Houston Environmental News Update May 15, 2019

Endangered Species Day, Gulf Coast Green, Houston Bike Summit, Bay Day Festival, Green Jobs, and much more

This Friday, May 17, 2019, is Endangered Species Day. According to the Endangered Species Coalition, the occasion, created by Congress in 2006, is “an opportunity for people of all ages to learn about the importance of protecting  endangered species and everyday actions they can take to help protect them.”

This year’s Endangered Species Day comes on the heels of the recent, sobering United Nations report that the natural world “is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating.” See the full report at ipbes.net.

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has identified 99 species at risk in the thirteen counties covered by CEC. Species range from sea turtles to whooping cranes, and Houston toads to the Texas Prairie Dawn plant (photo at left by Laura Catherine Hodges).

Here on the Texas Gulf Coast, sea turtles are among our more famous endangered species. The Turtle Island Restoration Network is one of the advocacy organizations leading the charge to protect these beautiful animals. Sea turtle nest numbers are down significantly this year; happily, just in the last week, volunteers have found the year’s first two nests on the Upper Texas Coast. If you see a sea turtle on the beach, be sure not to startle her, give her distance, and call the hotline (1-866-TURTLE-5) to report it Also report any tracks or stranded sea turtles. Learn more about their work at seaturtles.org.

Houston Zoo’s Wildlife Conservation Program s world-renowned for its work on protecting wildlife across the globe, including the wild whooping crane here in Texas. Learn more about their efforts at houstonzoo.org. (See Coalition & Community Notes for an item about the upcoming grand opening of Zoo’s Katherine G. McGovern Texas Wetlands.) Program staff also works to restore native endangered species like the Houston toad. Once abundant in Harris County, the Houston toad has not been spotted in Houston in nearly 50 years. Last year, the Zoo released 1,082,000 eggs into the wild.

And lest we forget, the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, located just 60 miles west of Houston, is home to one of the last remaining populations of this critically endangered species. Find out more about these charming birds and the refuge at fws.gov.

The top infographic is courtesy of the Endangered Species Coalition.


Save the Dates: Green Films, Greater Houston Environmental Summit, Environmental Educators Exchange, Earth Day

  • Houston Green Films: Please join CEC, the Houston Green Film Series, the Rice Media Center, and additional partners on June 19, 2019, at 6:30 p.m. for conversation, networking, and a light meal, followed by a film at 7 p.m. and panel discussion at 8 p.m. Free to the public, though donations are kindly appreciated. Sign up for information about this event and other green film news at constantcontact.com. Events are held the third Wednesday of each month.
  • Greater Houston Environmental Summit: Friday, August 2, 2019, from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm at the Community Resource Center at the United Way of Greater Houston. In addition to excellent presentations, we will again offer small-format table talks. Details and registration will be available early summer 2019.
  • Earth Day Houston, part of the 50th worldwide observance, will be held at Discovery Green on Sunday, April 19, 2020.
  • The Environmental Educators’ Exchange next quarterly meeting will be on Wednesday, August 7, 2019, at 4:30 p.m. Location TBD.

Candidate Forums and Questionnaires

7 days of being engaged in the community

Are you organizing a candidate forum or questionnaire for the November 2019 election? CEC is gathering information about election-related activities within our environmental communities. Let us know what you are planning, and we’ll keep you in the loop. CEC is interested in either hosting, coordinating, and/or supporting the efforts of local environmental nonprofits leading up to the election. Send your comments to [email protected] Note: the filing deadline for the November City of Houston elections is August 26, 2019.

Networking & Field Trips for Summer Interns

Are you interested in meeting future environmental leaders and telling them about your important work? CEC will be hosting several interns this summer and would like to arrange field trip, networking, and mentorship opportunities for them. If you are interested in hosting them for a meeting or tour, please let us know. If you are interested in having your environmental interns join CEC’s interns, we’d be delighted to have them join us. Email [email protected] for more information.

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.


We have endeavored to confirm the events listed below. Please consider confirming directly with the hosts.

