Houston Environmental News Update December 27, 2017

It’s almost the new year*, so now’s a perfect time to invest in the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition. After all, what are the holidays for if not giving?

We hope you’ll remember all the valuable work the CEC has done in 2017 to connect our environmental community and donate today and gain access to some great benefits. With any gift of $40 or more, you will become an individual member of the CEC and gain access to some great benefits:

  • Our weekly newsletter, the indispensable Houston Environmental News Update
  • Our Environmental Resource Guide, your source for invaluable information on each environmental group in the Gulf Coast region
  • Discounted tickets to the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, the Greater Houston Environmental Summit, and the Stump the Treehugger environmental trivia contest
  • Continuously updated listings of the most environmentally-friendly jobs in the region

Your gift helps us carry out our mission of fostering education, dialogue, and collaboration on environmental issues in the Houston/Gulf Coast region.

We appreciate your support and look forward to partnering with you to connect our environmental community in 2018!


Rachel Powers
Executive Director

Banner Photo Notes: The photo above was taken at Lake Livingston State Park, one of several local state parks that are hosting First Day Hikes, part of the national First Day Hikes initiative. The First Day Hikes events range from brisk strolls on scenic trails, bike rides, short treks with four-legged family members, bird walks, beachcombing, campfires, paddles, and full moon walks to more strenuous hikes for experienced visitors. Local hikes are are being held at

Last year, 75 state parks hosted 121 First Day Hikes event across Texas. More than 3,700 participants walked, paddled and biked 7,600 miles at a Texas State Park. A complete list of First Day Hike events can be found on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s calendar page. Photo © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

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. Learn more about the counts–including a few dozen within a two-hour drive of downtown Houston–at HoustonAudubon.org. Remaining events in the region:

  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. 2018 Chevron Houston Marathon Run for a Reason Charity Challengerfar-logo-4c
    CEC Member Organizations–Buffalo Bayou Partnership and the Galveston Bay Foundation–need your help! Chevron has partnered with the Houston Marathon Foundation to celebrate and recognize the success of the Chevron Houston Marathon Run for a Reason Program. Prizes will be awarded in the amount of $25,000 each in three categories. To make a difference for an organization close to your heart, from Dec. 20 – 31, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. CT, vote for your favorite Run for a Reason charity or make a donation. Winning charities will be announced at the Chevron Houston Marathon Media Monday on Jan. 8, 2018. To vote, donate, or for more information, visit 2018 Chevron Houston Marathon Run for a Reason Charity Challenge.
  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. Air Alliance Houston’s State of the Air Galaimage_1513109819.png
    The State of the Air Gala will take place Wednesday, February 21, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. at the Health Museum. Featured speakers include former Mayor Bill White and Dr. Robert Bullard, the father of Environmental Justice. Registration for the event is now open! If you are interested in serving as a host committee member or sponsor, please contact Jennifer Cate at 713-206-5505 or [email protected]
  5. A Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity to Modernize Conservation Funding
    House Resolution 4647, also known as the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, would provide $1.3 billion annually from existing federal revenues for state-led projects to improve and restore fish and wildlife habitats, without any increase in taxes. This federal legislation represents a once in a generation opportunity to modernize conservation funding, provide more regulatory certainty for business and industries, repair the nation’s ecological infrastructure, and change the course of history for thousands of at-risk fish and wildlife species. Passage of H.R. 4647 would direct a portion of existing royalties from energy and mineral production on federal lands and waters to the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program, established in 2000. State wildlife agencies will distribute the money to projects for habitat restoration, scientific research, protecting land, establishing conservation easements, and other initiatives listed in each state’s Wildlife Action Plan. Learn more at Texas Wildlife Association’s Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Offers Opportunity To Help Wildlife and Business in Texas or directly access the text of H.R. 4647.
  6. 2018 Spring Charrette: Nexus – Activate Commerce
    Can design ingenuity create a new archetype that promotes aspirations for Houston? This year rdAGENTS are joining forces with AIA young professionals to host a design charrette to challenge teams to reimagine the site of the Meat Packing Building along Commerce street. The building site has potentials for reconciling history with forward-thinking design solutions integrating multi-modal travel options/ Teams will be asked to propose ideas that would answer two questions. Could a new building proposal mediate the desire to build along a downtown waterfront to promote urban revitalization yet meet the strict criteria for floodway construction? Or should the site be transformed to greenspace to connect the street level to bayou level? Read more about the Rice Design Alliance’s 2018 Spring Charrette. See below for a list of key dates.

