Houston Environmental News Update December 13, 2017

The newest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, opens on Friday. The predecessor, The Force Awakens, tells the story of a professional recycler (“scavenger”) who becomes a hero with the opportunity to save the galaxy. OK, kindof a stretch, but recyclers ARE heroes. The Star Wars message that hope and determination in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds is one that we, as an environmental community, must embrace. May the force be with you!
Speaking of movies… Tickets are now on sale for the Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour, which CEC is hosting at the River Oaks Theatre on January 24 & 25, 2018.
Tickets make great gifts! Purchase passes securely using a credit card using the form below. We will follow up with you regarding delivery of the gift passes. For other payment options, email [email protected]

Ticket Type
You email or phone #

Scroll down to read notes from our member organizations and the community, or view the emailed version of the newsletter, which includes a green job listing.


Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour: Tickets now on sale!

Following our wildly successful 2017 showing, the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition is proud to bring the Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Tour, one of the largest environmental film festivals in North America, back to Houston for the fourth year for two nights: Jan. 24 & 25, 2018!

We invite you to join us at the  2018 W&SFF On Tour to be held at the historic River Oaks Theatre, where up to 450 patrons each night will enjoy about 10 different films each night highlighting the latest environmental issues. We selected films that showcase the links between beauty, environment, adventure, quality of life, and action. By showing these films, CEC is working to connect individuals and organizations to create a stronger Gulf Coast environmental community.
Early bird tickets available until Jan. 10, 2018 on Eventbrite.


We have tried to confirm the events listed below, but not all organizations have updated their websites. Please consider confirming directly with the hosts.

