Houston Environmental News Update January 12, 2022
MLK Day of Service, Wild & Scenic Jan. 29, After the Spill, Native Plant Society of Texas Executive Director Meg Inglis, Faithful Resilience, Memorial Park Land Bridge and Prairie Project, Arbor Day Events, Green Jobs and more
When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at the March on Washington, he described a “fierce urgency of now.” More than 50 years later, his words have renewed meaning. They remind us that we are stronger when we march forward, together. The global pandemic and events of 2020 and 2021 have opened our eyes wider to the inequity in our world. The time is now to act with swift urgency to deliver on the promise of Dr. King’s example and mission. Through service we can build more equitable and just communities to underpin racial equity, expand civic opportunities, and foster respect for individual differences.
The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 17, 2022, is the national day of service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.
National initiatives related to MLK National Day of Service include:
- Points of Light (the local PoL affiliate is Volunteer Houston)
- Americorps MLK Day Observance https://americorps.gov/newsroom/events/mlk-day
- The King Center: events, awards program https://thekingcenter.org/king-holiday-2022/
Local environmental groups in the Houston region offer a vast array of opportunities to volunteer and to serve our community. Not sure where to start?
Locally, you might start by looking on VolunteerHouston.org, which lists opportunities with CEC and many of its member organizations and community partners, including (organizations in bold have events planned for Monday):
- Progressive Fifth Ward Community Association
- Buffalo Bayou Partnership
- Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy
- Student Conservation Association
- Blodgett Urban Gardens
- OHBA – Organic Horticulture & Benefit Organization
- Mercer Botanic Garden
- LINK Houston
- Keep Pearland Beautiful
- City of Houston Parks & Recreation Department
- TWRC Wildlife Center
- Bayou Preservation Association
- Memorial Park Conservancy
- The Woods Project
- SBP Recovery
- Nature Discovery Center
- West Street Recovery
- Westbury Community Garden
- Urban Harvest
- Texas Conservation Corps at American Youthworks
- Houston Botanic Garden
- Recipe for Success
- B-Cycle / Houston Bike Share
- Freewheels Houston
- Keep Houston Beautiful
- Armand Bayou Nature Center
- Sheldon Lake State Park and Environmental Learning Center
- Bayou Land Conservancy
- Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston
- Impact Hub Houston
- Houston Center for Creative Reuse
- Galveston Bay Foundation
- Hermann Park Conservancy
- Houston Chapter of the Native Prairies Association of Texas (and Lawther Deer Park Prairie)
- Emancipation Park Conservancy
- Evolve Houston
- Houston Parks Board
- Jesse Jones Park Volunteers
- Missouri City Parks & Recreation
- NEO – Nature & Eclectic Outdoors
Additional resources for finding volunteer opportunities include:
- Serveforgood.org–A resource developed by local teens for teens.
- VolunteerMatch.org–Many organizationsalso post opportunities on this national site, where you can search for both local and virtual opportunities.
- Allforgood.org, a service of the Points of Light volunteer organization.
- EarthShare of Texas provides, among other things, suggestions for corporate volunteer groups.
Among our favorite calls are inquiries about volunteer opportunities; with a community of almost 150 member organizations, CEC can suggest great volunteer opportunities for everyone. If you are new to town or new to environmental volunteering, please get in touch.
@americorps @TheKingCenter @volunteerhouston @beapointoflight @volunteerhouston
Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Tour January 29, 2022
The Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour is returning to Houston on January 29, 2022. Hosted by the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, this year’s film fest will be a hybrid event, taking place both online and in person at MATCH to accommodate everyone’s COVID safety preferences.
Thank you to our 2022 Sponsors:
Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers
- Jan. 20: Educator Workshop Happy Hour – Outdoor Teaching Tips, Tools & Techniques
- Jan. 22: Introduction to Project WET
- Feb. 2: Nature Play Every Day with OLE!
