fight against climate change. This collective effort saves energy and helps make our communities healthier and happier places to call home. Make the pledge to participate in Lights Out Houston Today at EarthHour.org.
  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. 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. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  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. Loam Agronomics
    A farm your can love in the ‘burbs of Houston. Fresh and local food is important to the health of our community — both the people’s and the environment’s. We know that, so do the founders of Loam Agronomics, a new farm on 288-acres in Richmond, TX. If you’ve been looking for a regular supply of affordable and eco-friendly food delivered close to home, Loam has what you need. They’re setting up Drop Sites across Houston, scheduling pickups on Thursdays and Saturdays and pricing out boxes at just $30 a week! Check out what it means to be a part of their CSA (community supported agriculture program). And then join in. You may really like what they’re growing.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

    • Prairie Chickens: Follow along as biologists struggle to save one of the most endangered birds in all of Texas.*
    • Gargantuan Gar: As more anglers view the alligator gar as a sport fish, more research is required to sustain this mysterious species.*
    • Lionfish: The invasive Lionfish is threatening the balance of the Gulf of Mexico.*
  5. Additional Upcoming Events