Houston Environmental News Update January 10, 2018

This coming Monday we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition to recognizing Dr. King’s leadership in nonviolent civil rights activism, the day is a designated National Day of Service. You can learn more about  Dr. King, #MLKDay, and the power of service at MLKDay.gov.

Local environmental groups in the Houston region offer a vast array of opportunities to volunteer and to serve our community. One of my favorite calls are inquiries about volunteer opportunities: with a community of almost 150 member organizations, we can suggest great volunteer opportunities for everyone. Here are some of my favorite resources for finding local environmental volunteering opportunities:

  • VolunteerHouston.org–opportunities with CEC and several of its member organizations, including Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy, Mercer Botanic Garden, TWRC Wildlife Center, Memorial Park Conservancy, Nature Discovery Center, Recipe for Success, Armand Bayou Nature Center, BikeHouston Galveston Bay Foundation, Hermann Park Conservancy, and the Houston Chapter of the Native Prairies Association of Texas.
  • VolunteerMatch.org–Many organizations, including most of the above, also post opportunities on this national site, where you can search for both local and virtual opportunities.
  • Serveforgood.org–A resource developed by local teens for teens.
  • EarthShare of Texas provides, among other things, suggestions for corporate volunteer groups.

Speaking of volunteering… You may have heard about the record number of cold-stunned sea turtles that have been rescued along Texas beaches during the cold weather last week–the Houston Chronicle has reported on the situation. Volunteers were critical to finding and rescuing the hundreds of turtles that were cold stunned. Turtle Island Restoration Network’s Gulf Coast Program has been sharing information about the event on facebook. If you are interested in helping with future patrolling efforts–either during cold event or during nesting season–you might consider becoming a trained volunteer. Learn more about and sign up for upcoming trainings in February at the sea turtle patrol website.

Banner Photo Notes: A cold-stunned green sea turtle warms up at the ARK (Animal Rescue Keep) in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo by Earl Nottingham, TPWD.

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.
Tickets available on Eventbrite.

What does 2018 hold?

We invite you to share hopes and predictions for our greater Houston environment in 2018. Last year, our readers hoped to see Houston and Harris County commit ‘serious money to flood protection’, increased recycling, enforcement of EPA standards, work towards a comprehensive state water plan, and increased transparency pertaining to illegal dumping, industrial toxic emissions, and rail transport of highly dangerous materials.

Please take just a few moments to share your thoughts using our short survey. We’ve already heard from several people, and we’d like to hear from you, too.


