Houston Environmental News Update June 9, 2021

Peer into the future, World Ocean Day Festival, Picnic on the Prairie, Hotter Than Hell Big Day, Drive-Thru Rain Barrel Workshop, Green Jobs and more

Screech Owl_0125 Photo courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department © 2008

At the beginning of each year, we ask you to peer into the future and predict, wish, and pledge about our environment. We have shared some of your responses, below.

We are halfway through the year, and we invite you to look to both the past and the future. Please let us know what you think have been the most significant environmental issues and events in the Houston region, what you predict and hope for the future, and how you plan to make a difference. Food for thought: new president, the Texas Legislature, freezing weather, environmental equity and racism, milestones, small wins, excellent journalism, voting rights…

In January, you predicted what issues or events might be of importance to the greater Houston region’s environmental community in 2021:

  • Reframing Houston as an energy hub powered by fossil fuels to an energy hub sourced from renewables
  • Solving the inequities of urban heat around the greater Houston area
  • Implementing and regionalizing the Houston Climate Action Plan (especially tree planting and other long-term strategies)
  • Police Reform
  • Applying pressure to NRG to take the coal burners out of service at WA Parish.
  • Plans of the legislature to strip local control & to further reduce voting rights
  • Flood and climate resilience through conversion of traditional landscaping to native plants, riparian corridors along bayous & streams
  • Establishing urban prairies on utility rights of way
  • Many more electric vehicle charging stations

You told us what headlines would you like to see about the Houston environment in 2021:

  • Greater Houston Partnership urges switch to renewables
  • Energy and transportation carbon emissions on downward trend, plans to continue trend in 2021
  • Diesel and gasoline sales decrease 20%, air quality improves.
  • Houston sees the opportunity in the climate crisis.
  • The City of Houston moves to implement climate action plan
  • Houston ISD commits to 100% renewable energy
  • 50% of Climate Action Plan has been implemented
  • TxDOT highway expansion plans are discarded for public mass transit redesign
  • Fossil fuel industry starts switching renewable energy in a big way

You shared with us how you planned to make a difference this year:

  • Go Solar
  • Join an organization, on my university campus or in Houston, and contribute, speak, and show up to lower Houston’s environmental harm and help those who suffer the most from the existing harm.
  • Thinking where I can make lower impact choices.
  • As a member of the Houston Climate Movement
  • I am engrossed in Kiva.org, lending small amounts to micro-entrepreneurs in developing countries. I point out the loans that are good for our climate. Water filters, improved wood stoves, tiny solar etc.
  • I volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, advocating for state and national climate policy.
  • Implement several of Houston’s Climate Action Plan recommendations
  • Influence as many as I can to help the environment.
  • Continue to lobby City & H-GAC
  • Lobby for climate change legislation
  • Educate people about native plants

CEC NOTES

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.


Environmental Educators Exchange Social

All are welcome to join the Environmental Educators Exchange for an afternoon of nature journaling and networking on June 25 at 3:30 p.m. at the Pinspiration store, 3004 Yale Street. RSVP to Alicia at amein@hcp4.net, as space is limited. The $30 cost includes all materials, and one hour of CPE credit is available. Invite a friend to learn more about the use of nature journals with children. This is also a great chance to meet informal educators around Houston, plan the fall conference for the Texas Association for Environmental Education, and strategize on a variety of ongoing projects. We work better together – so join us!


Engage with Environmental Interns

CEC invites members of the environmental community to speak with our summer interns about career paths, advice, policy, DEI, leadership, and environmental topics. If you are willing to share your story with our interns, please reach out to rachel@cechouston.org. If you have environmental interns this summer, we invite your interns to participate in these opportunities as well as socially-distanced, outdoor field trips; email rachel@cechouston.org for more info. CEC has a limited number of openings for summer interns. Learn more at cechouston.org.


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


OPPORTUNITIES FOR PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT


San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site Virtual Community Meeting

On June 10, 2021, from 6-7 p.m., the Environmental Protection Agency will hold  a virtual community meeting to provide an update for the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site. Topics for discussion include: changes to remedial design schedule, upcoming design investigation sampling and overall remedial design update. Members of the public and attend the meeting online or via telephone. For more information, visit epa.gov.


