Houston Environmental News Update May 4, 2022
No Mow May, CEC Executive Director opening, Artists By Nature, Water Works Festival, Confronting Climate Gridlock, Green Jobs and more
Ah, May, when spring is in full bloom (and the hot Texas summer is still in the distance) and people’s thoughts turn to … mowing their lawns.
But what if they didn’t? In case you hadn’t heard (as some us at CEC hadn’t), there is a relatively new movement afoot known as “No Mow May.” As this recent NPR story relates, No Mow May began a few years ago in the United Kingdom and has been gaining attention recently in the U.S., mostly in the Midwest.
Essentially, the effort invites communities to forgo mowing their lawns during the entire month of May as a way of helping pollinators. According to scientists, NPR reports, the extra-long grass helps feed pollinators who are emerging from their winter hibernation.
Pollinators, of course, provide a wide range of benefits for the local environment and our own well-being. They help propagate the entire ecosystem, and also increase the beauty of our region. Prairie grasses and wildflowers help absorb storm water, which in turn helps reduce flooding. And plants of all types help sequester carbon, which plays a large role in reducing the greenhouse effect and climate change.
No Mow May hasn’t yet caught on in the greater Houston region or Texas, but there’ always hope. In the meantime, you can learn more about and get involved with protecting pollinators through such CEC member organizations such at the Native Prairie Association of Texas, Native Plant Society of Texas, Katy Prairie Conservancy, Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, Houston Urban Gardeners, Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center, Mercer Botanic Gardens, Houston Botanic Garden, Nature Discovery Center, Texas Master Naturalists, and many more.
Photo: Native grasslands at Katy Prairie Conservancy (via their website)
Citizens’ Environmental Coalition seeks Executive Director
Citizens’ Environmental Coalition is seeking a new, permanent Executive Director to lead the organization, and to design and direct strategies to support the mission of fostering dialogue, education, and collaboration on environmental issues in the Greater Houston Area. Duties for the executive director will include overseeing the administration, financial performance, programs, and strategic plan of the organization. Other key duties include board governance, fundraising, marketing, and community engagement as they fit into the CEC mission. The position reports directly to the Board of Directors. For the full job description and application instructions, visit cechouston.org.
Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers
Join fellow environmental educators every other Friday morning for a quick check-in to collaborate. The next meeting is May 6, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Bring your coffee (or tea) and ideas for things that are working in your programs (or questions about things that are not). The Zoom call is hosted by regional board members from the Texas Association for Environmental Education. Email Alicia at Alicia.Mein@pct3.hctx.net for Zoom link and any questions.
Virtually Wild! Texas Student Learning Programs
Region 4 Education Service Center partners with the Virtually Wild! Texas team to provide students with engaging and interactive TEKS-aligned virtual environmental education field trips that highlight careers in conservation. These free 45-minute programs are live, and teachers and students are encouraged to engage with natural resources professionals by asking questions. Topics vary by program and have included endangered species, animal adaptations, habitat exploration, wildlife crime investigations, and more! Public, private, homeschool, hospitals, and education sites are welcome to view. See program listings and register at esc4.net.
- May 6: Wildlife by Design “Across Texas”
- May 9-12: The Inside-Out International Conference (Atlanta)
- May 19: City Critters
- June 1: How to Develop Activities that Students Love and Teachers Use
- June 27-29: Exploring Sustainability through Student-Driven Projects
CAST22 Call for Proposals
The Science Teachers Association of Texas (STAT) has announced the CAST22 Call for Proposals is now open. The annual Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST), presented by the Science Teachers Association of Texas, traditionally features hundreds of breakout sessions presented by educators who generously share their best strategies for inspiring discovery of the world through science. STAT invites you to turn your innovative teaching strategies and lesson plans into proposals for sessions that could benefit educators and students across Texas and beyond. Submit your proposal by Tuesday, May 31 to share your expertise at CAST22, November 10–12 in Dallas.