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. Texas Supreme Court to Consider Single-Use Bag Ordinances
    On Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, the Texas Supreme Court will be the first state supreme court in the country to take up a case on the legality of local single-use bag ordinances. An array of friend of the court briefs defending local bag ordinances were filed representing such diverse interests as cotton ginners, the cities of Houston and Galveston, recycling and compost businesses, a Republican elected official, anglers, retailers, a cattleman, Texans for Clean Water, Environment Texas, Texas Campaign for the Environment, and Turtle Island Restoration Network.  The briefs are posted at www.search.txcourts.gov. If you can’t make it in person, you can watch the arguments online. More information on that is available at: http://www.texasbarcle.com/CLE/TSC.asp.
  2. One More Warbler: A Life with Birds with Victor Emanuel
    On Jan. 11, 2018, join Houston Audubon for one of their excellent speaker events, this time featuring Victor Emanuel. In addition to being an acclaimed, award-winning, and internationally recognized advocate for birds and conservation, Mr. Emanuel was the executive director–possibly the first–of the CEC in the early 1970s. Just sayin’. Learn more at houstonaudubon.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. Come visit the CEC booth!
  4. Air Alliance Houston’s State of the Air Galaimage_1513109819.png
    The State of the Air Gala will take place Wednesday, Feb. 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 jennifer@cateproctor.com.
  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 Martha@blueprinthouston.org or call 713-870-2881.
  8. Milby Park Volunteer Day
    Join the the Student Conservation Association and HPARD’s Natural Resources Management Program for a volunteer tree planting event on Jan. 27, 2018, from 9:00AM-12:00PM at Milby Park (2001 Central St, Houston, TX 77017). The Milby Park restoration project on Sims Bayou began in the spring of 2017. Volunteers and SCA crews planted approximately 2,000 trees, but help is needed to continue planting and to replace trees that have died. To register, please email naturalresources@houstontx.gov.
  9. The Houston Climate Forum 2018 – Texas’ 7th District Congressional Candidates
    On Sat., Jan. 27, 2018, 12:30pm-4pm, join Congressman Beto O’Rourke and Texas’ 7th District Congressional Candidates–Joshua Butler, James Cargas, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, Laura Moser, Ivan Sanchez, Alex Triantaphyllis, and Jason Westin, M.D.–to learn about Congressional Candidate positions related to climate, energy, and environmental issues and solutions, nationally and locally, in an open forum. Bring your questions to this meeting at Rice University’s Keck Hall. The forum will be moderated by Daniel Cohan, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at Rice. Hosted by 350.org-Houston, Pantsuit Republic-Houston Climate and Environmental Racism Committee (CERC), Indivisible-Houston, and Texans For Climate Change Action. Learn more and RSVP on eventbrite.
  10. Book Your Spring 2018 Eco-Art Workshop and Adventure Now!
    In workshops, the Artist Boat works with concepts such as non-point source pollution and wetland functions. Students also create a watercolor portrait of a native animal from Galveston Bay. Adventures optimize experiential learning to explore estuarine ecology, plein-air painting, water quality, and paddling safety. Workshops and adventures are TEKS aligned, apply to S.T.E.A.M.-based learning, and provide 6 hours of field lab to your students. Visit artistboat.org or email arinehart@artistboat.org for more information.
  11. Volunteers Needed for Texas STEM Conference
    Conference volunteers are needed for this year’s upcoming Texas STEM Conference Feb. 1-3, 2018, in Galveston. The conference provides an opportunity to learn about the most cutting-edge STEM Technologies and STEM Best Practices, maximize STEM Leadership Capacity, and about developing Successful Partnerships. If you volunteer to work 1/2 a day, you can get into the rest of the conference for free! Shifts are available all day Thursday and Friday and 1/2 day on Saturday. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Sally Wall at (281) 728-0204. Visit the homepage of the 11th Annual Texas STEM Conference for information.
  12. President’s Environmental Youth Award
    The President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) recognizes outstanding environmental projects by K-12 youth. The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Apply or encourage a student you know to apply for PEYA and see what a difference they can make for the environment with an award-winning project. Applications are due by March 1, 2018. For more information, visit epa.gov/education.
  13. Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators
    The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students. Up to two teachers from each of EPA’s 10 regions, from different states, will be selected to receive this award. Applications are due by March 1, 2018. For more information, visit epa.gov/education.
  14. EPA Environmental Education Grants (Deadline March 15, 2018)
    Under the Environmental Education Local Grants Program, EPA seeks grant proposals from eligible applicants to support locally-focused environmental education projects that promote environmental awareness and stewardship and help provide people with the skills to take responsible actions to protect the environment. This grant program provides financial support for projects that design, demonstrate, and/or disseminate environmental education practices, methods, or techniques. EPA will award three to four grants in each of EPA’s ten Regions, for no less than $50,000 and no more than $100,000 each, for a total of 30-35 grants nationwide. Proposals are due March 15, 2018. Proposals are due by March 15, 2018. The full solicitation notice sis posted at www.grants.gov and at http://www.epa.gov/education/environmental-education-ee-grant-solicitation-notice.
  15. New Educational Resource for Kids by the National Ocean Service
    NOAA’s National Ocean Service has just launched its new Just For Kids page! There, you can explore NOAA activities and resources for children, including videos, group activities, origami, outdoor and tabletop challenges, and a bunch of other projects that are fun, entertaining, and educational. Activities teach concepts such as marine debris, weather science, and oil spills and population.
  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.
    • Eye in the Sky*: See how biologists use satellite transmitters to learn about the lives and habits of Texas wildlife.
    • Saving Prairies*: The pristine coastal prairie landscape is disappearing at a rapid rate in Texas. Meet some of these people who are working to restore coastal prairies back to Texas.
    • Sheldon Lake*: Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center is an oasis for both wildlife and people, just minutes from Downtown Houston.

Additional Upcoming Events