    • Jan. 19, 2018  – Competition Registration Deadline
    • Jan. 20, 2018 at 9:30am – Site Visit from 1019 Commerce Street
    • Jan. 27, 2018 from 8:30am to 5pm Design Charrette
    • Jan. 29, 2018 from 4pm to 6pm – Presentation to jury,
      6pm to 8pm, Reception and Award
  7. Planning Matters – Lunch with the Mayor
    On Jan. 23, 2018, 11:30 – 1:30 pm, in the Legacy Room of City Hall, join Blueprint Houston and Mayor Sylvester Turner for lunch as they speak of Houston’s future. Mayor Turner will present an update on his activities, and Blueprint Houston will host a conversation about planning the City’s future and using Plan Houston to prepare for the “next million.” Blueprint Houston hopes to explore questions such as “How will the Houston area handle 1 million more in population?” and “How will Houston support and sustain its neighborhoods?” Please RSVP by Jan. 18 to [email protected] or call 713-870-2881.
  8. “…Potentially Toxic Emissions from Oil Well Blowout in Fort Bend County”State Rep. Ron Reynolds said his office has been flooded with calls from concerned residents since an oil well blowout a week ago and called news conference in response on Friday. "There are a lot of unanswered questions and we are very concerned about the situation," Reynolds said. "We intend to hold state officials accountable until this issue is resolved." Photo: Kristi Nix / HCN Staff
    (Kristi Nix, Houston Chronicle, Dec. 18, 2017, Photo by Kristi Nix)
    “On Dec. 6, 2017, first responders from Harris County and Fort Bend County HAZMAT teams were dispatched to an oil well blowout near the Fort Bend County Tollway and FM 2234. The blowout caused a chemical spill involving roughly 240,000 gallons of crude and 30,000 gallons of sludge. After the well was capped the next day, the company that operates the site, IWR Operating, LLC, called in HazMat Special Services, an environmental cleanup company from La Porte, to assist with remediation. TCEQ officials visited the site and measured hydrogen sulfide emissions from the blowout. Residents were told the air posed no health risk but warned people to stay inside and away from the smell until the remediation is complete.” However, residents near the site have complained of a foul smell that causes headaches, nausea and burning eyes, reportedly caused by Hydrogen Sulfide emissions from the blowout. Students and teachers at Blue Ridge Elementary School, located less than four miles from the site, have also reportedly voiced concerns about the air emission. Read more at chron.com.
  9. 2018 Toyota ShareLunker Program Offers More Opportunities for Anglers
    For more than 30 years, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Toyota ShareLunker Program has partnered with anglers to enhance bass fishing in Texas. This year, the program is launching Jan. 1, 2018, with a new year-round participation season and more opportunities for anglers to participate and be recognized for contributions. In addition to providing information and photos of their fish, anglers will also be able to provide a genetic sample of their largemouth bass by collecting and sending fish scales to TPWD using simple instructions from the app and website. These data will help fisheries biologists evaluate the impact of the ShareLunker breeding and stocking program in the gene pool. For more information, visit tpwd.texas.gov.
  10. 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, 2018Nesting Shrikes: The Loggerhead Shrike is a songbird with a raptor’s habits.
    • Beautiful Butterflies: Butterflies bring beauty and business to Texas each year. Are we being good hosts?
    • Outdoor Families: Texas Outdoor Family was created to help those with very little experience in nature to find the joys of the outdoors “with no experience necessary.”

Additional Upcoming Events