- Feb. 4: Wildlife by Design Across Texas
- Feb. 1-17: Civic Science: Inquiry to Action Virtual Learning Course
- Feb. 17: Educator Workshop Happy Hour – Birding in the Schoolyard
- Feb. 24-26: CAST 24/7
Please scroll down to read about public engagement opportunities and notes from our member organizations and the community.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
Lone Star Hiking Trail Master Plan Public Meeting
A final public meeting for a revised Lone Star Hiking Trail Master Plan will be held January 13, 2021, from 5:30-9 p.m. at the Woodlands South Regional Library. 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 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 Feb. 7, 2022. Learn more and submit comments at federalregister.gov.
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).
Katy Prairie Conservancy preserves nearly 965 acres of land for conservation projects
The Katy Prairie Conservancy announced this week the preservation of nearly 965 acres of additional land for two important land conservation projects, increasing lands conserved by the land trust to 30,127 acres. The lands will be protected from any future commercial development. The eventual goal of the combined projects on the Katy Prairie, including the new acquisition, is to add nearly 5,000 contiguous acres to the southwestern portion of the preserve. “There is an urgent need to conserve land in the Greater Houston area, as growth is consuming the coastal prairie, and the loss of these lands threatens the well-being of people and wildlife,” Mary Anne Piacentini, President and CEO of Katy Prairie Conservancy, said in press release. “Protected lands, such as the newly protected properties on the Katy Prairie Preserve and in Matagorda County, serve our community by keeping land in agriculture, linking current generations to natural heritage, and connecting people to nature. Addtionally, they provide critical habitat for wildlife, including migratory birds traveling through the Central Flyway.”
Bayou Preservation Association seeks nominations and applications for 2022 Board of Directors
The Bayou Preservation Association is seeking qualified nominations and applications for its 2022 Board of Directors. This is an opportunity to be part of a team shaping a long-standing environmental organization as it moves forward in strengthening its capacity and accomplishments. Board members will support the work of Bayou Preservation Association and provide mission-based leadership and strategic governance. The application outlines requirements, board member responsibilities, and qualifications. Applications are due on January 31, 2022 in order to be considered for board services starting in 2022. Find full information and a link to the application at bayoupreservation.org.
Participants sought for urban agriculture study
Ashley Gripper, MPH, a Ph.D candidate at Harvard University’s Department of Environmental Health, is seeking 300-500 participants for a research study looking at the impacts of urban agriculture on well-being. The goal is to develop a tool that can be used as an evaluation metric for food justice and agriculture organizations that may be more aligned with organizational values as opposed to some evaluation metric developed by funders and foundations. Survey participants must: 1) be an outdoor gardener, farmer, or grower; 2) farm or garden in Houston or one of twelve other US cities; 3) garden/farm with other people or as part of a community, collective, or cooperative; and 4) be at least 18 years of age. The survey takes between 10-20 minutes. Participants can choose to opt into the raffle for a $50 Visa card. Participants who identify as a Black farmer will be able to opt into having their email address shared with the National Black Food and Justice Alliance for their Black Food Mapping Project. You may complete the survey here. If you know of community elders who may be interested and eligible but without internet access or a computer and you are able to assist them, your assistance, with their permission, would be appreciated.
After the spill: Findings from a decade of GoMRI science
On Jan. 13, 2022, from 1-2 p.m., NOAA Central Library and the National Sea Grant Office will present a a synthesis of big picture findings of the ten-year Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurred approximately 41 miles off Louisiana’s coastline, releasing more than 172 million gallons of crude oil into the surrounding waters. Nearly 1.8 million gallons of dispersant were applied at the water’s surface and at the wellhead more than one mile down, marking the first use of subsea dispersants. With scientific questions looming due to the unprecedented nature of the spill and response, the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative funded $500 million in spill-related research and outreach activities. For more information and to register, visit gotowebinar.com.
Meet Native Plant Society of Texas Executive Director Meg Inglis
On Jan. 13, 2022, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.. the Native Plant Society of Texas will hold a webinar introducing its new executive director, Meg Inglis. She will talk a little about herself and her new role as the first Executive Director of the organization. She will discuss challenges faced by the Society and her goals for meeting those challenges and implementing the group’s strategic plan. For more information and to register, see the Facebook event.
