Houston Environmental News Update May 12, 2021

Urban Monsters, Pinkladies, Bike Month events, Future of Energy Economy, Bay Day, Bird Bash, Green Jobs and more

The Urban Monsters image–and the Alligator Snapping Turtle event it is promoting–is just too irresistible to not give it top billing.

On Thursday, May 13, 2021, at 7 p.m., join the North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group and Turtle Survival Alliance for a free, one-hour webinar. Register on Zoom.

Did you know that the United States’ 4th largest city is home to the largest freshwater turtle in North America? Living within its murky bayous, the Alligator Snapping Turtle is arguably Houston, Texas’ most awe-inspiring resident. With a truly prehistoric appearance, featuring a set of one of nature’s most powerful jaws, the Alligator Snapping Turtle is in a class of its own. And, Houston is home to one of the most robust populations of it in the United States—unusual, yet fitting for one of the country’s most robust cities. Learn all about TSA’s long-term research and conservation program for the Alligator Snapping Turtle in Houston, Texas, by joining Jordan Gray and Eric Munscher for “Urban Monsters: Alligator Snapping Turtles in the Bayou City,” a FREE webinar.

The Turtle Survival Alliance, a global turtle conservation organization, recently announced the capture, tagging, and release of the 100th Western Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) in Buffalo Bayou, Houston, Texas. The capture of this specimen represents a milestone for the TSA’s conservation initiative for this State Threatened species. The 99th turtle to be released was given the nickname “J.J. Watt” in honor of the former Houston Texans defensive end who donned the No. 99.

While the alligator snapping turtle was not among the species observed in the region as part of the City Nature Challenge 2021, the Houston-Galveston region did extraordinarily well. 1,206 observers made 33,524 observations of 3,357 species. That’s tops in Texas for species and observers, and in the top 6 worldwide in all three categories. Worldwide, 52,736 together made almost 1.3 million observations, identifying 45,612 species. It’s an awe-inspiring collaborative effort.

Photo of Pinkladies Oenothera speciosa, the most observed species in the region during the City Nature Challenge. (c) LBuffum, some rights reserved (CC BY)

CEC NOTES

Virtually Wild! Field Trips

Join the Environmental Educators Exchange for the last virtual meeting of the Spring on May 7 at 9:00 a.m. Email alicia@cechouston.org for the Google Meeting Link.


Environmental Educators Exchange

Let’s celebrate, educators! Bring your family and a friend to City Orchard, 1201 Oliver Street, on May 14, 2021 from 5-7 p.m. to hang out on the patio. Enjoy cool drinks, good food and celebratory fellowship. At 7 p.m., we’ll walk or drive a short mile to the Waugh Street Bat Colony to see (and smell) the bat emergence at dusk.


Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers

Engage your students with lessons outdoors. Over 30 workshops are in the regional summer professional development calendar to connect you with local resources. Sign up today at hereinhouston.org.


Celebrate Earth Month by shopping at H-E-B and supporting local environmental charities

Add your $1, $3, $5, or $10 donation to EarthShare of Texas at checkout in stores and online at H-E-B & Central Market. EarthShare of Texas supports 38 Texas-based environmental and conservation nonprofits, including the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition. April 14-May 25, 2021.
#MyEarthMyTexas #EarthMonth #EarthWeek #EarthDay #ShopLocal #HelpingHere #Texas


Please scroll down to read about public engagement opportunities and notes from our member organizations and the community.


OPPORTUNITIES FOR PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT


Environmental Justice Advisory Council Meetings

The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, a federal advisory committee to EPA which provides advice and recommendations about broad, cross-cutting issues related to environmental justice will hold a virtual public meeting on June 17, 2021, beginning at 11:30 a.m. CST. Learn more and register at epa.gov. Also, the newly formed White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, which will advise on how to increase the federal government’s efforts to address current and historic environmental injustice through strengthening environmental justice monitoring and enforcement, will hold a virtual public meeting on May 13, 2021, beginning at noon CST. Learn more and register at epa.gov.