Houston places first in U.S. and third globally in Third Annual City Nature Challenge

Houston Audubon passes on that citizen scientists in the greater Houston-Galveston region won first place in the United States for most species identified during the Third Annual City Nature Challenge held April 26-29, 2019. Houston-area participants identified 3,367 species of flora and fauna from backyards to city parks to wildlife refuges and sanctuaries. The city took third place globally with Cape Town, South Africa, and Hong Kong coming in first and second respectively. For more details, visit houstonaudubon.org.

Registration open for SSPEED Center 2019 Conference

The SSPEED Center’s annual conference will be held on October 8-9, 2019 at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University. At this year’s event, “Post-Harvey Era: Resilient Engineering, Infrastructure & Policy”, top academic, consulting and governmental experts will present. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, City of Houston, Harris County will provide governmental updates. Early registration ends June 15. For more information and to register, visit sspeed.rice.edu.

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Conference proposals due June 21

The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Conference, with the theme “2020: A Milestone in Gulf of Mexico Research,” will be held Feb. 3-6, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. The conference will mark the 10-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. This milestone provides the opportunity to assess and synthesize just how much has been learned about oil spill and the Gulf ecosystem, explore how this wealth of research can inform regional management and policy, and begin charting a course for future research needs in the Gulf. The conference is soliciting session proposals from the community to address the conference theme and topics. The deadline to submit a proposal is June 21.

Solid Waste Workshop: A Comprehensive Look at Recycling

On May 16, 2019, from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., the Houston-Galveston Area Council will hold a Solid Waste Workshop, which will provide a comprehensive look at recycling in the region, including the timely topics of contamination and challenging markets. For more information and to RSVP, visit constantcontact.com.

Texas Association of Environmental Professionals meeting

On May 16, 2019, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., the Texas Association of Environmental Professionals will hold its monthly luncheon meeting featuring a presentation by Alan Black, operations director for the Harris County Flood Control District, on its post-Harvey activities. The luncheon will be held at the Cadillac Bar. For more information and to register, visit taep.org.

Alligators of the Big Thicket

On May 16, 2019, from 6-7 p.m., the Big Thicket Association will host its Thicket of Diversity Science Café featuring a presentation by Matthew Pyne, Ph.D., Lamar University biology professor, titled “Alligators of the Big Thicket.” Pyne and research assistant Jami Brown will present their latest research. The event will be held at the Logon Café, 3805 Calder Avenue, Beaumont.

Native Plant Society of Houston meeting

On May 16, 2019, beginning at 6:45 p.m., the Native Plant Society of Houston will hold its monthly meeting featuring a presentation by Susan Conaty and Lauren Simpson titled “Hold the Phone!: Tips for Photographing Native Plants and Wildlife with Your Smartphone” The meeting will be held at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. For more information, visit npsot.org.

Houston Bike Summit

On May 17-18, 2019, BikeHouston will host the annual Houston Bike Summit at Sawyer Yards. The event brings together all types of riders to celebrate how far the city has come and recognize what remains to make Houston a Gold Level Cycling City. The event features a panel discussion on the future of bicycling in Houston, and a free bike festival, group rides, and a street demonstration to see the potential of Houston’s roads. For more information, visit bikehouston.org.

Bike to Work Day

On May 17, 2018, the City of Houston will host Bike to Work Day, part of Bike Month. Houstonians are challenged to rethink how they commute to the places they live, work or play. Festivities begin at 7 a.m. in front of City Hall at Hermann Square, and the ride will begin to rollout at 7:30 a.m. For more information, visit houstonbikeplan.org.

Gulf Coast Green 2019 at Rice University on May 17

Gulf Coast Green 2019, sponsored by AIA Houston, will be held May 17, 2019, at the Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University. This year’s theme, “CROSSROADS: Inclusive Exchange,” will focus on how design and construction can engage the community and foster human relationships, both professional and personal. For more information and to register, visit aiah-gulfcoastgreen.org.

Gulf-Houston Regional Conservation Plan forum

As part of the implementation of the Gulf-Houston Regional Conservation Plan‘s three keys goals, Houston Wilderness is hosting a series of interactive forums throughout 2019. The next one will be held May 17, 2019, beginning at 2 p.m at the Houston-Galveston Area Council. Dr. Kelly Burks-Copes, research ecologist and project manager at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will speak on the Ecosystem Restoration projects under the Coastal Texas Study. To RSVP, click here.