“For the Love of Earth” exhibition at Archway Gallery
Thursday, May 5, is the last day to see he exhibition “For the Love of Earth” at Archway Gallery, 2305 Dunlavy Street in the Montrose area. This group exhibition of Archway artists “challenges the viewer to consider the fragility of our planet and all living things on it and to take actions which will bring beneficial change.” Archway Gallery has chosen to partner with Citizens’ Environmental Coalition. Twenty-five percent of the sales of the works featured in “For the Love of Earth” will be donated to CEC.
Please scroll down to read about public engagement opportunities and notes from our member organizations and the community.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
2008/15 O3 NAAQS Status Update
Following Clean Air Act requirements, EPA is proposing determinations for whether certain areas have met the 2008 or 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone, or smog. EPA is proposing determinations regarding the air quality progress of seven nonattainment areas classified as “Serious” for the 2008 ozone NAAQS, while also proposing similar actions for 31 nonattainment areas classified as “Marginal” for the 2015 ozone NAAQS. For areas not meeting the ozone standards, today’s proposals outline new timeframes and next steps for states to take to improve air quality. In Texas, these proposals impact Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio areas. For further information, including how to comment or register for the virtual public hearing planned for May 9, please visit the links for the 2008 and/or 2015 NAAQS.
Public Comment Period for Union Pacific Railroad Company extended
The public comment period for Union Pacific Railroad Company/Application No. 50343 has been extended until midnight on May 10. The application seeks a renewal and major amendment of Hazardous Waste Permit/Compliance Plan No. 50343 to authorize: the continued post-closure care and corrective action at the facility; the addition of solid waste management units and areas of concern subject to corrective action; updates to on-site and off-site plume management zones; the addition of a Response Action Plan to address soil and groundwater contamination; and the addition of alternate point of exposure wells. For more information and to submit comments, visit tceq.texas.gov and search by the application number.
Learn about additional public comment opportunities at cechouston.org.
COALITION & COMMUNITY NOTES
We have endeavored to confirm the opportunities listed below. Please consider confirming directly with the hosts.
Disaster Debris Workshop
On May 5, from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., the Houston-Galveston Area Council will hold its annual Disaster Debris Workshop in a hybrid format. The workshop will include information on best management practices for disaster debris management and information on current state and federal regulations. For more information and to register, visit constantcontact.com.
Natural Resources Advisory Committee Meeting
On May 5, from 2-4 p.m., the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Natural Resources Advisory Committee will hold a hybrid meeting at the H-GAC headquarters, 3555 Timmons Land, second floor conference room, and on Zoom. Registration is requested to attend in person and required to attend online. The Natural Resources Advisory Committee serves as a forum to advise the H-GAC Board and local decision-makers on policy issues affecting natural resources in the 13-county Houston-Galveston region. For more information, contact Rachel Windham.
Witness Series Part 4: Artists by Nature
On May 7, from 9-11:30 a.m., the Nature Heritage Society and partnering organizations will host the final Spring 2022 Witness Series offering, which will speak to the artist in each person. Artists by Nature will explore the historic E.R. and Ann Taylor Park and offer an artistic experience that examines space, nature, and time. Participants will join Houston Audubon on a bird walk for inspiration. For more information and to register, visit houstonaudubon.app.neoncrm.com.
Water Works Festival
On May 7, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Houston Public Works will hold its Water Works Festival at Houston Botanic Garden. At this family friendly event, participants will learn from experts about topics such as sustainability, environmental protection, water conservation, water infrastructure, recycling, the water cycle, local water systems, native plants, species habitats, weather and ecology. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com.
