Houston Environmental News Update June 19, 2019

I-45 Expansion Meetings, TWRC Wildlife Center photo contest, Daylight Hour Green Jobs, and more

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

Whew! The dog days of summer are finally upon us! That means it’s the perfect time for CEC’s annual mid-year review. Every year, we like to check in with our readers on you feel our region is faring in the environmental space.

At the end of last year, we asked you to let us know what you see as issues or events of importance to the greater Houston region’s environmental community for 2019. This is what you told us:

  • Kids aren’t connecting with their natural environment
  • Fewer miles driven
  • Land conservation around Houston for greenways, habitat conservation, farm land
  • What our mayor is doing to help clean up Houston dumping, and how the city is cleaning the bayous
  • Converting open lots after Harvey into spot parks or wildlife habitat
  • Flood mitigation, water resource conservation, ecological restoration, youth education events

As a community, are we making progress on these items? Have other environmental accomplishments, controversies, issues, news, or events emerged as significant for the greater Houston region? Let us know what you think.

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


CEC NOTES

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 July 17, 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 a.m.-3 p.m. at the United Way of Greater Houston’s Community Resource Center. In addition to excellent presentations, we will again offer small-format table talks. Details and registration will be available early summer 2019. The theme this year with be the Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the United Nations.
  • 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. We have heard that CEER Houston will be hosting a mayoral candidate forum on Saturday, September 21, 2019.


Interested in serving on the CEC Board or a Committee?

CEC is seeking individuals who might be interested in joining our board of directors in January 2020, or volunteering to serve on one of our committees starting this year. Over the next few months, we are hosting information sessions for prospective board and committee members to learn more about the commitment and opportunities. Upcoming sessions include the evenings of June 24, July 29, September 23, and October 15. For more information (including directions to our top secret world headquarters), please email [email protected]


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.


COALITION & COMMUNITY NOTES

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

I-45 Expansion Project Meetings

As part of the work of the City of Houston’s NHHIP Public Engagement Facilitation Group, three public meetings have been scheduled. These meetings are meant to help the City of Houston provide additional opportunities for communities to express their views about the Texas Department of Transportation’s proposed I-45 expansion project.

The meeting dates are:

  • June 20 at 3 p.m. Houston Mayor’s NHHIP Public Engagement Facilitation Group, Leonel Castillo Community Center, 2101 South Street, Houston
  • June 20 at 6 p.m. City of Houston Public Meeting on the NHHIP Harris County Department of Education, 6300 Irvington Blvd., Houston (see the notice)
  • June 26 at 6 p.m. City of Houston Public Meeting on the NHHIP (same as the June 20 meeting), Acres Home Multi-Service Center, 719 W. Montgomery Road, Houston (see the notice)

Texas GLO Disaster Recovery Mitigation Survey

Texas will receive $4.297 billion in federal disaster mitigation funds to help vulnerable communities prepare for future disasters. The Texas General Land Office is working to write a Mitigation Action Plan that outlines what types of activities will be funded, who will receive these funds, and how much funding will be available to each community. 
This survey is one of the many ways GLO is generating feedback on needs and challenges faced by communities. The survey may be used to generate an allocation methodology. Completion of this survey does not guarantee allocation of funds nor is it required to receive funding. To take the survey, visit surveymonkey.com.


Texas Wildlife Association Outreach Teacher Workshops

Through July 25 in the Houston area, the Texas Wildlife Association is offering Outreach Teacher Workshops, 6-hour hands-on trainings which introduce attendees to the TWA, in-class and outdoor L.A.N.D.S. Outreach lessons and activities, and how to incorporate natural resources into classrooms or programming. Lessons focus on teaching land stewardship, native wildlife, and water conservation and are TEKS-aligned.  This workshop is ideal for educators grades K-8 (ages 5-14) and is free.  All educators who attend and complete the workshop will receive six CPE hours. For more information and to register, visit texas-wildlife.org.


TWRC Wildlife Center’s 2019 “Wild InSight” Photo Contest begins

The TWRC Wildlife Center invites all wildlife photo snappers, hobbyists, “phone-tographers”, amateurs and professionals to enter their best photos, giving visual insight about wildlife living in the wild, to the 2019 “Wild InSight” Photo Contest and invite friends and family to vote for their favorites. Proceeds from the contest and calendar sales support TWRC’s mission to promote environmental conservation through public education and rehabilitation of Texas wildlife. There is no limit to the number of photos you may enter. Deadline to submit photos is Sept. 9, 2019. For more information, visit gogophotocontest.com.