Bay Day Festival

On May, 18, 2019, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., the Galveston Bay Foundation will host the annual Bay Day Festival at the Kemah Boardwalk. The family-friendly event celebrates the largest bay in Texas and one of the most productive estuaries in the country. Festival highlights include bay-themed arts and crafts, live animal demonstrations and touch tanks, a scavenger hunt, science and marine exhibits and more. Children and adults will learn about the importance of Galveston Bay in our everyday lives as they engage with a variety of local educational exhibits. For more information, visit galvbay.org.

Houston Hackathon

On May 17-18, 2019, the Houston Hackathon, an annual “civic” hackathon to solve problems that affect the greater public—such as traffic information, voter registration, or recycling programs— will be held at The Cannon. For more information and to register, visit houstonhackathon.com.

White Oak Bayou Fish-Off and Happy Trails Day

On May 18, 2019, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m., the White Oak Bayou Association will hold its annual White Oak Bayou Fish -Off competition in partnership with the Friends of Woodland Park’s Happy Trails and Hot Dogs Day. The Friends of Woodland Park will grill and provide hot dogs, chips and root beer floats staring at 11:00 a.m. Activities include games and activires for kids and guided nature tours by a Texas Master Naturalist. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit eventbrite.com.

Brews for Big Bend

On May 19, 2019, from 2-5 p.m., the Big Bend National Park Conservancy will host its annual “Brews for Big Bend” fundraiser, celebrating the park’s 75th anniversary, at 8th Wonder Brewery. Attendees are inivited to submit their favorite photos of the park for the slideshow which will be running throughout the event.  Photos submissions can be emailed to [email protected]. For more information and to register for tickets, visit bigbendfriends.org.

“Achieving Zero Waste in Houston”

On May 19, 2019, from 6-7 p.m., Christ the King Lutheran Church will present a free webinar featuring Rosanne Barone, Houston program director for Texas Campaign for the Environment called “Achieving Zero Waste in Houston and What You Can Do.” For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com.


From May 20-23, 2019, the AWEA WINDPOWER Conference will be held at George R. Brown Convention Center. For more information and to register, visit windpowerexpo.org.

Terry Hershey Bayou Stewarship Award Luncheon

On May 21, 2019, the Bayou Preservation Association will host the annual Terry Hershey Bayou Stewardship Award Luncheon at The Junior League. This year’s recipients are Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Kevin Shanely, Jackie Young, and former Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit bayoupreservation.org.

Memorial Park 101: What’s in Bloom?

On May 21, 2019, from 6-7 p.m., the Memorial Park Conservancy will hold a “Memorial Park 101” event in which MPC staff will lead a guided hike to learn what’s blooming in the park. Participants will meet in the Cullen Running Trails Center at 6 p.m. Please wear comfortable walking shoes and bring water. For more information, see the Facebook event.

National Academies’ Gulf Research Program funding LOI due May 22

The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine is offering up to $5 million in grants to improve understanding of how coastal ecosystems in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico region are affected by or interact with natural processes and human activities for the purpose of informing natural resource decision-making and management practices. This opportunity is based on a recent report, Understanding the Long-Term Evolution of the Coupled Natural-Human Coastal System: The Future of the U.S. Gulf Coast, which highlights the deep interconnections between natural processes and human activities along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Projects are expected to be directly applicable to natural resource decision-making and management practices in the Gulf region. A letter of intent is required. Submit your letter of intent by 5 p.m. ET on May 22, 2019

Clean Waters Initiative Workshop

On May 22, 2019, from 10 a.m.-noon, the Houston-Galveston Area Council will host a Clean Waters Initiative Workshop to help local governments, landowners, and residents develop effective strategies to reduce pollution in area waterways. The topic will be on-site sewage facility remediation projects. For more information, visit h-gac.com.

