Houston Environmental News Update May 6, 2020

World Migratory Bird Day Celebrations, Earth School, Love Mother Nature Webinar, Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Green Jobs, and more

Bird Day Live

World Migratory Bird Day 2020 celebrates “Birds Connect Our World,” the technologies we use to track birds, and how the information can inform conservation. WMBD celebrates the phenomenon of bird migrations and raises awareness of the challenges birds face during their journeys. It serves as a call to action for bird conservation and connects people to birds around the world. WMBD is officially celebrated on the second Saturday in May (May 9, 2020) in the U.S. and Canada and on the second Saturday in October in Latin America and the Caribbean. Because birds do not migrate on one day, however, events and programs are hosted year-round. Learn more about the program’s 25 year history, including information about this year’s Bird Day Live.

The greater Houston/Gulf Coast Region has some of the best birding opportunities in the world. It is late in our spring migrations, but local organizations are still providing fascinating opportunities to observe this great migration.

Virtual Bird Banding at Gulf Coast Bird Observatory

On Friday, May 8, 2020, beginning at 8 a.m., the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory will host a Virtual Bird Banding. GCBO will be filming the entire four-hour banding session on Facebook Live, so that everyone can see critical avian research while staying safe at home. For more information, see the Facebook event. (The photo of a hummingbird is courtesy Gulf Coast Bird Observatory–be sure to keep an eye out for their hummingbird extravaganza.)

Houston’s [Virtual] Celebration of World Migratory Bird Day 2020

On Saturday, May 9, 2020, Houston Audubon and the City of Houston, along with partnering organizations (including CEC), will host the first online-only Word Migratory Bird Day event. The all-day event will include activities, workshops, presentations, birding, and more. Join in on any and all of the events and activities to learn more about the importance of Houston for migratory birds and how you can celebrate, enjoy, and protect our migratory species from home. For more information, visit the Facebook event.

Virtual Global Big Day Birding Bonanza

On May 9, 2020, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center will host a Virtual Global Big Day Birding Bonanza, a challenge to birders around the world: see as many birds as you can in 24 hours. Join the Arboretum team as they try to find as many species as possible in one morning. This is a free event, but pre-registration is required to keep the group manageable. For more information and to register, visit houstonarboretum.org.

Birdathon 2020 concludes May 11

Houston Audubon’s Birdathon 2020 continues through May 11, 2020. with a few modifications. Although the sanctuaries are closed through at least April 30 (check the website for updates), you can bird near your home or at local parks while following CDC guidelines for the prevention of COVID-19. You can also bird digitally through Audubon’s webcams and live sanctuary broadcasts. Individuals and teams are competing to observe the most bird species–and raise the most money as part of this important fundraiser for Houston Audubon. Even if you don’t participate, it’s worth a visit to the Birdathon website to see the clever names of the teams, including Masked Canaries, Vireo Killed the Radio Star, Socially-distanced Sandpipers, and Nighthawks At The Diner. While you are there, you can make a donation.

Please scroll down to read notes from our member organizations and the community.


Superpowers Sessions for environmental educators

Join fellow environmental educators in Houston on Fridays in May for short, “superpowers” sessions, sponsored by the CEC. Walk away with new knowledge and new friends. Open to any educator to network, learn and share resources. These are 10-minute presentation on local topics, followed by 15 minutes of Q&A and community-building time. The sessions are offered at two times on the same day (10 a.m. and 3 p.m.) to ensure smaller groups and more opportunity to connect with fellow environmental educators in Houston. May 8: “Tech Tools Used by Teachers,” hosted by Lisa Gianukos and Amanda Brown of Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation; May 15: “Nine Natives”, hosted by Della Barbato of Native Prairies Association of Texas; May 22: “Microplastics in the Gulf,” hosted by Janice Walden of Friends of Greene. Details and registration on this Google Form.

Greater Houston Environmental Summit – Call for Presenters

Share the story of your environmental work and inspire our community to take action! CEC is soliciting proposals for table talk hosts and presenters for the Greater Houston Environmental Summit on Friday, August 7, 2020. Learn more and submit your proposal using this Google Form. Proposals due May 15, 2020.

CEC Volunteer Info Session May 19 will be held online

CEC seeks individuals who might be interested in volunteering to help with our website and newsletter, plan events, design graphics, serve on one of our committees (programs, communications, finance, fundraising and development, membership, and governance) this year, or possibly joining our board of directors in January 2021. Upcoming info sessions include the evenings of May 19 (online) and June 30. For more information, please email rachel@cechouston.org, or join us online at Google Hangouts.