Local Park Grants Program accepting applications in September

Eligible applicants include political subdivisions of the State of Texas legally responsible for providing public recreation services to their citizens. This includes cities, counties, river authorities, municipal utility districts, and other special districts.

Applications will be available this September via the Recreation Grants Online system through December 2, 2019. Funding recommendations will be presented to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, who makes final decisions regarding awards of program funds, in May 2020. If you have questions regarding the Local Parks Grant Program, send an email to [email protected] or call (512) 389-8224.

The Local Parks Grant Program will soon be accepting applications to assist local units of government with the acquisition and/or development of public recreation areas and facilities throughout the State of Texas. The program provides 50% matching grants on a reimbursement basis to eligible applicants. All grant assisted sites must be dedicated as parkland in perpetuity, properly maintained, and open to the public.    


Texas Environmental Professionals luncheon: Clean River Basins Report

On June 20, 2019, from 11:30-1 p.m., the Texas Association of Environmental Professionals will hold their monthly luncheon, featuring a presentation by the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Todd Running, who will give an overview of the recently released 2019 Clean River Basins Report. The luncheon will be held at the Cadillac Bar. For more information and to RSVP, visit taep.memberclicks.net.


Texas Legislature Session Wrap-Up Reception

On June 20, 2019, from 6:30-8 p.m., Texas Campaign for the Environment will host a reception with state Rep. Gene Wu to discuss the recently concluded session of the Texas Legislature. The event will be held at Mongoose Versus Cobra. For more information, see the Facebook event.


Daylight Hour on June 21 from noon-1 p.m.

Registration is open for Daylight Hour 2019, which will be held June 21. The annual global social media campaign promotes energy savings and health in the office environment. You can register your office here, turn off non-critical lights from noon-1 p.m. on June 21, bask in the daylight, and post about involvement to social media leading up to the event and after using hashtag #daylighthour and the handle @daylight_hour for Twitter and Instagram. Find helpful resources for your marketing and communications efforts here.


Houston Urban Food Conference

On June 21, 2019, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension will host the annual Houston Urban Food Conference at the University of Houston-Downtown. Tracks include Commercial, Backyard, Community Gardens, and Food/Policy/Health. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit eventbrite.com.


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.


Back the Bayous

On June 22, 2019, Bayou City Waterkeeper will host its Back the Bayous fundraiser event at Armand Bayou Nature Center. Participants will be able to hike Armand Bayou Nature Center’s forested paths, explore its wetlands, wander in coastal prairies, and take part in urban conservation. For more information, visit bayoucitywaterkeeper.org.


Ann Hamilton Trail Walking Tour

On June 22, 2019, the Katy Prairie Conservancy is offering a free walking tour of the Ann Hamilton Trail in the Indiangrass Preserve. Participants will 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.


“Local Pollution and Your Health” forum

On June 25, 2019, from 6:30-8 p.m., there will be a public meeting to address recent petrochemical pollution incidents caused by Hurricane Harvey, the ITC/Deer Park fire and the Bayport Channel ship/barge crash which spread air and water toxic emissions of benzene, xylene, butadiene, vinyl chloride and other toxic releases. The meeting will be held at the Bay Area Community Center in Clear Lake Park. For more information and to RSVP, visit eventbrite.com.


Urban Reads: Alexander Gavin

On June 25, 2019, from 7-8:30 p.m., the Kinder Institute for Urban Studies at Rice University will present urban planner Alexander Garvin, author of “The Heart of the City,” who will identify shared elements of great downtowns, offer lessons from successful and failed projects, and chart a path forward to support downtowns into the 21st century. For more information and to register, visit kinder.rice.edu.


“Soil and Food: Climate change agriculture for Houston”

On June 26, from noon-1:30 p.m., Houston Tomorrow will host a discussion about growing food in Houston as the climate changes. The featured speakers will be John Ferguson of Nature’s Way Resources on “Urban Soil Care,” and gardening author and columnist Bob Randall on “Plan B for Our Food Supply.” The forum will be held at the offices of the Houston-Galveston Area Council. Free and open to the public. RSVP to [email protected]


“Green Flood Resistance” seminar

On June 26, 2019, from 6-8 p.m., the Green Building Resource Center and the Texas chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council will host a seminar on how the built environment can help reduce flooding in the Houston area. Featured speakers will be Phil Bedient, Ph.D., of Rice University’s SSPEED Center; Ryan Bare of the Houston Advanced Research Center; and Andrew Cobb of West Street Recovery. For more information, visit codegreenhouston.org.