Restoration Agriculture and Carbon Farming

On May 22, 2019, from noon-1 p.m., Houston Tomorrow will present a brown bag discussion on how to address climate change by ending industrial agriculture. The discussion will be led by Houston Tomorrow founder David Crossley and Scott Snodgrass, farmer and co-founder of Edible Earth Resources. The event will be held at the offices of the Houston-Galveston Area Council. RSVP at [email protected]

Clean Rivers Program – Basin Steering Committee Meeting

On May 22, 2019, from 2-4 p.m, the Houston-Galveston Area Council will host a meeting of the Basin Steering Committee. Presentations include the roll-out of the 2019 Basin Highlights Report and an update on the Clean Rivers Program monitoring program and the Texas Stream Team volunteer monitoring program. Participants will also discuss strategic monitoring for targeted projects and special studies. Fore more information, visit h-gac.com.

Galveston Bay Foundation Annual Meeting

On May 22, 2019, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., the Galveston Bay Foundation will hold its Annual Meeting at The Children’s Museum of Houston. GBF and its partner organizations will discuss to oyster reef restoration efforts in Galveston Bay, including the challenges, successes, and future ventures. For more information and to register, visit galvbay.org.

Native Prairies of Texas Association meeting

On May 22, 2019, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., the Houston chapter of the Native Prairies of Texas Association will hold its monthly meeting featuring a presentation by Cassidy Johnson, biology professor at Houston Community College and president of the Coastal Prairie Partnership, titled “Plant Physiological Responses to Flooding and Drought.” The meeting will be held at the American Red Cross Building. For more information, visit houstonprairie.org.

Coastal Communities Water Quality Outreach Work Group meeting

On May 23, 2019, from 1-3 p.m., the Coastal Communities Water Quality Outreach Work Group will meet at the Brazoria County Library in Angleton. The work group helps local governments in coastal counties network with education/outreach organizations and other governments to educate their residents about simple behavior changes to reduce sources of water pollution in area waterways. The meeting is open to the public. For more information, visit coastalcommunitiestx.com.

Oyster Creek Bacteria Reduction Committee meeting

On May 23, 2019, from 3-5 p.m., the Oyster Creek Committee of the San Jacinto-Brazos Coastal Basic Bacteria Reduction Project will hold a meeting at the Brazoria County Public Library in Angleton. For more information, visit h-gac.com.

HARC’s Road to Net-Zero Energy

On May 23, 2019, from 7-8:30 p.m., The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. will host a Going Green lecture by Dr. Mustapha Beydoun, vice-president and COO at the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), along with Carolos Gamarra, HARC senior research associate, titled “HARC’s Road to Net-Zero Energy.” They will provide an overview of the unique features of HARC’s LEED Platinum building, while offering an update on the facility’s journey to becoming one of the first certified commercial Net-Zero Energy (NZE) buildings in Texas. 
The event will be held at the HARC building in The Woodlands. For more information, visit thewoodlandsgreen.org.

Katherine G. McGovern Texas Wetlands Opening at Houston Zoo

On May 24, 2019, Houston Zoo will hold the Grand Opening of the Katherine G. McGovern Texas Wetlands. The Texas Wetlands brings together three native Texas species—bald eagles, whooping cranes, and American alligators—in a lush wetland habitat. Thanks to the Endangered Species Act and the efforts of Texans, these three species, once close to extinction, now thrive in the Lone Star State. For more information, visit houstonzoo.org.

Ann Hamilton Trail Walking Tour

On May 25, 2019, from 10-11 a.m., the Katy Prairie Conservancy will host a free Walking Tour of the Ann Hamilton Trail in the Indiangrass Preserve. Visitors of all ages can learn about the history and value of the coastal prairie and KPC’s role in preserving these vanishing lands. For more information, visit katyprairie.org.

TV: Texas Parks & Wildlife

Broadcast on KUHT Channel 8 at 3 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.

  • Two mothers — a hunter and a hiker — grow a friendship and deepen their appreciation of the outdoors
  • Ranch operator Stuart Sasser is a proponent of pronghorn restoration efforts
  • The Katy Prairie Conservancy partners with nearly a dozen schools to create pocket prairies*

Additional Upcoming Events