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Houston Environmental News Update December 22, 2021

Houston Environmental News Update December 22, 2021

Peace, 2021 Top Ten, Advocacy groups file civil rights complaint, Experts sought on managed coastal retreat, Christmas Bird Counts, Agents of Discovery, Green Jobs and more

A Texas poinsettia cousin: Snow-on-the-prairie Euphobia bicolor Photo 155026823, (c) johnbajor, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC)
A Texas poinsettia cousin: Painted Leaf Euphorbia cyasthophora Photo 53160218, (c) Melissa Drake, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC)

The environmental community slows down just a little bit at this time of year, but Christmas Bird Counts, First Day Hikes, and a variety of opportunities are ongoing or coming up. Read on for more info.

Please consider making a yearend gift to the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition. Your gift helps us carry out our mission of fostering education, dialogue, and collaboration on environmental issues in the Houston/Gulf Coast region. CEC can’t do it without support from readers like you.

Wishing you peace and health, from all of us at the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition.

Year in Review: Let us know what you think!

We like asking our readers to tell us what they might put on a list of the most significant environmental accomplishments, controversies, issues, news, and events in the greater Houston region impacting the environment for the year. A lot has changed in the past six months!

Now that are approaching the end of 2021, what do you, our readers, believe have been the most significant environmental accomplishments, controversies, issues, news, and events in the greater Houston region so far this year? Please suggest additions to our list using this survey.

Snow-covered Texas, Feb. 15, 2021. (NOAA)

Earlier this year, you answered with the following:

  • The Freeze / Winter Storm Uri
  • Nesting whooping cranes
  • DEIJ
  • Equity in the implementation of the flood bond
  • Results from heat mapping
  • Headwaters to Baywaters

Our predictions and hopes for 2021 included the following:

  • Implementation of the Houston Climate Action Plan, especially the planting of trees to absorb CO2 but which need a long time to grow.
  • Climate Action Plan
  • Police Reform
  • Climate change, climate resilience, climate crisis, climate resilience, climate action plans, City of Houston Climate Action Plan
  • Climate solutions: tree planting, prairies, native plants, transition to renewables, things we are already doing
  • Riparian Corridors along Bayous & Streams
  • Establishing Urban Prairies on Utility Right of Ways
  • Many More Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
  • Applying pressure to NRG to take the coal burners out of service at WA Parish
  • Abbott’s & Leg plans to strip local control & to further reduce voting rights
  • 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.


Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers

Engage your students with lessons outdoors or virtually. Sign up today at hereinhouston.org.

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


San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group seeks Small Business member

The San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group is seeking a new Small Business voting member representative. If you know anyone who may be interested in this position, please feel free to forward the notice. They will be accepting applications by mail to ATTN: SJRFPG –Fatima Berrios, 10555 Northwest Fwy, Suite 120, Houston, TX 77092; and email to SanJacFldPG@eng.hctx.net until January 3, 2022.

Lone Star Hiking Trail Master Plan Public Meetings

A series of public meetings (some in-person and some virtual) for a revised Lone Star Hiking Trail Master Plan are scheduled in January. The 128-mile Lone Star Hiking Trail is the longest continuous hiking trail in Texas. The LSHT is a unique wilderness footpath that is available to all who want to walk, hike, or run and enjoy solitude, spiritual contemplation, and other low impact and nature compatible uses in the back country of Sam Houston National Forest. For more information and to sign up for the meetings, visit signupgenius.com.

Community Flood Resilience Task Force seeks member

The Harris County Community Flood Resilience Task Force is accepting applications to fill a vacant seat. The Task Force is especially interested in candidates from the Greenspoint and Aldine areas, but all Harris County residents are invited to apply. These members will join the first inaugural membership in working to further equitable flood resilience efforts across Harris County. If you are interested in serving on this Task Force, please submit an application to cfrtf.harriscountytx.gov by 11;59 p.m. on Jan. 31, 2022.

Revised Definition of “Waters of the United States”

On Dec. 7, 2021, EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published in the Federal Register a proposed new “Waters of the United States” definition. Find the proposed Revised Definition at federalregister.gov. The public comment period for the proposed rule continues through February 7, 2022. Learn more and submit comments at federalregister.gov.


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).

Advocacy groups file civil rights complaint against TxDOT, Federal Highway Administration

Last week, several Houston-area and Texas advocacy groups — Air Alliance Houston, LINK Houston, Stop TxDOT I-45, Texas Housers, and Texas Appleseed — filed an administrative complaint against the Texas Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration alleging civil rights violations against minority populations affected by the proposed highway expansion in the North Houston Highway Improvement Project. The complaint alleges a historic and continuing pattern of destroying the health, safety, homes, and businesses of Black and Brown populations in Houston by building and expanding highways through their generational neighborhoods that constitutes discrimination based on race, color, and national origin, in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI bars agencies who receive federal funds from using them to discriminate. To learn more, see the press release.