San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group to hold Pre-Planning Meeting

On May 18, 2021, from 6:30-7:30 p.m., the Texas Water Development Board Region 6’s San Jacinto Flood Planning Group will hold a Pre-Planning Meeting to gather community concerns to aid with the development of the regional flood plan. Find meeting materials at twdb.texas.gov and register at zoom.us.


Public comment period for the Draft 2022 State Water Plan open through May 26

The Texas Water Development Board will receive public comments on the Draft 2022 State Water Plan until 5 p.m. on May 26, 2021. The TWDB will publish notice in the Texas Register on April 23, 2021, of the Board’s intent to adopt the 2022 State Water Plan later this summer. The Board will receive public comment on the Draft 2022 State Water Plan at a hearing to be held on May 24, 2021, at 1 p.m. The hearing will be held in Austin at the Stephen F. Austin Building, 1700 North Congress Avenue, Room 170, and via GoToWebinar. The draft plan and additional information about the hearing are posted on the TWDB website.


COALITION & COMMUNITY NOTES

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).


Biden-Harris administration outlines “America the Beautiful” initiative

Last week, the Biden-Harris administration released a report titled “America the Beautiful,” which outlines its vision for how the United States can work collaboratively to conserve and restore the lands, waters, and wildlife that support and sustain the nation. The recommendations outline a locally led and voluntary nationwide conservation goal to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. The report, submitted to the National Climate Task Force, calls for a decade-long effort to support locally led and voluntary conservation and restoration efforts across public, private, and Tribal lands and waters in order to create jobs and strengthen the economy’s foundation; tackle the climate and nature crises; and address inequitable access to the outdoors. Find the report at doi.gov.


Headwaters to Baywaters: A Story of Urban Resilience” launches

Bayou Land Conservancy, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Galveston Bay Foundation, Houston Audubon, and Katy Prairie Conservancy have launched Headwaters to Baywaters: A Story of Urban Resilience, an interactive website which explains the scientific importance of riparian corridors and the organizations’ conservation efforts to preserve them in the Houston-Galveston Region. The story map allows the user to learn about the importance of riparian corridors in the Houston region, explore maps showing the myriad riparian corridors in the area, and take a closer look at the science behind their benefits. The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) provided the scientific analysis and developed the story map for the ongoing study. The Headwaters to Baywaters Initiative works to connect regional bayous and Galveston Bay through planning to identify high quality, riparian habitats with the potential to contribute to water quality improvements; restoration and enhancement of riparian lands adjacent to targeted priority areas; and acquisition of land and designation of conservation easements on priority areas for riparian corridor protection. It is part of the 8-county Gulf-Houston Regional Conservation Plan, facilitated by Houston Wilderness.


$12 Million Approved for GulfCorps to Create More Jobs, Restore Thousands of Acres of Habitat

The RESTORE Council recently voted to approve $11.9 million for NOAA to continue the award-winning GulfCorps program for four more years. New and returning corps members will be hired into short-term conservation jobs and training this fall. The funding, along with valuable local and regional partnerships, will lead to almost 250 jobs for young adults to work, gain skills, and graduate from the program. They will help restore and manage more than 6,400 acres of habitat across the Gulf of Mexico coast. Partners are taking additional measures, including working to expand capacity in their programs, potentially leading to a total of 400 or more jobs over four years. NOAA will continue its key partnerships with The Nature ConservancyThe Corps Network, and Student Conservation Association, which all supported the first four years of the program. Local and regional partnerships with a robust group of organizations representing areas in all five Gulf states from Florida to Texas, will also continue. Read the full story at noaa.gov.