Confronting Climate Gridlock
On May 10, beginning at noon, the Center for Houston’s Future will host an online discussion with Daniel Cohan, atmospheric scientist and associate professor of environmental engineering at Rice University, as he discusses his new book, Confronting Climate Gridlock: How Diplomacy, Technology, and Policy Can Unlock a Clean Energy Future. In the book Cohan argues that escaping the gravest perils of climate change will first require American diplomacy, technological innovation, and policy to catalyze decarbonization globally. Raj Mankad, op-ed Editor at the Houston Chronicle, will moderate the discussion. For more information and to register, visit centerforhoustonsfuture.org
May Green Team
On May 11, from 9 a.m.-noon, the Houston Parks Board will hold a Green Team volunteer event at Bayou Greenways Park on White Oak Bayou. The project site is located at 301 Studewood St., Houston. Participants will be rescuing plants from the site to be relocated to other conservation sites. What to wear: closed-toed shoes, clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, work gloves if you have them. HPB will have water, snacks, gloves, and any tools needed. For more information and to register, visit houstonparksboard.volunteerhub.com.
Oyster Creek Stakeholder Meeting
On May 11, from 1-3 p.m., the Houston-Galveston Area Council invites residents, local governments, businesses, and non-profits within the Oyster Creek Watershed in Brazoria and Fort Bend counties to attend a stakeholder meeting at the Angleton Public Library, 401 E. Cedar, Angleton. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss water quality issues affecting communities in the Oyster Creek watershed south of Sugar Land, including Angleton, Arcola, Bailey’s Prairie, Bonney, Clute, Holiday Lakes, Iowa Colony, Juliff, Lake Jackson, Missouri City (Sienna Plantation), Richwood, Rosharon, and Sandy Point. Pollutants, specifically fecal bacteria, in this waterway may impact public health, local economies, and the natural environment. Residents and organizations are invited to participate in this and future meetings to provide input that will be used to review the current draft bacteria reduction plan and to consider the next steps needed to put the plan into action. For more information on the project, visit h-gac.com.
Chocolate Bay Stakeholder Meeting
On May 11, from 6-8 p.m., the Houston-Galveston Area Council invites residents, local governments, businesses, and non-profits within the watersheds that make up Chocolate Bay—Chocolate Bayou, Mustang Bayou, and Halls Bayou—to attend a stakeholder meeting at the Alvin Public Library, 105 S. Gordon St. Alvin. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss water quality issues affecting communities in the Chocolate Bay watershed, including: Algoa, Arcola, Alvin, Fresno, Hillcrest, Iowa Colony, Liverpool, Manvel, Missouri City, Pearland, and Santa Fe. Pollutants, specifically fecal bacteria, in these waterways may impact public health, local economies, and the natural environment. Residents and organizations will be invited to participate in the future planning meetings to provide input that will be used to develop a watershed-based plan to address water quality. For more information on the project, visit h-gac.com.
2022 Scenic Star Reception
On May 12, from 5:30-7 p.m., Scenic Houston will hold its 2022 Scenic Star Reception, celebrating Hermann Park Conservancy and the SPARK Park program. The event will be held at Lott Hall at Hermann Park, 6201 Hermann Park Drive. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit scenichouston.org.
Bike for Ukraine
On May 12, beginning at 6 p.m., Bike Houston will kick off its Houston Bike Month activities with a ride with HTX4Ukraine, an all-volunteer group of Ukrainians and Ukrainian-Americans in the Houston region who are working to coordinate efforts to provide aid for Ukraine. The ride will begin at Electric Avenue in the Heights. For more information, visit bikehouston.org.
Parks and Natural Areas Roundtable Field Trip
On May 13, beginning at 9 a.m., the Houston-Galveston Area Council is hosting a Parks and Natural Areas Roundtable Field Trip for a tour of Clear Creek Nature Center, 1220 Egret Bay Blvd N, League City. Participants will learn more about the nature center and League City’s award-winning Outdoor Education Initiative project. Participants will meet at the Nature Center. Registration is requested. For more information, contact Andrea Tantillo.
