Houston Environmental News Update September 11, 2019

National Estuaries Week, Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza, Bill McKibben talk, State of the Park breakfast, Green Film: Hot Grease, Green Jobs, and more

Beginning this Saturday, September 14, and continuing through September 21, America celebrates National Estuaries Week, “a celebration of our bays and estuaries and the many benefits they provide to local communities.” Now in its 31st year, the event’s goals are to: create broad public awareness and support for the nation’s estuaries and coasts; encourage active engagement and participation with local estuaries through volunteer and educational events; and communicate the value and importance of our estuaries and coasts to key decision makers at the local and federal levels.

As noted by the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, “estuarine environments are among the most productive on earth, creating more organic matter each year than comparably-sized areas of forest, grassland or agricultural land. The sheltered waters of estuaries also support unique communities of plants and animals specially adapted for life at the margin of the sea.”

Of course, one of the nation’s most important estuaries is our very own Galveston Bay. As the Galveston Bay Foundation notes, the Bay is “where fresh water from the Trinity and San Jacinto Rivers and the extensive bayous and creeks of the ‘Bayou City’ and surrounding areas mix with the salty water of the Gulf of Mexico.” The Bay’s watershed, which stretches from the Oklahoma border to the Gulf, is about 24,000 square miles, and half of the state’s population lives within it. Galveston Bay is the most productive bay in Texas, the GBF notes, and is one of the most productive bays in the country, trailing only Chesapeake Bay, which is eight times its size.

Last month, the GBF and the Houston Advanced Research Center released the 2019 Galveston Bay Report Card, giving the Bay an overall grade of “C.” The Bay received a “B” for Water Quality, a “B” for Pollution Events & Sources, a “C” for Wildlife, a “D” for Habitat, a “C” for Human Health Risks, and a “C” for Coastal Change. Find the full PDF at galvebaygrade.org. (The GBF will discuss the Report Card at its quarterly membership meeting on September 19. See description below.)

The good news is, you can help. As one of the volunteer events across the nation, the GBF is partnering with the Texas General Land Office and Port of Houston on Sept. 21 for an Adopt-A-Beach cleanup of Morgan’s Point, and there’s plenty of time for you to register. It’s just one of the many cleanups along the Texas Gulf Coast in the annual Fall Adopt-A-Beach Cleanup (see description below).

The banner image is courtesy of the Galveston Bay Foundation.


Houston Green Films: Hot Grease

The Houston Green Film for September 18 will be Hot Grease (filmed in Houston), the surprising story of how the biodiesel industry is turning an ostensibly worthless raw material — spent kitchen grease — into a green energy source capable of fueling all the trains, ships, and trucks across the country (see this clip). Following the film, panelists will offer thoughts about the themes in the film and answer audience questions. Panelists include Dr. Jody Gibson from Energy Institute High School, Chris Powers, founder of Houston Biodiesel, Michael McClere from Dependable Cooking Oil, Alondra Hernandez with the Corral the Grease program through Houston Public Works and Ted Driscoll with the Cease the Grease campaign through the Galveston Bay Foundation. Socializing from 6:30 p.m., film at 7 p.m.

Wild About Houston: A Green Film Festival

Join CEC, the Houston GREEN Film SeriesRice Media Center and additional partners on October 16, 2019, for “Wild About Houston: A Green Film Festival.” We will showcase local short films that tell environmental stories. Please watch the contenders on the CEC YouTube Channel, and give a thumbs up to your favorites to see them on the big screen. Submit a film for consideration via our Google Form. Secure a ticket today, or register to host an exhibit table, via Eventbright.

Earth Day Houston

Earth Day Houston, part of the 50th worldwide observance, will be held at Discovery Green on Sunday, April 19, 2020. Opportunities to volunteer, sponsor, and exhibit will be available soon.

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. 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 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.


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

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Conference registration now open

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.  Early bird registration is now open through November 30. For more information and to register, visit cvent.com.

Surfrider Foundation Galveston meeting

On Sept. 12, 2019, beginning at 6 p.m, the Surfrider Foundation Galveston chapter will hold its monthly meeting featuring a talk by Joanie Steinhaus of Turtle Island Restoration Network about the Final Straw Galveston campaign. The meeting will be held at Devil in the Deep Brewery. For more information, see the Facebook event.