May is Bike Month

Bike Houston, in partnership with with LINK Houston and Houston BCycle, presents the Houston Bike Summit, starting May 11, 2021. Check out the full details at houstonbikesummit.org. Also visit the League of American Bicyclists website and the Houston-Galveston Area Council compilation of Bike Month events, in addition to the Houston Bike Summit:


Air Alliance Houston seeks Air Quality Advocates Committee members

Air Alliance Houston is seeking members for its recently formed Air Quality Advocates Committee, mission is to “educate Houstonians, empower communities and mobilize advocates to influence public policies that improve air quality.” If you would like to meet other like-minded individuals who are also inspired by Air Alliance Houston’s belief that everyone has a right to breathe clean air and that where you live, work, learn and play should not determine your health; would like to gain nonprofit board or committee experience; and have skills/expertise (community outreach, accounting, communications, etc.) that you’d like to contribute to further the cause of clean air and environmental justice, send your resume along with a brief email about your interest in the “Air Quality Advocates Committee” to Cassandra@AirAllianceHouston.org.


Houston 2020 Visions Lecture Series: Future of the Energy Economy

On May 13, 2021, from 6-7:15 p.m., AIA Houston will host a Houston 2020 Visions panel discussion examining how Houston has the opportunity to take the lead in regenerative solutions and a restorative economy. What if instead of using fewer (or cleaner) fossil fuels, Houston designed a community and economy that could operate entirely on renewable energy? What if the city’s planners and scientists developed landscapes, agricultural systems, and technologies to transfer carbon from the atmosphere (where it contributes to climate change) back to the earth (where it can accelerate the restoration of depleted soil)? For more information and to register, visit aiahouston.org.


Houston Audubon Speaker Event: Artist Jane Kim

On May 13, 2021, beginning at 7 p.m., Houston Audubon will hold a special virtual speaker event with artist Jane Kim, whose work explores the wonders of the natural world. She will speak about her artistic journey, including the iconic Wall of Birds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the new Confluence mural in downtown Houston. Richard Gibbons, Houston Audubon’s conservation director, will discuss the different groups of birds represented on the mural and the challenges they face in the Houston Gulf region. For more information and to register, visit houstonaudubon.org.


Houston Sierra Club meeting: Artist Boat, Galveston Coastal Heritage Preserve

On May 13, 2021, from 7:30-9 p.m., the Sierra Club Houston Group will host its monthly meeting virtually. Karla Klay, executive director of Artist Boat, will discuss the organization’s 17-year-long quest to bring thousands of youth outdoors to provide inspiration and environmental education through unique coastal experiences, and their effort to form the Coastal Heritage Preserve on West Galveston Island. For more information, see the Meetup event.


Call for Presenters for Gulf Coast Green 2021 now open

The Gulf Coast Green 2021 Symposium and Expo will be held Aug. 5-6, 2021 and will explore the theme “Environmental Equity.” AIA Houston welcomes presentations that relate to equity in design, environmental justice, health and wellness, placemaking, public policy, and community resilience. Presentations should be geared toward attendees with an intermediate to high level of knowledge on sustainability topics and design-related equity and inclusion. Submissions on other topics related to the art and science of sustainability and design equity are encouraged and will be categorized as appropriate. Submissions are due May 15. For submission guidelines and other information, visit aiahouston.org.


Biodiversity Hike

On May 15, 2021, beginning at 8:30 a.m., join Nature Heritage SocietyHarris County Precinct One, and Houston Parks Board for a biodiversity hike at the Hill at Sims. Enjoy exploring this future Precinct One park in the Sunnyside, South Acres/ Crestmont Park while taking part in a bioblitz. Help shape the future of this park and learn more about the project here. To register, check in the day of the event at the Bessie Swindle Community Center, 11800 Scott Street. For more information, see the Facebook event.


Invasives Beware!

On May 15, 2021, from 9-11 a.m., Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center will hold an event in which park staff and volunteers to assist with habitat management and enhancement projects throughout Jones Park by removing invasive species, managing the forest understory, and planting trees. Wear long pants and closed-toe shoes. Children younger than 16 must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, see the Facebook event.


Trees For Houston Tree Giveaway

On May 15, 2021, from 10 a.m.-noon, Trees for Houston will host a tree giveaway at its new headquarters, 2001 W. 34th Street. The drive through tree pick-up will be COVID-friendly and quick – patrons are asked to remain in their cars and wear a mask if windows are down. trees can fit in all size vehicles, For more information, see the Facebook event.