Smarter About Sustainability Seminar
On May 14, from 9 a.m.-noon, The Woodlands Township will present a webinar featuring Justin Bower, principal planner of community and environmental planning for the Houston-Galveston Area Council, who will discuss how riparian areas are the last line of defense for slowing and filtering stormwater before it reaches the creeks and lakes we depend on, the direct link between our lawns and landscapes and healthy riparian zones and waterways, and other topics. For more information and to register, visit thewoodlandstownshipblog-environment.com.
Bay Day Festival
On May 14, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., the Galveston Bay Foundation will host its annual Bay Day Festival at the Kemah Boardwalk. Bay Day is a free, one-day celebration of all things Galveston Bay, complete with live animal exhibits, stage performances, crafts and more. For more information, visit galvbay.org.
Birdathon 2022 is Houston Audubon’s annual spring fundraiser where participants compete to count as many bird species as possible in a 24-hour period while fundraising for bird conservation. The birding period runs through May 5. Team reports are due on May 9. Houston Audubon and partners will offer guided birding opportunities around town in conjunction with Birdathon. These bird walks will give participants some hands-on birding experience so you can feel comfortable forming your own Birdathon team afterward and competing. The Awards Celebration will be held May 21 at the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary. All contributions support Houston Audubon’s mission to advance the conservation of birds and positively impact their supporting environments. For more information and to register, visit houstonaudubon.org.
Spring Fling at Gulf Coast Bird Observatory
Through May 8, the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory is hosting its annual Spring Fling at the Quintana Neotropic Bird Sanctuary on Lamar Street across from the Quintana town hall building. Spring Fling is an opportunity to see and celebrate the return of migratory songbirds as they arrive at stopover habitat along the coast. This is great time to enjoy the wide variety of species that migrate through Texas dressed in their spring finery and to see colorful birds like orioles, grosbeaks, tanagers, and numerous warbler species, to name just a few. Knowledgeable volunteers and staff will be on hand to answer your questions, keep a daily list, and sell water, snacks, and field guides. For more information, visit gcbo.org.
The Dark Migration
On May 12, beginning at 7 p.m., Houston Audubon will hold a special speaker event with Cin-Ty Lee, professor of geology at Rice University and a longtime avid birder, who will discuss the “invisible migration” of birds that migrate primarily during nighttime. During the pandemic, Lee and associates took advantage of the solitude to listen to the skies through continuous acoustic recording. Join us on an acoustic symphony of this invisible migration and how such data reveal new information on the nature of avian migration. The event will be held at United Way of Greater Houston, 50 Waugh Drive. For more information, visit houstonaudubon.org.
World Migratory Bird Day in the Americas
World Migratory Bird Day in the Americas is celebrated on May 12. The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center created the occasion in 1993, and the educational campaign focused on the Western Hemisphere celebrated its 25th year in 2018. Since 2007, WMBD has been coordinated by Environment for the Americas, a non-profit organization that strives to connect people to bird conservation. WMBD celebrates and brings attention to one of the most important and spectacular events in the Americas – bird migration. To learn more, visit migratorybirdday.org.
Destination: High Island
Through May 22, Houston Audubon invites the public to High Island and Bolivar Peninsula for the unrivaled spectacle of bird migration on the Upper Texas Coast. Among the vantage points, visitors can use the new Kathrine G. McGovern Canopy Walkway. High Island sanctuaries are open every day from dawn to dusk. Free admission for children, students, and High Island residents. For more information, visit houstonaudubon.org.
Lights Out, Texas!
Lights Out, Texas!, a campaign of education, awareness, and action that focuses on turning out lights at night during the spring and fall migrations to help protect the billions of migratory birds that fly over Texas, is under way. The full Spring Migration period runs through June 15, and the critical Spring Peak Migration period runs through May 12. Texan by Nature and Audubon Texas lead Lights Out, Texas! efforts across the state. For more information on how to participate, visit texanbynature.org.