Experts sought: Managed Retreat in the U.S. Gulf Coast Region

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will convene an ad hoc committee to conduct a study on the movement and relocation of people, infrastructure, and communities away from environmentally high-risk areas, sometimes referred to as managed retreat, in the Gulf Coast region of the United States. In particular, the study will focus on understanding and responding to the unique challenges in the face of a changing climate along the Gulf Coast (e.g., coastal flooding due to sea level rise, subsidence, land loss). The study will make findings and recommendations based on information gathered about the challenges, needs, and opportunities associated with managed retreat in the Gulf Coast region. The study will be carried out by a committee of approximately 5-8 volunteer experts in the fields of: Social and behavioral sciences with expertise on migration, managed retreat, coastal management, relocation planning, disasters (flooding), and environmental change impacts and societal responses. Nominations for committee members and/or reviewers for this study can be submitted by Jan. 3, 2022. More information about this project at nationalacademies.org.

Christmas Bird Counts

The 122nd annual Christmas Bird Count continues through January 5, 2022. Organized by the National Audubon Society, this all-volunteer effort takes a snapshot of bird populations to monitor their status and distribution across the Western Hemisphere. The results are compiled into a database that is shared with federal, state, and private authorities. Counts are open to birders of all skill levels. Discover new areas to bird which may not be normally accessible and take advantage of this great opportunity to bird with some of our foremost birding experts. There is no fee to participate in Christmas Bird Counts. Learn more about the counts–including a few dozen within a two-hour drive of downtown Houston–at HoustonAudubon.org

International Fund for Animal Welfare International Youth Art Contest

In celebration of World Wildlife Day 2022 on March 3, the International Fund for Animal Welfare is hosting its fourth annual international youth art contest in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the United Nations Development Programme. The CITES-designated theme for 2022 is “Recovering Key Species for Ecosystem Restoration,” which aims to draw attention to endangered and critically endangered wildlife and to highlight the power of conservation efforts seeking to reverse their fate. The contest engages school-aged children and encourages a sense of connection with the natural world, tapping into the creativity of young artists in a way that embraces the critical importance of conservation. Interested youth artists ages of 4- 18 can submit their artwork electronically through IFAW’s art contest webpage through 11:59 p.m. GMT on Jan. 16, 2022

Agents of Discovery: Sims Bayou at S. Post Oak Road

Through Feb. 4, 2022, the Houston Parks Board is hosting an Agents of Discovery mission where players will investigate a new prairie and bioswale area along Sims Bayou. Players will discover the purpose behind a bioswale and why native plants are important to our bats and birds! They will also get a chance to see the newest mural on Sims Bayou, a project of UP Art Studio made possible by Council Member Martha Castex-Tatum of District K, 5 Corners District, and TIRZ 9. For more information, visit houstonparksboard.org.

Lazy Gardener & Friends Houston Garden Newsletter

The  “Lazy Gardner & Friends Houston Garden Newsletter”, produced by Brenda Beust Smith, John Ferguson, and Mark Bowen (along with a supporting cast of contributing writers and technical specialists), offers gardening tips, spotlights on local experts, and a calendar of events and announcements. To sign up for this free newsletter, visit constantcontact.com. Find back issues at natureswayresource.com.

H-GAC offers assistance with conservation projects

As part of its Regional Conservation Initiative, the Houston-Galveston Area Council will actively assist with preparing grant applications, convening stakeholders, and otherwise supporting implementation of select conservation projects across the 13-county H-GAC region. To guide its efforts, H-GAC is collecting information about planned conservation projects from local government and non-governmental organizations and categorizing the projects in a priority list. There is no funding associated with this project priority list but selected projects will be eligible to receive H-GAC staff assistance. See the current priority project list and learn more about H-GAC’s work at h-gac.com.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Meets A Changing State Population

In the latest Houston & Nature podcast, Nivien Salah speaks with Ted Hollingsworth, director of the Land Conservation Program of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. He explains how his agency addresses the increasing diversity of Texans, and how the demographic trends affect both its ranks and its bottom line. He also discusses the secret behind the Department’s overall popularity.. Listen to the episode at houstonnature.com.

Reminders About Ongoing Opportunities

  • EPA Healthy Environmental Living Program. This program identifies and funds projects that: assess, understand, and reduce environmental and human health risk; increase collaboration through community capacity to understand and solve environmental and human health problems; build institutional and community capacity to understand and solve environmental and human health problems; achieve measurable environmental and human health benefits; reduce pollution at the source; and advance emergency preparedness and resilience. Applications are due Jan 28, 2022. For more information and to apply, visit grants.gov.
  • Your Body Your Air. The Houston Public Library invites you to learn about types and sources of air pollution in Houston and the effect they have on our bodies in The Health Museum’s new exhibit Your Body Your Air. Created in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund, Your Body Your Air can be seen at various Houston Public Library locations through February 2022. Learn more at houstonlibrary.org.
  • Environmental Justice Video Challenge for Students. EPA and partners have launched this challenge to enhance communities’ capacity to address environmental and public health inequities. College and university students are encouraged to learn more about the challenge and how to participate at epa.gov. Submissions are due April 1, 2022.

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.

  • You could call him the trail troubadour. Meet a mechanic and mountain-biking musician who has been taming trails in San Angelo for decades and who considers the local state park a hidden treasure
  • See how a ranching couple in their 90s has kept their West Texas ranch going for the past 60 years, and sustained a ranching heritage dating to 1888
  • From raising chicks to building nest boxes, meet a husband and wife team that has spent half a lifetime working to save the chimney swift

Additional Upcoming Events

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