Virtual Bay Day Festival

On May 15, 2021, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., the Galveston Bay Foundation will host its annual Bay Day Festival virtually. The festival is a celebration that includes engaging virtual exhibits from a variety of environmental organizations and partners. In addition to virtual exhibits, the Galveston Bay Foundation will go LIVE at scheduled times to showcase the wonders of Galveston Bay. For the full schedule of events and information on how to connect, visit galvbay.org.


Virtual Bird Bash

From May 15-16, 2001, the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory will host its annual Bird Bash virtually. The event connects people all over the world to the Observatory and the amazing birds that it protects. Virtual visitors can attend workshops, watch as we band birds, learn more about our conservation efforts, enter our raffle, and more. For more information, see the Facebook event.


CEE-Change Fellowship

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NAAEE, the US EPA, and the Cedar Tree Foundation believe in supporting innovative initiatives for using civic engagement and environmental education to address environmental issues and strengthen community resilience. Become a Civics and Environmental Education (CEE)-Change Fellow to strengthen your community through a community-based environmental education action project, gain access to opportunities for leadership training, technical assistance, and professional development, and join a growing network of community leaders. Applications for North American applicants are open until May 17, 2021, and professionals of all ages are encouraged to apply. Visit the North American Association for Environmental Education’s website to apply at naaee.org/ceechangefellows.


Brown Bag Lunch Series: Bicycle Friendly Driving

On May 17, 2021, from noon-1 p.m., the Houston-Galveston Area Council will present a virtual Brown Bag Lunch talk by Susan Jaworski, senior transportation planner, who will present a Bike Friendly Driving Class with tips, tricks, and strategies for driving safely on roads with bicyclists. She will use real-world examples to illustrate the importance of safe, bicycle friendly driving. For more information and to register, visit h-gac.com.


Chocolate Bay Stakeholder Meeting

On May 18, 2021, from 2-4 p.m., the Houston-Galveston Ara Council invites residents, local governments, businesses, and non-profits within the watersheds that make up Chocolate Bay — Chocolate Bayou, Mustang Bayou, and Halls Bayou in Galveston and Brazoria counties — to attend a stakeholder meeting. Attendees will hear from H-GAC staff concerning the state of water quality in each bayou and actions being taken to improve them. H-GAC is forming a committee to develop an action plan to reduce fecal bacteria and will be asking for your assistance. To register, visit zoom.us.


City of Houston Solar Co-op webinar

On May 19, 2021, beginning at noon, Solar United Neighbors will host a webinar about solar energy and how its nonprofit co-op model simplifies the process of going solar on your home or small business. This event is in conjunction with the recently announced city-wide co-op. For more information and to register, visit zoom.us.


Bay Area Sierra Club: Sunnyside Energy’s Solar Brownfield Project

On May 19, 2021, from 7-8:30 p.m., the Bay Area Sierra Club will hold a virtual monthly meeting featuring a presentation from Dori Wolfe, owner of Wolfe Energy and co-developer of the City of Houston’s Sunnyside Energy solar project. She will discuss how the project came to be and what is proposed for the former landfill in Sunnyside. For more information, see the Meetup event.


SFA Conservation Careers Camp

Stephen F. Austin State University’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture will host a Conservation Careers Camp June 20-24, 2021. The camp is open to students age 14 to 17 who are interested in exploring career opportunities in natural resource management through engaging, hands-on experiences led by SFA professors and industry professionals. More information and a link to registration can be found at sfasu.edu. Camp activities will focus on air and water quality monitoring, unmanned aerial vehicle operation, timber cruising, wildlife identification and management techniques, and more. Field trips also will introduce campers to surrounding national forests, as well as properties managed by SFA. Students who apply by May 20 will receive a $100 scholarship to attend.