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).

HARC research on COVID-19 impact on regional air quality

The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) is providing scientific analysis on how the COVID-19 pandemic, social distance measures, and changes in daily behavior continue to effect environmental, societal and economic outcomes. In the latest release, HARC examines how the pandemic has affected air quality in the greater Houston-Galveston region. Read the analysis at harcresearch.org.

HCFCD proposal for Champions Stormwater Detention Basin

On January 30, 2020, the Harris County Flood Control District closed on the purchase of 27.6 acres of land, including the Raveneaux Clubhouse grounds. In February, the District will began discussions with the Cypress Forest Public Utility District regarding an agreement to acquire the remaining acreage that primarily makes up the golf course. The District recently posted a video showing an example of what the Champions Stormwater Detention Basin could look like. In response to public input about the video, an updated list of frequently asked questions and answers is now available on the website by visiting hcfcd.org. Learn more about the project here.

RESTORE Council issues 10-year Deepwater Horizon Commemoration Report

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration (RESTORE) Council recently released a report commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The report includes sections on the background, the RESTORE Act, accomplishments, and looking ahead. To read the full report, visit restorethegulf.gov.

Earth School now in session

The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and TED-Ed have launched Earth School, the biggest online learning initiative in UNEP’s history. Available for free in 11 languages, Earth School is an immersive 30-day program which provides access to the best educational content from the United Nations, National Geographic, BBC, World Wildlife Foundation, and more. To learn more, visit ed.ted.com.

Children’s Solar Hour with Solar United Neighbors

On May 6, 2020, beginning at 3:30 p.m., Solar United Neighbors will present a webinar especially designed for elementary-aged children to learn all about solar energy, complete with songs and science lessons. For more information and to register, visit zoom.us.

Natural Resources Advisory Committee Meeting

On May 7, 2020, from 1:30-3:30 p.m., the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Natural Resources Advisory Committee will meet via webinar. The Natural Resources Advisory Committee serves as a forum to advise the H-GAC Board and local decision-makers on policy issues affecting natural resources in the 13-county region. To obtain login information for this meeting, or to sign up to make a public comment, contact Kathy.Janhsen@h-gac.com.

Love Mother Nature Webinar

On May 7, 2020, beginning at 5 p.m. the Organic Horticulture Benefits Alliance will host a webinar called “Love Mother Nature,” featuring OHBA President Mike Serat, who will sdiscuss how a healthy environment and clean foods are paramount to our health. Join the webinar at zoom.us (Meeting ID: 774 7534 2842).

EarthxFilm Festival

The EarthxFilm Festival, featuring several award-winning environmental films, will begin livestreaming on May 8, 2020. See the event trailer. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit earthx.org.

Shred It EMC

On May 9, 2020, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m., the East Montgomery County Improvement District will host the fifth annual “Shred It EMC” paper-recycling event at the EMCID Complex parking lot, located at 21575 U.S. Highway 59 North (at the Grand Parkway) in New Caney. The event will be held unless otherwise prohibited by county, state, or federal orders. Guests wishing to recycle do not have to get out of their cars to recycle as the items will be removed from the vehicle and shredded on-site. For more information, visit emctx.com.

The Mercer Society’s Virtual Mother’s Day Plant Sale

On May 9-10, 2020, beginning at 9 a.m., The Mercer Society will hold its first online-only Mother’s Day Plant Sale benefiting Mercer Botanic Gardens. Online orders can be placed anytime between 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 9, and 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 10, while plants remain in stock. Shoppers will receive a curbside pickup time to retrieve their orders the week after the virtual plant sale concludes. For more information, see the Facebook event.

Virtual Wild & Scenic Film Festival

From May 11-15, 2020, the Bayou Land Conservancy will host the Virtual Wild & Scenic Film Festival. Selected films will cover a variety of environmental topics and offer spectacular scenery, breathtaking journeys, and stories of human connections. You can receive a FREE link to this year’s festival by subscribing to the Bayou Land Conservancy newsletter at bayoulandconservancy.org.