Houston Sierra Club meeting: METRONext plan

On. Sept. 12, 2019, from 7:30-9 p.m., the Houston chapter of the Sierra Club will hold its monthly meeting featuring METRO Board Chair Carrin Patman, who will discuss METRONext, the agency’s new regional transportation plan. With a bond referendum expected to be on the November ballot, now is the time to learn more about METRO’s Moving Forward Plan and the transit improvements planned for this area. The meeting will be held at St. Stephen Episcopal Church, Pecore Hall. For more information, visit sierraclub.org.

UH Energy Symposium: The New Energy Economy

On Sept. 12, 2019, beginning at 6 p.m., UH Energy will begin its 2019-20 Energy Symposium Series with “The New Energy Economy,” focusing on understanding the technological challenges and enablers, the economics and business cases for differing on responses to the growing challenge of the anthropogenic origins of climate change as well as the societal impact of the choices. For more information and to register, visit uh.edu/uh-energy.

Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza & Hummingbird Festival

On Sept. 14 and 21, from 8 a.m.-noon, the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory in Lake Jackson will host the Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza, a once-a-year opportunity to see Ruby-throated Hummingbirds during the peak of the migration season. The event features symbolic hummingbird adoptions, live hummingbird banding, informative and entertaining talks, the chance to win one of three hummingbird-themed items in a special raffle, activities for the kids, live animals at nature booths, and more. For more information, visit gcbo.org.

Kleb Woods Nature Center is hosting its annual Hummingbird Festival on Sept. 14, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. See the hummers up close while some are being banded by a licensed hummingbird bander! Learn everything you want to know about them, including identifying, attracting & gardening for hummingbirds. Also, Houston Audubon Society’s Education Director, Mary Anne Weber, will display several live raptors and answer any questions about them that you have. Learn more on the Facebook event page.

Rain Barrel Workshop at Nassau Bay

On Sept. 14, 2019, from 11 a.m-noon., the Galveston Bay Foundation will host a Rain Barrel Workshop to teach the public about the cost savings and environmental benefits of collecting rainwater, and proper rain barrel installation instructions and tips. The $35 registration fee includes one 35-gallon barrel, one connector kit, and admission to the workshop for the registrant and one guest. The workshop will be held at Nassau Bay City Hall. For more information and to register, visit galvbay.org.

The Progressive Forum presents Bill McKibben

On Sept. 15, 2019, The Progressive Forum will present environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, who will discuss the state of the climate movement. McKibben will be joined onstage by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner for a brief Q&A on climate change and planning at the local level. The event will be held at Congregation Emanu El. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit progressiveforumhouston.org.

State of the Park Breakfast

On Sept. 18, 2019, from 7:30-9:30 a.m., the Memorial Park Conservancy will host its inaugural “State of the Park Breakfast,” where it will review the previous year’s work and share the status of current and future projects in Memorial Park. Maura Lout of the Central Park Conservancy will serve as the keynote speaker. The event will be held at the Junior League of Houston. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit memorialparkconservancy.org.

Master Composter Program course at GBRC

From Sept. 19-22, 2019, the City of Houston’s Green Building Resource Center will host a Master Composter Program 20-hour training course by approved MC instructors, as well as 20 hours of volunteer community service in public compost education and awareness (within six months of completing the course). MC training courses will provide at least 16 hours of classroom time to be supplemented with four hours of hands-on training. For more information, visit codegreenhouston.org.

Air Alliance Houston’s Breakfast with Bakeyah

On Sept. 19, 2019, from 8-9:30 a.m., Air Alliance Houston executive director Bakeyah Nelson will hold a breakfast conversation with former Houston Mayor Bill White about the city’s past efforts to address the region’s air quality challenges and opportunities moving forward. The event will be held at Houston Center Real Estate, 1601 Live Oak St. To RSVP, send and email to [email protected].