Gulf Coast Resiliency Management Plan information webinar

A project team led by the Environmental Defense Fund and including experts from Texas A&M University and Galveston Bay Foundation is conducting a National Academy of Sciences-funded project aimed to increase understanding of toxic releases due to flooding and sea-level rise in the Galveston Bay area. The project will explore the use of green or natural infrastructure solutions, such as dunes or increased vegetation, as resilience strategies to protect or mitigate petrochemical facilities at risk of flood-related damage. The team is conducting a series of meetings to inform stakeholders and interested parties of this effort and its potential impacts. A primary goal of these meetings will be to obtain feedback from stakeholders on community concerns that will be used to guide the development of recommendations or guidance for future planning. A workgroup meeting will be held virtually on June 14, 2021, from 2-5 p.m. Register to attend the meeting at zoom.us.


National Environmental Justice Advisory Council Meeting

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.


Deepwater Horizon NRDA Annual Public Meeting

The Deepwater Horizon NRDA Trustee Council will hold its sixth annual public meeting and open house on June 17, 2021, with the open house from 5:30-6 p.m. CT and the public meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. During this meeting, the Trustees will present updates on the progress made by the Trustee Council and in each of the seven Restoration Areas. They will also provide an opportunity for public comments after the updates are presented. Learn more and register at gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov.


TCEQ Public Hearing on Union Pacific’s Houston Wood Preserving Works

Union Pacific Railroad Company, owner of the Houston Wood Preserving Works located at 4910 Liberty Road, Houston has applied to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for a renewal and major amendment of Hazardous Waste Permit/Compliance Plan No. 50343.  TCEQ will hold a public meeting on June 21, 2021, at 6 p.m. for this Permit/Compliance Plan. Members of the public who would like to ask questions or provide comments during the meeting may access the meeting via webcast by visiting gotomeeting.com and entering Webinar ID 671-777-035. Members of the public who wish to only listen to the meeting may call, toll free, (415) 930-5321 and enter access code 358-549-912.


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).


2019 TRI National Analysis: Highlights and Walkthrough

On June 10, 2021, from 1-2:30 p.m. CT, the Environmental Protection Agency will host a webinar highlighting findings from the most recent Toxic Release Inventory data about industrial management of toxic chemicals. This webinar will briefly cover the basics of the TRI Program, explain key findings from EPA’s analysis of the 2019 TRI data, and explore features of the interactive National Analysis report. Participants will also learn how to easily get summary data for any U.S. location. For more information and to register, visit abtassociates.webex.com.


Ocean Awards Gala 2021

On June 10, 2021, beginning at 6 p.m., CT, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation will host its annual Ocean Awards Gala virtually. For more information on how to watch the event, visit secure.givelively.org.


Sierra Club meeting: CoHousing Houston – Towards Community and Being Green

On June 10, 2021, from 7:30-9 p.m., the Sierra Club Houston Group will hold its monthly meeting virtually, featuring a presentation from Steve Stelzer, the program director at the City of Houston Green Building Resource Center and a member of CoHousing Houston. He will discuss the strategies for developing the first cohusing development in Texas, and what the green values of the community are. For more information, visit Meetup.com.


2021 AIA Sandcastle Competition team registration now open

The 34th Annual AIA Sandcastle Competition will take place Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, live and in person on East Beach in Galveston. The competition is a fundraising event for AIA Houston and ArCH Foundation. Competing teams have their eyes and shovels set on winning the prestigious Gold Bucket Award. Firms begin months in advance generating ideas, developing designs, and assigning duties. On the day of the event, the teams – stretched along the beach front – meticulously sculpt their piles of sand and work non-stop for five hours. Team registration is due by Friday, June 11 at 5 p.m. in order to participate in the Virtual Site Selection Lottery. Registration will remain open until Monday, July 26. Learn how to register your team at aiahouston.org.


Turkey Bend Community Meeting

On June 12, 2021, from 10 a.m.-noon, Buffalo Bayou Partnership will hold an open house and community meeting for the public to learn about the Buffalo Bayou East Master Plan with a focus on the Turkey Bend site. There will be opportunities for discussion, feedback, and questions. Spanish translation will be provided. For more information, visit buffalobayou.org.


World Ocean Day Festival

On June 12, 2021, from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Artist Boat will hold the World Ocean Day Festival at Galveston’s Stewart Beach, 201 Seawall Blvd. at Broadway. Every year, World Ocean Day provides a unique opportunity to honor, help protect, and conserve our world’s shared ocean. The event will include the awards for the Beatify the Bucket competition and Marine Debris Art Contest. The Festival is FREE. However, Stewart Beach parking fees will apply. ($15/Car All Day). For more information, visit artistboat.org.


