Houston Environmental News Update December 20, 2017

Happy holidays from your friends at the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition!

As you know, the CEC is dedicated to protecting the fragile environment of our Houston/Gulf Coast region. But to continue our important work, we need the assistance of generous people like you.

CEC carries out a variety of crucial initiatives, such as producing our weekly e-newsletter, Houston Environmental News Update; providing our friends with a continuous listing of environmental jobs in the Houston/Gulf Coast region; hosting unique annual events like the Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour, our Greater Houston Environmental Summit, and–with our partners–Earth Day Houston.

Without the generous donations of friends like you, the CEC would not be able to continue these vital efforts. That’s why, as we near the end of 2017, I’m asking you to consider making a holiday gift to the CEC. To make a donation in any amount, please click here.

Let’s redouble our efforts in the new year to preserve our water, air, land, and wildlife.


Rachel Powers
Executive Director

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly took the photo above of Houston and the Gulf Coast as the International Space Station flew overhead.

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. Audubon Christmas Bird Counts
    The 118th annual Christmas Bird Count runs through 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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, 2018. See the class schedule to learn how to plant and care for trees so they will be fruitful for many years to come.
  4. Gift Your Loved Ones with a Dolphin!fishtoss
    They make a meaningful and unique gift! By symbolically adopting and/or naming a Galveston Bay dolphin, you can directly help fund the Galveston Bay Dolphin Research and Conservation Program. Your donation will contribute to the development of this new multi-faceted program. Adoption kits are $100 for a full year and naming is $1000. Perks include pictures and quarterly updates on your dolphin! For more information, visit Adopt a Galveston Bay Dolphin.
  5. Grant: Artist Boat’s “We Back the Bay” ProgramArtist Boat
    Thanks to a grant from The Environmental Protection Agency, Artist Boat is excited to offer the new We Back the Bay program starting in the fall of 2018! The program will build awareness of the causes and consequences of poor water quality in Galveston Bay, develop critical thinking skills necessary to mitigate pollution of the Bay, and create action to increase water conservation and reduce storm run-off from school campuses. Five schools from the counties surrounding Galveston Bay will be chosen to participate in the program which will include Professional Development for teachers, Artist Boat’s Eco-Art Workshop and Adventure, and the development of a WaterSmart Landscape on the chosen campuses. Program Participants will be chosen based on an application submitted by the participating teachers. Applications are due to Artist Boat by 5:00 pm on March 19, 2018. Download the full program description, application, and application rubric.
  6. Houston Arboretum & Nature Center’s New Entrance
    Due to a few minor delays, the Arboretum’s new entrance off of the 610 feeder road will now open January 5, 2018. All visitors – pedestrian, bike, or car – will need to use the new 610 entrance to access the Arboretum. Furthermore, the Woodway entrance will be closed to the public, starting January 8, 2018, and will remain closed through late spring 2018 as the Arboretum finish work in Phase 2 of their master plan.
  7. Enroll and Make a Difference: Reliant EcoShare Program
    Reliant and EarthShare of Texas have launched the Reliant EcoShare Program, which allows Reliant customers to help reduce their carbon footprints through the purchase of carbon offsets. For each customer-purchased offset, Reliant will make a contribution to EarthShare of Texas and its participating organizations. As an EarthShare of Texas participating organization, Katy Prairie Conservancy also benefits from this program. Simply sign up for the program option you prefer, and once your enrollment is processed, an amount designated for EcoShare will be added to your electricity bill each month. Read more on the Reliant EcoShare Program.
  8. U.S. Chemical Safety Board Sued for Lack of Public Communication
    On Dec. 7, 2018 several environmental groups sued the U.S. Chemical Safety Board in an effort to get the agency to communicate to the public when accidental chemical releases take place. The groups maintain that such action is required according to the Clean Air Act amendments made in 1990. For more information, visit Air Alliance Houston and Other Environmental Groups Sue U.S. Chemical Safety Board.
  9. Mayor Sylvester Turner Awards University of Houston for Sustainability Effortsmayors proud partner award
    (Kristina Michel, University of Houston, Dec. 8, 2017) During the 33rd Annual Mayor’s Proud Partners Luncheon, UH President Renu Khator and UH System Regent Paula Mendoza accepted the Outstanding Proud Partner Award on behalf of the University. This award recognizes an individual or an institution that has made an overwhelming contribution to the city of Houston’s quality of life. Read more about the University’s sustainability achievements and efforts.
  10. Houston Bike Plan: Documents, Maps, and Spatial Data Available
    The Houston Bike Plan was adopted by City Council and Mayor Turner on March 22, 2017. In early November, P&D Transportation Planners Matthew Seubert and Robert Guthart presented Houston’s Bike Plan at the 2017 annual conference for the American Planning Association – Texas Chapter (APATX17) in Frisco, TX. Seubert and Guthart illustrated the necessity of more viable transportation options via bicycling, as a component of Plan Houston. The City of Houston is in the process of identifying the next steps to prioritize and implement recommendations of the Plan. The Houston Bike Plan documents, maps, and spatial data are available to view and download.
  11. Follow the Progress of Houston’s Walkable Places Committee Walkable Places
    Houston’s Walkable Places Committee considers issues and potential revisions to Chapter 26 and 42 related to planning environments that facilitate walking, and create amenities for the public. A number of areas in Houston are attracting higher density commercial, office, and multifamily residential developments. These developments present an opportunity to create more vibrant, walkable streets that support alternative modes of transportation. The City’s development ordinances should maximize these opportunities. The Walkable Places Committee explores how these ordinances should be amended to achieve this objective. As of Dec. 8, 2017, the Walkable Places Committee will finalize the Walkable Places district application process, select pilot areas to create unique rules sensitive to the local context, and propose ordinance amendments to promote walkability in Houston within the coming months. The adoption of the new ordinance is targeted for early 2019. Preview documents and follow the Committee’s ongoing progress.
  12. “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.
  13. 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