Houston Environmental News Update December 2, 2020

Christmas Bird Counts, Women and Girls STEM Summit, Sampling the City Bike Rides, Trees for Houston Giveaway, Wild Texas Film Tour, Green Jobs, and more

Roseate Spoonbill, Photo 82067018, (c) Thaddeus Charles Jones, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC)

In last week’s newsletter, which featured the Turkey Vulture, we mentioned that protections for the Vulture and other birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act might be in danger as a result of midnight regulations being pushed through before the end of the year. As reported by the Associated Press, the Trump administration proceeded on Friday to try to gut the MBTA, issuing a final Environmental Impact Statement, which is available for public review.

Read more:

If you need some cleansing breeze, check out the Turkey Vulture Rap by Joe Reilly on YouTube

We also told you that this week we’d be sharing information about Christmas Bird Counts. 

The 121st annual Christmas Bird Count is scheduled for December 14, 2020, through January 5, 2021. 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 to bird which may not be normally accessible and take advantage of this great opportunity to bird with some of our foremost birding experts. There is NO FEE to participate in Christmas Bird Counts. We encourage you to learn more about the counts–including a few dozen within a two-hour drive of downtown Houston–at HoustonAudubon.org

Unsurprisingly, adjustments are being made to the count to try reduce the risk of transferring the coronavirus. You can also participate from your yard or neighborhood as a feeder watcher. Regardless, be sure to coordinate with the compiler to find out how to participate.

You might also be interested in Houston Audubon “Bird-Vent” calendar.

The bird photos are all local iNaturalist observations made in December or January, and licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0:


Please scroll down to read about public engagement opportunities and notes from our member organizations and the community.


CEC NOTES


Houston Climate Action Plan Educational Outreach Partners Workshop

On Dec. 11, 2020, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., join CEC and the City of Houston to leverage community resources and create strategic opportunities for Houston-area youth to engage in civic conversations and actions around climate resilience. This virtual, collaborative planning workshop is for all Houston informal educators and community engagement coordinators. Details and free registration via eventbrite.com.


Virtually Wild! Field Trips

CEC is excited to partner with Houston Community Partnerships & Engagement and the National Park Foundation to deliver Virtually WILD! Join Student Conservation Association intern Emma Wilson every Tuesday and Urban Ranger Felice Yarbough every Wednesday from a different regional location. Meet the wildlife that live there, and the people working to protect them. Corresponding activities and videos for students, as well as a full schedule, are available at hereinhouston.org.


Wild About Houston Green Film Festival

The CEC was proud to host the third annual Wild About Houston Green Film Festival. You can watch all the films again, and then vote for the Fan Favorite! Watch the 2020 October and November programs on the CEC YouTube page. Tickets will be on sale soon for the Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Tour on January 29, 2021.


PUBLIC PARTICIPATION OPPORTUNITIES

Learn more about public participation opportunities at cechouston.org/public-participation-opportunities/.


Public Meetings on Coastal Texas Study

The United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Texas General Land Office recently released plans for the Draft Feasibility Report and Draft Environmental Impact Statement of the Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Study, also known as the Coastal Texas Study. Public meetings are scheduled on Dec. 3, and Dec. 8, 2020 (beginning at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. each day). The 45-day public review period continues through Dec. 14, 2020. Find the documents and information on how to access the public meetings at swg.usace.army.mil. NOTE: Several area environmental groups have created a petition to extend the public comment period. Find the petition at seaturtles.org. Watch a recent discussion on the study by those organizations here.


Through Dec. 9, 2020: North Houston (I-45) Highway Improvement Project MOU

The Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Policy Council is seeking feedback on the Memorandum of Understanding between the key cooperating entities on the proposed North Houston (I-45) Highway Improvement Project. For more information, visit ih45northandmore.com or h-gac.com. Comments will be accepted until Dec. 9, 2020.


COALITION & COMMUNITY NOTES

We have endeavored to confirm the opportunities listed below. Please consider confirming directly with the hosts, particularly in light of concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

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Houston City Council Agenda – December 1, 2020

The city will consider the following agenda items at the Houston City Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, December 1, 2020, which will be held virtually via Microsoft Teams at 1:50 PM. Public comment will be allowed Tuesday, December 1, 2020 by teleconference. This meeting will cover topics relating to the appointment of several individuals to the Houston Park Board LCG, purchases for Houston Public Works, the authorization of a grant application to a Solid Waste Grant Program, the expansion of several Municipal Utility Districts, among other topics.

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