Picnic for the Prairie

On June 12, 2021, Katy Prairie Conservancy will hold its annual fundraiser Picnic for the Prairie virtually. This event brings together individuals of all ages to support KPC’s mission to preserve coastal prairie in the Gulf Coast Region for current and future generations. Picnic on a nearby prairie, at a park, or in your own backyard! Registration includes an exclusive event T-shirt and virtual programming leading up to the event. For more information and to register, visit katyprairie.org.


Hotter Than Hell Big Day

From June 13-14, 2021, the Galveston Nature Tourism Council will host the first Hotter Than Hell Big Day. This new event is a fun, fast-paced semi-competitive race to see which team can identify the most bird species in Galveston County in 24 hours. As the day heats up, so will the competition. Participants will help build citizen science data on eBird during one of the least birded times of the year. Event proceeds will support Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council. For more information and to register, visit galvestonnaturetourism.org.


Virtual Public Meeting

On June 14, 2021, beginning at 6 p.m., Lone Star Legal Aid and IMPACT will co-host a virtual public meeting in advance of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s June 21 public meeting on Union Pacific’s application for a renewal and major amendment of Hazardous Waste Permit/Compliance Plan at its Houston Wood Preserving Works facility (see notice above in “Opportunities for Public Participation”). Participants will learn what deficiencies with the permit the organizations have identified, how you can submit public comments expressing your concerns with the permit, and what solutions there might be for some of these deficiencies. For more information on how to attend the meeting, see the Facebook event.


Drive-Thru Rain Barrel Workshop

On June 16, 2021, from 10:30-11:30 a.m., the Galveston Bay Foundation will present a virtual rain barrel workshop consisting of a virtual presentation via Zoom on the environmental benefits of collecting rainwater, as well as proper rain barrel preparation and installation instructions and tips. Rain barrels will be available for pickup on June 15 from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at OLLI Galveston (1200 Market St.). The $35 cost includes one barrel and one connector kit, admission to the workshop for up to two people. For more information and to register, visit galvbay.org.


Tree-rific Volunteers

On June 16, 2021, from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Mercer Botanic Gardens invites volunteers to help care for nursery trees at the Mercer Botanic Gardens Horticultural Propagation Center, 3602 Hirschfield Rd., Spring. Bring gloves and a refillable water bottle. Registration is required. For more information, see the Facebook event.


Bay Area Sierra Club Meeting: An Update on Electric Autos

On June 16, 2021, beginning at 7 p.m., the Bay Area chapter of the Sierra Club will hold its monthly meeting virtually, featuring a presentation by Robert Sanchez, vice president of the Houston Electric Auto Association (HEAA). He will provide an update on the current situation with electric autos and charging infrastructure. For more information and to register, visit Meetup.com.


The A,B,C’s of Retrofitting – Managing Flooding and Water Quality Issues in Your Community

On June 17, 2021, from 11 a.m.-noon, the Texas General Land Office will hold a virtual Lunch and Learn program featuring a presentation from Tom Hegemier, a senior project manager at Doucet and Associates in Austin. He will discuss the selection, design, and construction of retrofit projects in existing urbanized areas to manage stormwater runoff and water quality. For more information and to register, eventbrite.com.


Cotton Bayou Watershed Project Meeting

On June 17, 2021, from 2-4 p.m., the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Houston-Galveston Area Council will hold a public meeting to discuss water quality in the Cotton Bayou Watershed. Project staff will review updates since the submission of the Watershed Characterization Report and provide an outlook on the development of a Technical Support Document and Total Maximum Daily Load calculation for Cotton Bayou. To register, visit zoom.us.


Native Plant Society meeting: Common Insects of Texas

On June 17, 2021, beginning at 7 p.m., the Houston chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas will host its monthly meeting virtually, featuring a presentation by Dr. John Abbott and Kendra Abbott. They will discuss their latest book, Common Insects of Texas and Surrounding States, a field guide published in October, 2020. For more information on how to attend the meeting, visit npsot.org.


Daylight Hour

On June 18, 2021, you are invited to participate in Daylight Hour, an annual social media campaign organized by the Building Energy Exchange to raise awareness about using natural daylight in lieu of electric lighting. Launched in 2014, this simple and engaging campaign asks offices to turn off non-critical lights in day-lit spaces from noon until 1 p..m on the Friday nearest the summer solstice. Daylight Hour looks a little bit different this year than it has in the past – participation is free and encouraged, no matter where you are. For more information on how to get involved, visit daylighthour.org.