The Memorial Park Land Bridge and Prairie Project
On Jan. 13, 2022, from 7:30-9 p.m., the Houston chapter of the Sierra Club will hold a virtual monthly meeting featuring a presentation by Desiree Alejandro of the Memorial Park Conservancy, who will discuss and provide updates on current projects in Memorial Park. The Land Bridge and Prairie Project has made significant progress and should soon mark a major milestone. It is expected that the land bridge tunnels will be completed and open for traffic in early 2022, probably sometime in February. The focus will then shift to modifying the landscape around the tunnels and establishing the planned native prairie, which will increase the parks biodiversity and facilitate storm water retention. For more information and to register, visit Meetup.com.
Faithful Resilience: A Study on Climate Resilience for Faith Communities
From January 13 through February 17, 2022, the Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston will present a six-part online study on climate resilience for faith communities. The series will explore ways in which the faith community can become a force for climate resilience for the community. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com.
Arbor Day Celebration
From Jan. 15-16, 2022, Jesse H Jones Park & Nature Center will host a celebration of Arbor Day. Participants can take home a free sapling and learn about tree care and planting tips. Saturday includes a tree planting party at 10 a.m., which requires reservations. For more information, including a link to register, see the Facebook event.
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. 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.
Faith, Climate Change & Justice: A MultiFaith Panel Discussion
On Jan. 16, 2022. from 3:30-4 p.m., the Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston will hold an online discussion of multiple faiths’ perspectives on the topic of faith, climate change and justice. A panel of speakers of a variety of faith backgrounds will each address faith, climate change & justice from the perspective of their faith. An opportunity for Q&A with the panel will follow, People of all faiths are encouraged to attend, as are representatives of local environmental non-profits that would like to work with people of faith on environmental issues. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com.
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary 30th anniversary
The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, located more than 100 miles south of the Texas/Louisiana border in the Gulf of Mexico. was officially designated on January 17, 1992. The original designation consisted of two areas located twelve miles apart – East Flower Garden Bank and West Flower Garden Bank. A third location, Stetson Bank, was added in 1996, after strong support from local divers. Boundaries for these areas were established using the best information available at the time regarding biologically sensitive habitats. In January 2021, it was expanded from 56 to 160 square miles, adding 14 additional reefs and banks to the sanctuary, with slight adjustments to the boundaries of the sanctuary’s original three banks. Learn more about this invaluable resource in our own backyard at flowergarden.noaa.gov.
THEA January Town Hall
On Jan. 18, 2022, beginning at 6 p.m., Texas Heath and Environment Alliance will host its first Town Hall of the year online. Speakers will address topics related to environmental justice communities in the greater Houston area. For more information and to register, visit txhea.org.
Open Project Night Info Session + All Hands Meeting
On Jan. 19, 2022, from 5:30-7 p.m., Impact Hub Houston will host an online opportunity for problem solvers, connectors, and leaders to put their skills to in their efforts to create the change they wish to see in the world. The focus is to help achieve the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Investments and support are needed to ensure innovative technological development, fair trade, and market access in Houston. To build a better world, Houstonians need to be supportive, empathetic, inventive, passionate, and above all, cooperative. For more information and to register, visit Eventbrite.com.
Mercer Botanic Gardens Volunteer Orientation
On Jan. 19, 2021, from 6-7 p.m., Mercer Botanic Gardens will hold an orientation for prospective volunteers. The orientation will detail the various volunteer opportunities, from helping maintain our gardens, to plant propagation and sales, to educational programs and the Mercer Ambassadors. This orientation will be off site at the Timber Lane Community Center, 1904 Naplechase Crest Drive in Spring. Participants must be 16 or older or 12-15 if accompanied by a parent or guardian. Limited space is available, and registration is required. For more information and to register, visit apps.hcp4.net.