“Rangeland Ecology and Plateau Wildlife”

On June 26, 2019, starting at 7:30 p.m., the Houston chapter of the Native Prairies Association of Texas will hold its monthly meeting at the American Red Cross building. The featured speaker will be David Riley, staff biologist with Plateau Land & Wildlife Management, on range land ecology. For more information, visit houstonprairie.org.


Air Alliance Breakfast with Bakeyah

On June 27, 2019, beginning at 8 a.m., Air Alliance Houston will host a breakfast discussion with Executive Director Bakeyah Nelson, who will discuss the Alliance’s recently released report about potential adverse health impacts of TxDOT’s impending I-45 freeway expansion, reaction from the community, next advocacy steps, and how the public can get involved in efforts to move the region towards a more sustainable and equitable transportation future. The event will be held at the office’s headquarters at 3914 Leeland St. RSVP to [email protected] or call 713-528-3779.


Prairie Teacher Workshop

On June 27, 2019, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., the Native Prairies Association of Texas will hold a free Prairie Teacher Workshop at the Lawther-Deer Park Prairie Preserve. The workshop will use a multi-disciplinary approach to teach about the history and benefits of the coastal prairie. Extra credit hours are offered. Space is limited. RSVP to [email protected] or call 832-283-0383.


State of the City Planning

On June 27, 2019, from noon-1:30 p.m., the Houston chapter of the American Planning Association and Blueprint Houston will host a Q&A lunch session on the state of city planning in Houston. Attendees will learn how recent efforts in long-range planning for complete communities, resilience, historic preservation, parks and greenspace, and transportation are building the Houston of tomorrow. The event will be held at Texas Southern University. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com.


Regional Air Quality Planning Committee meeting

On June 27, 2019, beginning at 2 p.m., the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Regional Air Quality Planning Committee will host a regular meeting. Featured speakers will be Kevin Stewart of the American Lung Association on the “2018 State of the Air Report,” and Matt Kurla of BakerBotts with an overview of air quality concerns in the Houston-Galveston region. For more information, visit h-gac.com.


Bringing Nature Home

On June 27, 2018, from 5-7:30 p.m., the Organic Horticulture Benefits Alliance will present Doug Tallamy, author of “Bringing Nature Home,” who will discuss how sustainable biodiversity through plant choice can help implement an encouraging environment for wildlife of all kinds. The event will take place at the United Way of Greater Houston. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit ohbaonline.org.


Milby Park Cleanup

On June 28, 2019, from 9 a.m.-noon, the Natural Resources Management Program of the City of Houston’s Parks and Recreation Department will host a volunteer cleanup of the riparian restoration area at Charles H. Milby Park, 2001 Central St. Volunteers will clean up litter and plant trees. To RSVP, send an email to [email protected]


Houston Green New Deal Town Hall

On June 29, 2019, starting at 1:30 p.m., the Houston hub of the Sunrise Movement will host a Green New Deal Town Hall at the Camping Services Branch YMCA. The event will examine who stands to benefit from the Green New Deal and what’s at stake. For more information and to register, visit actionnetwork.org or the Facebook event.


Book reading: Hill Country Birds & Waters

On June 29, 2019, starting at 7 p.m., Brazos Bookstore will host a book reading and signing by Jim Blackburn and Isabelle Scurry Chapman, authors of Hill Country Birds & Water, a collection of art and poetry that celebrates the beauty of the birds that make their home between Austin and San Antonio. A paean to the peace of the Hill Country and the grace of its wildlife, the book also warns readers and calls out modern threats to spring-fed waterways and the birds that depend on them. For more information, visit brazosbookstore.com.


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.

  • Protecting Texas’ deer population is Ryan Schoeneberg’s job and passion
  • A Fort Worth artist captures a conserved habitat and its wildlife in living color
  • Hurricane-ravaged state parks are recovering from the loss of trees

Additional Upcoming Events