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council meeting

On May 12, 2020, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., the Advisory Council of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary will hold hold a virtual meeting. The agenda will focus on the recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding sanctuary expansion. A public comment period begins at 11 a.m. via the webinar. Note: Meeting comments are not part of the public record for the expansion proposal. Comments regarding sanctuary expansion may be submitted at regulations.gov. To register for the webinar, visit gotowebinar.com.

Virtual Lunch Bunch: Local Impacts of Climate Change

On May 13, 2020, from noon-1 p.m., Mercer Botanic Gardens will hos a Virtual Lunch Bunch presentation by Hans F. VanBrackle, Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) volunteer and liaison for Texas’ Second Congressional District. He will discuss impacts, challenges, and causes of climate change. For more information, see the Facebook event.

Public comment sought on TCEQ’s draft 2020 Annual Monitoring Network Plan

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is seeking public comment on its draft 2020 Annual Monitoring Network Plan. The Plan provides information on the current TCEQ ambient air monitoring network established to determine compliance with federal monitoring requirements specified in 40 Code of Federal Regulations Part 58 and its appendices. Written comments about the Plan may be submitted any time during the 30-day public comment period until 5 P.M. on May 14, 2020. To learn more and to submit comments either by mail or electronically, visit tceq.texas.gov.

Galveston Bay Foundation Annual Meeting (online)

On May 14, 2020, beginning at 7 p.m., the Galveston Bay Foundation will hold its Annual Meeting, featuring a virtual Q&A with Jack Davis, Ph.D. about his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea. The book is a comprehensive environmental history of the Gulf of Mexico that brings crucial attention to Earth’s 10th-largest body of water, one of the planet’s most diverse and productive marine ecosystems. For more information and to register, visit zoom.us.

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council application date extended to May 14

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is seeking applicants for one seat on its advisory council, a community-based group of individuals that provide advice for sanctuary management. The sanctuary is accepting applications for one Oil and Gas Industry seat. Candidates are selected based on their expertise and experience in relation to the seat for which they are applying, community and professional affiliations, and views regarding the protection and management of marine resources. Applicants who are chosen as members should expect to serve 3-year terms. The deadline for applications for this recruitment cycle has been extended to May 14, 2020

Call for Presentations: EPA Region 6 Stormwater Conference

The EPA Region 6 Stormwater Conference, with the theme “Weathering the Storm: Resiliency and Protection through Design,” will be held Aug. 9-13, 2020 in New Orleans. The organizing committee is seeking proposals for presentations, and is particularly interested in case studies or implementation examples from MS4s. The deadline for abstracts is May 15. For more information on how to submit a proposal, visit tamuk-isee.com.

Virtual Bay Day Festival 2020

On May 16, 2020, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., the Galveston Bay Foundation will hold its annual Bay Day Festival virtually on its website and Facebook page. Exhibitors will provide educational videos of their exciting exhibits and participants will learn about the importance of Galveston Bay in our everyday lives. For more information, see the Facebook event.

Virtual Walk for The Woods Project

In response to COVID-19, The Woods Project is transitioning to a VIRTUAL Walk experience.  The Walk celebration will take place between May 15-17, 2020.  Anytime during the 3-day event, participants will stroll, bike, and/or treadmill 3 miles in and around their homes and neighborhoods. TWP students are facing unprecedented situations and need The Woods Project opportunities to develop the critical skills needed to navigate and overcome challenges. For more information and to register, visit secure.qgiv.com.

Texas Regional Adaptation Leadership Award nominations due May 21

The American Society of Adaptation Professionals‘s Regional Adaptation Leadership Award recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves in the climate change adaptation field through exceptional leadership. It recognizes the fact that deliberate, proactive adaptation, preparedness, and resilience-building is a change process, a deviation from business-as-usual, and a courageous act of doing something new and different. Nominations for this year’s Texas Regional Adaptation Leadership Award are due May 21, 2020. For more information and to submit nominations, visit adaptationprofessionals.org.

Don’t Mess With Texas Art Contest entries due May 29

Keep Texas Beautiful and the Texas Department of Transportation invite Texas students in kindergarten through twelfth grades to submit their best litter prevention-inspired artwork to be considered for the Don’t Mess With Texas Calendar. Students with the top 14 designs will have their work featured in the calendar. Students who create the top 14 winning designs will have their artwork assigned to a month or featured on the cover of the 2021 Don’t mess with Texas calendar, among other prizes. Submissions must be postmarked no later than May 29, 2020. For more information, visit ktb.org.