Solid Waste Management Workshop

On May 20, 2021, from 9-11:30 a.m., the Houston-Galveston Area Council will host a Solid Waste Management Workshop with a focus on “Managing the Difficult Aspects of Your Recycling Program.” Topics will include: starting a new program; keeping a facility open; and reducing contamination. For more information and to register, visit h-gac.com.


Introduction to the Toxics Release Inventory

On May 20, 2021, from 1-2:30 CDT, the U.S. EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics will offer a free webinar called “Introduction to the Toxics Release Inventory.” The webinar will address: the right-to-know principle and the basics of the TRI Program; what data and information facilities report; ow to easily access data for a specific location right from the TRI homepage, and more. For more information and to register, visit abtassociates.webex.com.


Mercer Botanic Gardens Volunteer Orientation

On May 20, 2021, from 6-7 p.m., Mercer Botanic Gardens will host an orientation meeting for prospective volunteers interested in helping maintain the gardens, plant propagation and sales, or participating in educational programs and the Mercer Ambassadors. This orientation will be off site at the Timber Lane Community Center, 1904 Naplechase Crest Drive, Spring. For more information and to register, see the Facebook event.


16th Annual Endangered Species Day

On May 21, 2021, thousands of people around the world will participate in Endangered Species Day by celebrating, learning about, and taking action to protect threatened and endangered species. Wildlife refuges, zoos, aquariums, gardens, schools, libraries, museums, community groups, nonprofits, and individuals hold special programs or events for people of all ages. Due to the global coronavirus crisis, the programs organized for Endangered Species Day 2021 will primarily be online events, digital actions, and remote activities. Learn more and find local programs at endangered.org.


Morgan’s Point Clean-up

On May 22, 2021, SPLASh (Stopping Plastic and Litter Along Shorelines) is hosting a volunteer clean-up along Morgan’s Point. The cleanup will be outdoors with plenty of space for participants to spread out and socially distance, and participants will be required to wear masks. Prior to the cleanup, they will send an email with additional details about the event including where to meet, what to bring, and waivers for adults and minors. To register, use this form.


Hartman Park Ribbon Cutting

On May 22, 2021, at 10 a.m., Mayor Sylvester Turner, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and Greater Houston Partnership will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first official 50/50 Park Partners project. Join the Manchester community and Valero Energy Foundation to unveil a new playground in Hartman Park, located at 9311 E Avenue P. The 50/50 Park Partners initiative brings together 50 private businesses through monetary contributions, in-kind support, ideas, and volunteers, for improvements to 50 neighborhood parks. The heart of 50/50 Park Partners is the creation of long-term relationships for sustained impact between businesses, communities, and parks, improving the quality of life for Houstonians for decades to come.


Bird Watching at the Coastal Heritage Preserve

Through May 23, 2021, Artist Boat welcomes the public to the Coastal Heritage Preserve for the spring bird migration. These trails are accessible by paid access only. Register at fareharbor.com for the opportunity to explore the Preserve and the 403 species that call it home including birds, otters, coyotes, swamp rabbits, fish, shrimp, and turtles.


Alley Theatre presents An Enemy of the People

Through May 23, 2021, Alley Theatre is presenting a free, virtual production of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, a classic drama about the tension between economic and environmental concerns. In the play, Dr. Stockman wants to keep his community safe by shutting down the town’s economy while making the necessary changes in the poisoned water supply to make sure it is safe. His brother, the mayor, fights with all his might to keep the economy open despite the health risks. According to him, the time and money to make the water supply safe would ruin the economy and bankrupt the town. For more information and to register for a free viewing link, visit alleytheatre.org.


San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group voting member opening

The Texas Water Development Board’s San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group has an opening for the Environmental Interest voting-membership position. Applications will be accepted by mail and email until May 28, 2021. Send applications by mail to Texas Water Development Board, 10555 Northwest Fwy, Suite 120, Houston, Texas, 77092, ATTN: SJRFPG –Fatima Berrios. Email applications to SanJacFldPG@eng.hctx.net.