RDA 2021 Architecture Tour

For its 2021 Architecture Tour, RDA is looking UPWARDS and highlighting examples of urban density in Houston’s housing stock. This year’s residences are featured in a special virtual program that explores our city’s gradual transition towards urban densification and some of the different examples of housing types that exist in Houston. Important questions include: How can we live together in Houston? What lifestyles are possible in denser building layouts? Who lives in them? Why is density important as we face population growth and increasing climate challenges?Access to all videos of the virtual tour are accessible to watch through Saturday, June 19. Additionally, RDA will host a special live conversation with some of the homeowners, developers, and architects participating in the tour on Friday, June 11, for all tour attendees to join.  For more information and to purchase tickets, visit ricedesignalliance.org.


Virtual Plant Sale

On June 19, 2021, from 8 a.m.-8 p.m, Mercer Botanic Garden will hold its Father’s Day Plant Sale virtually. featuring heat tolerant plants, flowering tropicals, summer vegetables, trees, and shrubs. All orders are pickup only as plants cannot be shipped. Plant pickup is offsite at The Mercer Society’s Horticultural Propagation Center, approximately one mile from Mercer at 3602 Hirschfield Road in Spring. TMS members have access to the online store on Friday, June 18, starting at 4 p.m. For more information, see the Facebook event.


Invasives Beware

On June 19, 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.


Picnic in the Park

On June 19, 2021, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center will hold its Picnic in the Park. Hot dogs and ice cream will be available for purchase, along with plants and JJPV merchandise. In honor of Juneteenth, the stage will feature live entertainment, including Drum and Strum with Joseph and Jwad and a visit from renowned storyteller Jean Donatto with Young Audiences of Houston. For more information, see the Facebook event.


TWRC’s 2021 “Wild InSight” Photo Contest

TWRC Wildlife Center is holding its 2021 “Wild InSight” Photo Contest. All wildlife photo snappers, hobbyists, “phone-tographers”, amateurs and professionals welcome. Enter your best photos, giving visual insight about wildlife living in the wild and then invite friends and family to vote for their favorites. Top 16 photos (receiving the most votes online) will be featured on a full 8 1/2 x 11 glossy, color page in the 2021/2022 “Wild InSight” calendar. The deadline for entry is June 21, 2021. For more information on prizes and how to submit photos, visit twrcwildlifecenter.org.


Get Into Your Sanctuary” photo contest

In celebration of national Get Into Your Sanctuary activities, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is hosting its annual photo contest. Through Labor Day, ONMS is accepting the public’s best photos of the National Marine Sanctuary System to help celebrate the beauty and importance of these special places, including Texas’s own Flower Garden Banks NMS. The categories are: Sanctuary Views, Sanctuary Life, Sanctuary Recreation, and Sanctuaries at Home. Winning photos will be featured in next year’s Earth Is Blue Magazine and on the Earth Is Blue social media campaign. For more information, including how to submit photos, visit sanctuaries.noaa.gov.


Beto O’Rourke Wants to Protect Our Natural Heritage

In the latest “Houston and Nature” podcast, Nivien Saleh talks with former Senate and Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who shares his perspectives on protecting Texas’s natural heritage.


SFA joins ISSP partnership for undergraduate and graduate online degrees

Stephen F. Austin State University recently enrolled in the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) partnership program. Students who enroll in a sustainability program automatically become members of ISSP and, through their SFA courses, interact with material that prepares them to test for Sustainability Excellence Associate status. SFA is currently the only school in Texas in this partnership. Online degree programs include an undergraduate major, minor, undergraduate and graduate four-course certificates, and a sustainability management concentration within the Master of Interdisciplinary Studies. SUST 3330 (undergraduate) and 5300 (graduate), both titled Fundamentals of Sustainability, are available online in Fall 2021. For more information, visit sfasu.edu or email Bill Forbes, associate professor, at forbesw@sfasu.edu.


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.

  • There are new paddling trails popping up all over Texas. Grab your canoe and come along as we check out some of the state’s best river trips, on the coast, in Houston, and on the Guadalupe River. All you need is a paddle and an excuse to get wet
  • When you think of a river adventure in San Antonio, the famous Riverwalk comes to mind. But there is a paddling trail of a different sort that’s worth checking out
  • Straddling the Texas-Louisiana border, swampy Caddo Lake in Northeast Texas has an enduring air of mystery. And the paddling trails is the ideal way to explore this fascinating lake

Additional Upcoming Events


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