NOAA Ocean Guardian School Program

Applications are now being accepted for participation in the 2020-2021 NOAA Ocean Guardian School program, in which PreK-12 students can use school- or community-based projects to help make a difference in the health and protection of their local watersheds, the ocean and special ocean areas like national marine sanctuaries (including Texas’s own Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary). There are opportunities for schools to participate with or without funding. Applications must be submitted via email by June 1, 2020. For more information, visit noaa.gov.

Public input sought on proposed Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary expansion

NOAA is issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking to expand Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. The proposal would expand the sanctuary from 56 square miles to 160 square miles to protect additional critical habitat in the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed rule for expansion would add 14 additional reefs and banks to the sanctuary. NOAA is inviting the public to provide input on any aspect of the notice of proposed rulemaking during a public comment period ending on July 3, 2020. The sanctuary will also host three virtual public meetings so that people can learn more about the proposal and submit comments, on June 8 and June 11. Additional information on the proposed rule and how to make comments is available on the expansion website

Ocean Awareness Art Contest

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs invites students ages 11-18 to participate in the worldwide Ocean Awareness Art Contest by submitting visual art, film, interactive/multimedia, music, poetry, or prose that explores the theme Climate Hope: Transforming Crisis. Climate Hope asks for stories that will energize us and accelerate action and collaboration to take on the climate crisis. The deadline to participate is June 15, 2020. For full details, visit bowseat.org.

Alliance for Water Efficiency launches Learning Landscape Grant Program

The Alliance for Water Efficiency has launched its Learning Landscape Grant Program and released its Learning Landscape Lessons. The Learning Landscapes grant program supports building or improving educational outdoor spaces that allow school-age children to experience hands-on, applied learning about the water our landscapes consume. The Learning Landscape Lessons includes three school lessons focused on outdoor water efficiency that align with Next Generation Science Standards for grades 3-8. Learn more about this program and request the application packet and lessons here. The application period is open until June 30, 2020.

Call for abstracts: 2020 Bays and Bayous Symposium

The 2020 Bays and Bayous Symposium will be held Dec. 1-3, 2020 in Biloxi, Mississippi. The theme for symposium is “Sound Science, Sound Policy: A 2020 Vision for the Future.” The symposium focuses on (but is not limited to) coastal science research, education and outreach in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Scientists from universities, NGOs and government agencies share their research findings at the event, and leaders from coastal municipalities showcase their resilience and conservation efforts. The call for abstracts is open. Individuals wishing to present must submit an abstract no later than 5 p.m., Monday, Sept. 7. For more information, visit baysandbayous.org.

Houston Public Works asks public to “Corral the Grease”

In response to COVID19 control measures, Houstonians are cooking at home more and have increased their use of disinfectant wipes. While these measures may help control the COVID19, they can also increase the number of sewer overflows, harming public health and the environment. The main cause of sanitary sewer overflows in Houston is clogged pipes from fats, oils, and grease poured down kitchen sinks and wipes flushed down toilets. Houston Public Works needs your help to prevent these harmful sewer overflows from occurring.

The best method to reduce sanitary sewer overflows is to ensure Houstonians are putting grease and wipes in their place – the trash, never down the drain. For more information on how to safely get rid of grease, please visit publicworks.houstontx.gov.

COVID-19 Registry seeks public’s input

The COVID-19 Registry, a new project spearheaded by Rice University with partnering organizations, is a research study that provides real-time information to health departments on the spread of COVID-19, who is being affected, and how. The registry will help to: track virus spread over time and across geography; measure economic and health impacts; understand behavior in response to policy changes; and identify popular and effective sources of information. Data from the registry will be stored in a highly secure system built by Rice University. Things learned from the registry will be published, but will not include any information that would identify participants. For more information and to take the survey, visit rice.edu.

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.

  • New research is revealing more information about the gargantuan gar, the largest freshwater fish lurking in Texas lakes and rivers, and these misunderstood monsters of the deep are starting to get some respect
  • Quail are the most imperiled game bird in Texas. Their survival means the survival of small towns like Roby, which depends on hunting dollars. That’s the mission of the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch; a place dedicated to study every factor that impacts quail abundance, which in turn, helps all grassland songbirds
  • Ethel was the very first bass in the ShareLunker Program. She became a symbol of how good management and forward thinking could drive conservation efforts to wonderful results

Additional Upcoming Events