Calls for submissions for CAST 2021

The Science Teachers Association of Texas will host the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching, or CAST 2021, in November. STAT invites educators to turn their innovative teaching strategies and lesson plans into proposals for sessions that could benefit students across Texas and beyond. STAT is seeking proposals for sessions designed for all grade levels and science subject areas. A team of STAT members will review and score all proposals and make recommendations for which sessions to feature at CAST 2021. The Call for Presentations is open until May 30. Learn more at statweb.org.


Marine Debris Art Contest registration open through May 30

Artist Boat invites artists and ocean-lovers of all ages to submit pieces to display at the upcoming World Oceans Day festival. Art pieces are comprised primarily of marine debris and demonstrate the effects aquatic trash can have on our oceans and the life that depends on them. During the festival, Artist Boat judges will view all submissions, and you can get in on the action too. Registration is open until May 30, 2021. Art pieces must be brought to Artist Boat (13330 Settegast Road, Galveston) by June 9. The judging and viewing of the art pieces will be held on June 12 at Galveston’s Stewart Beach during the festival. For more information and to register, visit artistboat.org.


Houston Heights Compostable Dropoff

Thanks to high school student and Girl Scout Monica Orozco and Zero Waste Houston, on Wednesdays through June 2, neighbors will be able to drop their food waste and compostables off at the Historic Heights Fire Station (107 W 12th St.) for FREE!This 8-week pilot program, which will serve as Monica’s Girl Scouts Gold Award Project, will run on Wednesdays from 5-8 PM through June 2. Learn more on Facebook.


Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary seeks Advisory Council members

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is seeking applicants for four seats on its advisory council, a community-based group of individuals that provide advice for sanctuary management. The sanctuary is accepting applications for the following council seats:  Commercial Fishing (1 seat), Dive Operations (2 seats), and Recreational Diving (1 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. Applications are due by June 7, 2021. Learn more and find application materials at flowergarden.noaa.gov.


Reminders About Ongoing Opportunities

  • Wildlife by Design classroom presentations. Offered in Spring 2021 by Texas Wildlife Association. Learn more at texas-wildlife.orarg.
  • Virtual Field Lessons. Offered free by Texas Wildlife Foundation and the East Foundation to 5th-8th-grade teachers. Learn more at eastfoundation.net.
  • Texas Nature Challenge, a collaboration between the Texas A&M Forest Service, Texas Children in Nature and Texan by Nature, is an opportunity to reach out to families, classrooms, and other types of groups across Texas to engage them with your programs. For more information, visit texaschildreninnature.org.
  • NOAA Planet Stewards offers grants of up to $5,000 to support educators working in formal and informal educational settings to carry out hands-on action-based stewardship projects with elementary through college age students, as well as the general public. The deadline to apply is June 5, 2021. For more information and application instructions, visit oceanservice.noaa.gov.
  • TWRC Wildlife Center’s 2021 “Wild InSight” Photo Contest. All wildlife photo snappers, both amateur and professional, are welcome to submit their best wildlife photos. The deadline for entry is June 21, 2021. For more information on prizes and how to submit photos, visit twrcwildlifecenter.org.

Recurring Events with Changing Content

Virtually WILD! field trips

Virtually WILD! offers the community a chance to interact with conservationists and wildlife. Visit our virtual field trip videos on the CEC YouTube channel; new videos posted weekly. Corresponding educational activities are found at hereinhouston.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.

  • From short pedals at local parks, to epic journeys through rugged landscapes, mountain biking is a great way to experience the wild side of Texas. And Texas State Parks offer the full range of off-road opportunities to riders of all ages
  • Mountain bike through breezy cottonwoods and down along scenic wetlands. Brazos Bend State Park has 35 miles of bike trails sure to keep you on your toes. And keep an eye out for those alligators*
  • When it comes to mountain biking in Texas one of the best spots is Government Canyon State Natural area. Grab your bike and helmet as we hit the park for some single-track fun

Additional Upcoming Events


Check out the latest Green Jobs at cechouston.org/green-jobs/.