  1. Ride the Holiday Train
    Now through Jan. 7, 2018, the Hermann Park holiday train is back with extended hours rolling through the Park glowing with colorful lights! Take a festive ride on the decked out Hermann Park Railroad. Learn more at hermannpark.org.
  2. Gulf Research Program’s Education Grant OpportunityEducation RFA image
    The Gulf Research Program seeks to increase the scientific and environmental literacy and problem-solving skills of children and youth with a focus on service-, project-, or problem- based learning opportunities on topics that are relevant to the GRP’s initiatives. Proposed projects for this grant opportunity should engage children and youth in ways that can help to ensure that the next generation of informed citizens, scientists, engineers, and decision-makers understand the socio-environmental challenges and opportunities in their local communities and have the capacity to address them. Applications open Dec. 13, 2017. Applicants must submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) by February 14, 2018, 5:00 pm ET. For more information, please visit nas.edu.
  3. Air Alliance Houston Open House
    Air Alliance Houston cordially invites you to their Annual Holiday Open House on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, at 5:30 pm. Please join Air Alliance as they celebrate the organization and community’s accomplishments for the year. Join friends and colleagues after work for conversation and light refreshments at the Air Alliance office. Admission is free, and donations are gladly accepted. Please also consider bringing nonperishable food donations for the Public Citizen/Air Alliance Houston December food drive. Contributions benefit the Houston Food Bank. Learn more and RSVP at eventbrite.com.
  4. Deadline: 2018 AIA Sandcastle Logo Design CompetitionImage result for aia houston logo
    The winning designer’s team will receive a priority selection at the site selection lottery. Entries must be received by 3:00 pm on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. For more information, view the flyer posted aiahouston.org.
  5. Audubon Christmas Bird Counts
    The 118th annual Christmas Bird Count is scheduled for Dec. 14, 2017, to Jan. 5, 2018. Organized by the National Audubon Society, this all-volunteer effort takes a snapshot of bird populations to monitor their status and distribution across the Western Hemisphere. The results are compiled into a database that is shared with federal, state, and private authorities. Counts are open to birders of all skill levels. Discover new areas that may not be normally accessible; take advantage of this great opportunity to bird-watch with some of our foremost birding experts. There is NO FEE to participate in Christmas Bird Counts. The National Audubon Society encourages you to learn more about the counts–including a few dozen within a two-hour drive of downtown Houston–at HoustonAudubon.org. (CEC’s Rachel Powers plans to help kick off the Central Houston count at Woodland Park near I-45 and I-10, providing warm donuts for those early birds, not in search of worms.)
  6. Mornings in the Country with Blackwood Land Institute
    On Dec. 17, 2017, take a self-guided tour of the farm, enjoy a delicious lunch with ingredients from the gardens, take a class with our Farm Director, and much more. Register below, or for more information, please contact Gabi Graves at [email protected], or visit blackwoodland.org.
  7. Deadline: Youth Making Ripples Contest
    The Youth Making Ripples Contest is an ocean conservation-inspired film festival and competition which challenges K–12 students to produce short ocean documentaries (< 5 min.) about problems that face the ocean, and possible solutions to these issues. Website Youth Making Ripples provides filmmaker resources, examples of previous winning films, and submission details. Students can win small scholarships and participate in an annual shark tagging expedition (teacher included). In addition, this year’s finalists will also become part of Youth Making Ripples’ traveling film festival and have the opportunity to debut to audiences around the country. The updated deadline for submission is Dec. 19th, 2017.
  8. 2017 NOAA Marine Debris Accomplishments Report Now Available
    The NOAA Marine Debris Program is proud to present its 2017 Accomplishments Report, which highlights some of its major accomplishments over the past year.
    Learn more at marinedebris.noaa.gov.
  9. Gulf Coast Green 2018 Call for Presenters
    The American Institute of Architects has announced a call for presenters for the Gulf Coast Green 2018 Symposium and Expo. After 12 successful years, Gulf Coast Green, scheduled for June 1, 2018, remains the leading green building conference in the Gulf Coast region. AIA is seeking presenters from architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, interior design, education, the arts, planning, contracting, energy analysis, and other building-related professions for this year’s conference theme — RESILIENCE: Beyond Recovery. The deadline for submissions is Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. Proposal guidelines, track descriptions, and submittal instructions are now online at aiahouston.org.
  10. Commute Times Grow in Houston
    New estimates from the Census Bureau show both rents and commute times are rising in Houston and other major metropolitan areas. Rice University’s Kinder Institute summarized findings from the recently released Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The blog post also discusses public transportation and carpooling. Most commuters, according to the study, drive to work alone. “Only 2.3 percent of commuters in the Houston metropolitan area took public transportation to work, compared to 6.0 percent in Los Angeles, 3.7 percent in Miami and 3.1 percent in Atlanta. That number was pretty much flat since 2013 for Houston. In Harris County, the percentage of people commuting via public transportation actually appeared to drop between 2009 and 2016, from 3.4 percent to 2.8 percent. In neighboring Fort Bend and Montgomery counties that percentage has stayed more or less flat in recently years at 1.7 percent for Fort Bend County and 1.3 percent for Montgomery County. In Harris County, 79 percent of commuters drove alone while 11 percent carpooled. An additional 1.5 percent walked to work and 0.4 percent biked to work. And 3.5 percent worked from home…. About a quarter of transit commuters said they had no vehicle available but 16 percent said they had three or more available.” Learn more at urbanedge.blogs.rice.edu.
  11. Deadline: EPA Extends Period for Public CommentImage result for EPA logo
    EPA extends the public comment period until Jan. 12, 2018. The agency hopes to receive more information on the five persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals subject to section 6(h) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). EPA wants to know the uses of these chemicals, products containing these chemicals, exposed populations, and alternatives to these chemicals. Please submit any relevant information, identified by the docket identification (ID) number associated with the respective chemical. For more information, visit EPA’s Assessing and Managing Chemicals website on the Five PBTs.
  12. Orange you glad it’s citrus time? 
    Citrus is ideal for school gardens because they are low maintenance and have a bountiful harvest during the late fall and early winter. Consider a fruit tree for your school campus from Urban Harvest’s Annual Fruit Tree Sale on Sat., Jan. 13, 2017. See the class schedule to learn how to plant and care for trees so they will be fruitful for many years to come.
  13. Great Plains Restoration Council’s Exciting New Partnership
    The GPRC is excited to announce a new partnership with Southern Plains Land Trust, which works to preserve the declining shortgrass prairie ecosystem in the Southern Great Plains. This partnership is expected to open the pathway toward a major founding goal of GPRC: a landscape-scale refuge of health and safety for buffalo, prairie dogs, and other prairie wildlife, and people. For years, the GPRC has worked in a stepwise fashion to build a new culture of caring for the prairie so that the council could get to this point. The GPRC hopes that in a few years, prairies will finally join forests, oceans, wetlands and other ecosystems in their rightful equal place of public concern and protection.
  14. Environmental Groups Sue the EPABarry Lefer, associate professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Houston, poses at the Moody Tower air quality monitoring on the University of Houston campus Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, Photo: Johnny Hanson, Staff / © 2012 Houston Chronicle
    (Dug Begley, Houston Chronicle, Dec. 4, 2017. Photo by Johnny Hanson.) “Ten environmental and public health groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency, accusing federal officials of dragging their feet on designating major metropolitan areas – including Houston – out of compliance with clean air regulations. The lawsuit, filed after the groups threatened a legal challenge two months ago, asks the court to force the EPA to declare which areas do not comply with the regulations, specifically those regarding ozone levels. The designation starts the clock for states to come up with plans to clean up the air in those areas.” Read more at houstonchronicle.com.
  15. “Scientific Agreement Can Neutralize the Politicization of Facts”
    The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication is pleased to announce the publication of a new article: “Scientific Agreement Can Neutralize the Politicization of Facts” in the journal Nature Human Behaviour. Several recent studies have found that the more education conservatives have, the less likely they are to accept scientific findings about climate change, suggesting a motivated reasoning effect. This has led to the concern that attempts to increase public knowledge might exacerbate political polarization on the issue. Yet, most prior studies have been correlational, which leaves the most important question unanswered: Does communicating climate change facts cause issue polarization? Researchers sought to answer this question with a large nationally representative experiment involving 6,301 Americans. For those with a subscription to Nature Human Behaviour,the article is available at nature.com. If you would like to request a copy, please send an email to [email protected], with the Subject Line: Request Scientific Agreement Paper.
  16. 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.
    • Texas Parks & Wildlife Television on your Texas PBS - Program 2609. December 10–16, 2017, and June 10–16, 2018The Hundred-Mile Hike: Follow a young hiker on her first long-distance hike on the longest trail in Texas: The Lone Star Hiking Trail. Share in her triumphs, along with fatigue, blisters, and ticks.
    • Lone Star Land Steward–Three Mile Creek: With selective cedar removal, grazing and wildlife management, and a passion for native grasses, a family in the Hill Country has revived Three Mile Creek and the land that surrounds it.
    • Postcard From Texas: Located in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas, where dry is the norm, Alamito Creek stands out as a tiny oasis.

Additional Upcoming Events