2019 Galveston Bay Report Card: How Healthy is Galveston Bay?

On Sept. 19, 2019, from 5:30-8 p.m., the Galveston Bay Foundation will host its quarterly membership meeting featuring advocacy manager T’Noya Thompson, who will discuss the recently released 2019 Galveston Bay Report Card. Thompson will examine and explain the grades and factors leading up to this year”s grades. The event will be held at the Lone Star Flight Museum. For more information, visit galvbay.org.

National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration 2020 proposals due Sept. 20

The National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration (NCER) — an interactive forum for physical, biological and social scientists, engineers, resource managers, planners and policy makers to share their experiences and research results concerning large-scale ecosystem restoration on both national and international levels — will be held Aug. 2-6, 2020 in Portland, Oregon, and individuals working in the field of ecosystem restoration are invited to propose a session. The deadline for proposals in Sept. 20, 2019. For more information and to submit a proposal, visit conference.ifas.ufl.edu.

Houston Audubon’s Inaugural Bird Week

In honor of its 50th anniversary, Houston Audubon is hosting the first-ever Houston Bird Week from Sept. 21-28, 2019. Equal parts fun, education, and celebration, experience firsthand the important role Houston plays in the journey of billions of migratory birds, and the everyday life of our urban-dwelling birds.The festivities will begin with a Kick-Off Party and Bird Bird Launch at Bakfish Brewing Company, featuring the winner of the Bird of Houston contest. For a full listing of events, visit houstonaudubon.org.

2019 Wildscapes Workshop

On Sept. 21, 2019, from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m., the Houston chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas will host the 2019 Wildcapes Workshop, an educational event and local native plant sale. The event will include featured speakers providing up-to-date information on the relationship between native plants and our local wildlife and environment, and Houston’s prairie history, culture, and its future. The workshop will be held at Rice University’s Anderson-Clarke Center. For more information and to register, visit npsot.org.

Adopt-A-Beach Fall Coastal Cleanup

On Sept. 21, 2019, from 9 a.m.-noon, the Texas General Land Office is hosting the annual Fall Coastal Cleanup at beaches along the Texas Gulf Coast, including several in the greater Houston-Galveston region. For more information and to register, visit glo.texas.gov.

Katy Prairie Conservancy Guided Walking Tour

On Sept. 21, 2019, from 10-11 a.m., the Katy Prairie Conservancy will host a guided walking tour of the Ann Hamilton Trail at the Indiangrass Preserve. Participants will learn about the history and value of the coastal prairie and KPC’s role in preserving these vanishing lands. All ages are welcome. For more information, visit katyprairie.org.

Enrichment Day and Elephant Open House at Houston Zoo

On Sept. 21, 2019, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Houston Zoo will hold Enrichment Day, an opportunity to the animals enjoying special animal enrichment, Meet the Keeper Talks, games for kids, and more. Visitors will see a variety of animal enrichment activities throughout the day and learn more about what our zookeepers do behind the scenes every day of the year to keep our animals physically and mentally stimulated. There will also be an Elephant Open House on from 8 a.m-10:30 a.m. For more information, visit houstonzoo.org.

Environmental Justice Houston Mayoral Forum

The Coalition for Environment, Equity, and Resilience (CEER), in association with BakerRipley, invite you to attend a Mayoral Candidate Forum to discuss candidates’ positions and performance on issues related to environment, equity, resilience, social justice, and public health. Sept. 21, 2019, from 2 pm to 4 pm at BakerRipley’s Harbach Campus. Tickets available on Eventbrite.

The Legend of Big Bend at Discovery Green

On Sept. 21, 2019, from 8-9:30 p.m., Discovery Green will host Austin-based indie classical group Montopolis, which draws inspiration from West Texas tales and the breathtaking beauty of Big Bend National Park, in a free, family-friendly concert. The multi-media performance weaves science, history, poetry and personal stories into music accompanied by video footage of the vast high desert wilderness. For more information, visit discoverygreen.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.

  • Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists work with landowners along the Blanco River to help it recover after 2015’s massive flooding 
  • Common moorhens fight for their rights, and territory, at Brazos Bend State Park. It’s part dance, part boxing match *
  • Take to the skies with a paraglider and fly with the birds at Franklin Mountains State Park

Additional Upcoming Events