Bay Area Sierra Club Meeting: Armand Bayou Nature Center News
On Jan. 19, 2022, from 7-8:30 p.m., the Bay Area chapter of the Sierra Club will hold a virtual meeting featuring a speaker from Armand Bayou Nature Center, who will discuss current activities and projects at the ABNC. The Nature Center’s 2,500 -acre site includes natural wetlands, forest, and restored native prairie. One topic of discussion will be the steps involved in creating new native prairie habitat. The Nature Center features a network of hiking trails, and offers canoe/kayak outings, and a range of educational and recreational opportunities. For more information and to register, visit Meetup.com.
The Energy Transition: Why, How, Who, When, How Much
On Jan. 20, 2022, from 11 a.m.-noon, the Argentina-Texas Chamber of Commerce will present a webinar featuring Sergio Kapusta, Ph.D., professor of the School of Engineering at Rice University and director of the Rice Energy and Natural Resources Initiative. He will discuss the energy transition in perspective; why climate negotiations are frustrating; and the main drivers, opportunities, and challenges in the future energy landscape. For more information and to register, visit argentinatexas.org.
Aggregate Mining in the San Jacinto Watershed: Issues and Opportunities
On Jan. 20, 2022, from noon-1 p.m., the Texas Association of Environmental Professionals will hold a virtual luncheon meeting featuring a presentation by Jill Boullion, Executive Director, Bayou Land Conservancy. She will discuss aggregate mining in the San Jacinto Watershed. For more information and to register, visit taep.memberclicks.net.
The Bald Eagles of Houston
On Jan. 20, 2021, from 6:30-8 p.m., Houston Audubon will host a special speaker event featuring Trey Morris, who will provide a deep dive into the bald eagles of Houston. Morris has been following several pairs of local eagles for over 12 years and will share photographs and stories from his personal life with these birds. For more information and to register, visit houstonaudubon.app.neoncrm.com.
Regionally Coordinated Transportation Plan Update
Every five years, the Houston-Galveston Area Council updates its Regionally Coordinated Transportation Plan to look for new opportunities to provide efficient and effective public transportation services across the entire 13-county region, especially for seniors, persons with disabilities, persons with low incomes, veterans, and youth. With the public’s help, guidance, and active participation, h-GAC has developed an update based on the region’s needs. You can learn more about each theme below, or read the entire RCTP update at engage.h-gac.com. H-GAC also encourages you to attend any of our virtual open houses: January 20 at 6:30 p.m., January 25 at 2:30 p.m., or January 26 at 2:30 p.m. During that time, H-GAC staff will be on-hand to answer any questions you may have. For more information and to register, visit engage.h-gac.com.
Houston Arbor Day at Cypress Creek
On Jan. 22, 2022, Bayou Land Conservancy and partnering organizations will hold a volunteer tree-planting event at Harris County Precinct 4’s Kickerillo-Mischer Park. Volunteers will plant native trees that will help protect water quality and community health. There are two shifts (either from 9-10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m-12:30 p.m.). Volunteers can register for one or both. For more information and to register, visit bayoulandconservancy.org.
Spring Branch Virtual Bike Ride
The Spring Branch Bike Ride, originally scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, has transitioned into a virtual challenge to complete anytime over the course of a month. Post a social media photo of your trip using the hashtag #ParksByYou, and tag Houston Parks Board when you cycle the trail between January 22 and February 22 to receive a Houston Parks Board swag bag, mailed directly to you. Spring Branch Trail Phase One was completed in December 2020 and plans are in motion for the Spring Branch Trail Phase Two to expand the trail west towards Baseball USA. To read more about the Spring Branch Trail projects, visit houstonparksboard.org.
Sustainable Living Through Permaculture
Permaculture is a design methodology that focuses on sustainable practices using effective principles and process found in nature. In a post-Harvey Houston, permaculture principles directly address the ways to be more sustainable and flood resistant in both garden and home design. This class is Part 1 of a two-part module, which in turn is part of a five-module Permaculture Design Certificate Class Series hosted by Urban Harvest in partnership with the Permaculture Guild of Houston. Learn more at UrbanHarvest.org.