Beautify the Bucket
Registration is open until May 8 for Artist Boat’s Beautify the Bucket competition. which allows participants to take an active role in beautifying Galveston Beaches and improving stewardship behaviors. Participants in the competition paint a blue trash barrel destined for Galveston Beaches based on various themes. After the competition, the barrels will be added to Galveston’s Beaches where they will be enjoyed by visitors and encourage proper disposal of trash to reduce aquatic trash. Trash Barrels are limited and are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. $20 registration fee. Beautified buckets are due back by June 1 at 5 p.m. Viewing and judging are held on June 4 at East Beach during the World Ocean Day Festival.
Ocean Awareness Contest
The 11th annual Ocean Awareness Contest is a platform for young people to learn about environmental issues through art-making and creative communication, explore their relationship to a changing world, and become advocates for positive change. Students ages 11-18 from around the world are invited to participate. The 2022 Ocean Awareness Contest—THE FUNNY THING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE—challenges students to learn about climate change and its impact on the ocean, and to explore new ways to communicate the urgency of the climate crisis.The deadline for submissions is June 13. For more information, visit bowseat.org. (Image: Student artist Luyi Song)
Reminders About Ongoing Opportunities
- The Path of Hope: A Study on Climate Action for Faith Communities. On Thursdays through May 12, the Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston hosts a weekly online discussion series focusing on how climate change is impacting the core ministries of faith communities around the world, how those impacts will increase in the future, and why these impacts create an imperative for people of faith to advocate for strong US climate action. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com.
- Living the Change. On Tuesdays through May 17, the Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston hosts an online course developed in response to the Walk on Earth Gently multifaith statement presented at the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference. This program focuses on making personal lifestyle changes in three areas: transportation, energy, and food. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com.
- Feral Atlas Summer Intensive Program at Rice University. The Houston Climate Justice Museum will host a week-long summer study intensive on the campus of Rice University from July 18-22, based on the digital humanities project Feral Atlas and led by Rice students and museum staff. Participating students will have the opportunity to be involved in workshops led by local artists and conservationists, travel to nearby museums and collections to meet with museum professionals, and get hands-on experience with disaster recovery. Interested students should fill out this form.
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.
- Meet some of Houston’s most dedicated bayou conservationists, learn about issues the bayou ecosystem has faced over the past century, and see some hope for keeping an urban area and its watery wilderness in balance*
- Take a hike with a dozen dogs through Franklin Mountains State Park and learn some tips for keeping your canine companion comfortable and safe on the trail
- Fall is a great time to head outdoors in East Texas. At Martin Creek Lake State Park the fall foliage draws campers, hikers, and anglers to this heavily wooded park on a 5000 acre lake
- A rainy day doesn’t seem to bother the birds of Houston Audubon’s Smith Oaks Sanctuary*
Additional Upcoming Events
- 5/16/22: TAMEST Natural Hazards Summit: Responding to and Mitigating the Impacts (Lubbock)
- 5/17/22: Kinder Institute Luncheon
- 5/18/22: RDA Civic Forum: Food Equity
- 5/19/22: H-GAC Workshop Series: Drones in Environmental Enforcement
- 5/19/22: Brews and Bayous
- 5/19/22: Houston Bike Summit (through 5/21)
- 5/20/22: Endangered Species Day
- 5/20/22: Houston Bike Summit Soirée
- 5/21/22: Birdathon 2022 Awards Ceremony
- 5/21/22: Houston Art Bike Festival
- 5/22/22: Water in Harmony
- 5/22/22: How Long Will Our Aquifers Last?
- 5/24/22: Bacteria Implementation Group (BIG) Spring Meeting
- 5/25/22: May Green Team volunteer event
- 5/25/22: How to Keep Yourself Healthy in Today’s World
- 5/25/22: Ike Dike community meeting
- 5/31/22: Cotton Bayou Watershed Public Meeting
- 6/4/22: World Ocean Day Festival
- 6/4/21: Houston Oyster & SeaFest
- 6/8/22: Houston Area Urban Forestry Council Annual Meeting
- 6/18/22: Marsh Mania
Check out the latest Green Jobs at cechouston.org/green-jobs/.