2022 Science Is For Everyone webinars
The American Meteorological Society Board on Outreach and Informal Education presents SCIENCE IS FOR EVERYONE, a series of science education opportunities aimed at improving the scientific literacy of all community members across the globe. The 2022 Science Is For Everyone will kick off with three evening webinars during the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in Houston from Jan. 24-26, 2022. Webinars, which begin at 7 p.m. each evening, feature subject matter experts on extreme weather and air quality and are hosted by local on-air meteorologists from KPRC, Fox26, and ABC13. On Monday, the topic will be Water, Friend of Foe? On Tuesday, the topic will be Too Hot…Too Cold. On Wednesday, the topic will be The Air You Breathe. Registration for each event is free and required (click on the links above). Educators will be provided with documentation for professional development records. For questions, please contact Vicky Gorman at GormanAMS@aol.com.
EPA Healthy Environmental Living Program Grant opportunity
The U.S. EPA recently announced the availability of funds and solicits applications that work directly with communities to reduce environmental risk to protect and improve human health and the quality of life. The Healthy Environmental Living Program (HELP) will achieve this through identifying and funding 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. The closing date for applications is Jan 28, 2022. For more information and to apply, visit grants.gov.
Reminders About Ongoing Opportunities
- 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.
- Climate Solutions 101. On Tuesdays through February 15, 2022, the Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston presents a webinar discussion on solutions to climate change. This course, presented in video units and in-depth conversations, combines Project Drawdown’s trusted resources with the expertise of several inspiring voices from around the world. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com.
- 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.
- Follow a young Game Warden patrolling the sparsely-populated counties north of Abilene, and learn how he turned a tragedy from his youth into a career of helping others
- Three sons take on management of their family ranch after the passing of their father, sustaining their father’s legacy of land stewardship, continually learning, and educating others on land management practices
- In the heart of the Hill Country is the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, and here you can find the endangered golden-cheeked warbler. Join some biologists as they monitor these unique birds during their nesting season
- A wait in the blind yields the colorful songbirds of Guadalupe River State Park
Additional Upcoming Events
- 1/23/22: Sustainable Living Through Permaculture
- 1/27/22: Bird Survey
- 1/27/22: Going Green Lecture: Taking Action to Improve Water Quality
- 1/29/22: Birding 101
- 1/29/22: RDA’s Gala 2022: The Resilient City
- 1/30/22: The Grammar of Creation: What is Nature Speaking to Us?
- 2/1-17/22: Civic Science: Inquiry to Action Virtual Learning Course
- 2/5/22: Wildlife Rehabilitation
- 2/11/22: Parks and Natural Areas Summit and Awards
- 2/12/22: Walk on the Wild Side
- 2/16/22: Resiliency and Recovery Workshop
- 2/17/22: Urban Reads: Rachel T. Kimbro
- 2/19/22: Abandoned Crab Trap Removal
- 2/21/22: Volunteer Tree Planting at Big Thicket National Preserve
- 2/24/22: Trash Free Texas Adopt-A-Spot Webinar
- 3/1/22: Volunteer Engagement Training Series (through 3/10)
- 3/2-4/22: Texas Land Conservation Conference (Austin)
- 3/2-4/22: Texas Energy Summit (Austin)
- 3/3/23: 50th Annual Buffalo Bayou Partnership Regatta
- 3/24/22: Best Boards conference
- 3/26/22: River, Lakes, Bays ‘N Bayous Trash Bash
- 4/10/22: Earth Day Houston at Discovery Green with CEC–Exhibit, volunteer, sponsor!
- 4/15/22: The Great Texas Birding Classic (through 5/15)
- 4/25-28/22: 2022 Gulf of Mexico Conference (Baton Rouge)
- 4/28-29/22: SSPEED’s 10th Conference: Post-Harvey Climate & Flood Impacts on the Built Environment (rescheduled from January)
- 5/17/22: Kinder Institute Luncheon
Check out the latest Green Jobs at cechouston.org/green-jobs/.