Houston Environmental News Update July 27, 2022

Earth Overshoot Day, CEC Happy Hour, Texas Native Cats, Gulf of Mexico Youth Climate Summit, Purple Martin Watch Party, Electric Vehicles 101, Green Jobs, and more

Dear Friends,

This Thursday, July 28, marks Earth Overshoot Day, although it’s not exactly a celebration.

According to the official website, Earth Overshoot Day (originally called Ecological Debt Day) “marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Earth Overshoot Day is hosted and calculated by Global Footprint Network, an international research organization that provides decision-makers with a menu of tools to help the human economy operate within Earth’s ecological limits.”

As you can see in the chart above, the calculated Earth Overshoot Day has steadily moved earlier in the year since the early 1970s, although it seems to have plateaued in recent years.

The organization points to several solutions to move the date to later in the calendar, based around several key areas. We’d like to draw your attention to a few of our own CEC member organizations and other local groups that are working in some of those areas.

Cities: Kinder Institute for Urban Research, U.S. Green Building Council – Texas Gulf Coast, LINK Houston, American Institute of Architects – Houston, Center for Houston’s Future, Rice Design Alliance

Energy: Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), Houston Renewable Energy Group, Evolve, Solar United Neighbors

Food: Urban Harvsst, Blackwood Land Institute, Central City Co-op, Houston Urban Gardeners, Organic Horticulture Benefits Alliance, Plant It Forward

Planet: Environment Texas, Sierra Club Houston Group, Galveston Bay Foundation, Houston Zoo Wildlife Conservation Program, Bayou Land Conservancy, Coastal Prairie Conservancy, Trees for Houston

Of course, these are just a smattering of the many organizations doing good work in our region. For the full directory of CEC member organizations, please visit cechouston.org or check out the searchable, web-based version of our Environmental Resource Guide.

Top image: overshootday.org


CEC NOTES

Summer of Action 2022

Our Summer of Action is clipping along, having produced two successful Community Listening Sessions.

Next on the agenda is a series of three Skill-Building Sessions designed to empower concerned citizens and local community leaders to advocate for climate resilience funding from the Justice40 initiative and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Thanks to funding from EDF, these events are free and open to the public:

Please register at Eventbrite for these and other Summer of Action events. We look forward to seeing you there!

CEC seeks partner organizations for fall Candidate Forum

CEC is looking for member organizations to partner with us in hosting a Candidate Forum on October 2 focused on environmental issues. If you or your organization is interested in teaming up, please send an email to charlotte.cisneros@cechouston.org.


Meet new CEC Executive Director Charlotte Cisneros!

Please join the Citizens’ Environmental Community and its members on August 4, from 5-8 p.m., as we publicly welcome new Executive Director Charlotte Cisneros during a Happy Hour at White Rhino, 319 Milby St. in the East End. In addition to connecting over a cold beverage, we will also provide information on upcoming CEC events and programs, and learn how White Rhino contributes to conservation and sustainability efforts. For more information, see the Facebook event.


Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers

Join fellow environmental educators every other Friday morning for a quick check-in to collaborate. The next meeting is July 29, 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.Mein@pct3.hctx.net or cwilems@galvbay.org 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.


Texas Wildlife Foundation Summer 2022 Teacher Workshops

The Texas Wildlife Foundation is offering Teacher Workshops, both virtual and in-person through July 28. Teacher Workshops are six-hour trainings that introduce attendees to the Texas Wildlife Association, in-class and outdoor lessons and activities, and how to incorporate natural resources into classrooms or programming. Lessons focus on teaching land stewardship, native wildlife, and water conservation and are Science TEKS-aligned for Grades K-8. Learn more and register at texas-wildlife.org.

Other opportunities:


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


OPPORTUNITIES FOR PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT


EPA Gulf of Mexico Division Environmental Justice Discussion Group Kick-off Meeting

Beginning July 28, from 2:30-4 p.m., the EPA Gulf of Mexico Division office plans to host quarterly Environmental Justice discussion sessions to address issues affecting the Gulf Coast states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The inaugural meeting will focus on introductions and expectation-setting. It will kick off what EPA anticipates to be a long-lasting GMD initiative to align its efforts with the deep-rooted work of EJ stakeholders, non-profit organization workers, academics, and municipal, state, and federal partners in our region. For more information and to register, visit teams.microsoft.com.  If you have any questions, send an email to GCEJLS_GMD@epa.gov.


Draft Water Quality Management Plan Update Public Comment Period open through July

Each year, the Houston-Galveston Area Council conducts water quality management planning as part of a Clean Water Act Section 604(b) grant program funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The Water Quality Management Plan Update describes activities that provide data and analysis regarding wastewater infrastructure, watershed planning, and sources of nonpoint source pollution that affect water quality in the Houston-Galveston region. Data collected through this project form the foundation of H-GAC’s watershed-based planning efforts in the region. As part of this process, the Draft Water Quality Management Plan Update is released for a public comment period. The public comment period will close at midnight on Sunday, July 31. The public is invited to provide comments on the report. Written comments can be submitted by email to Brian Sims.


White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council Public Meeting

On August 3-4, from approximately 2 – 6:30 pm. Central Time each day, the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council will hold a public meeting. This free meeting is open to all members of the public. Individual registration is required and is available through the scheduled end time of the meeting day. The WHEJAC is interested in receiving public comments specific to the development of an annual public performance scorecard and the types of indicators or data that would be useful in a scorecard. This scorecard will provide a method for evaluation and accountability to assess the Federal Government’s progress in addressing current and historic environmental injustice. Learn more and register for the meeting at epa.gov.


Harris County flood risk reduction funds surveys

The Harris County Community Services Department is collecting feedback from communities on how to prioritize the $750 million in promised CDBG-MIT funds. The Committees recently submitted this letter to request that the Method of Distribution strongly prioritize flood risk reduction projects. You can find out more at HarrisRecovery.org, and the surveys, in English and Spanish, are open throughout the summer.



Public Comment on Harris County Storm Conveyance Tunnels proposal

The Harris County Flood Control District is seeking public comment on the recently released Feasibility Study on the Countywide Large Diameter Tunnels for Stormwater Conveyance, a $30 billion, 133-mile system of 8 large underground tunnels to drain stormwater out of the county’s bayous and streams. Public comment will be accepted through September 30. The next phase of the project will include community meetings. Find more information, including the presentation slides and video of a public meeting held in June, at hcfcd.org.


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.


Houston Chronicle: Feds want to help build massive wind farm larger than the City of Houston off the coast of Galveston

“More than half a million acres of Gulf of Mexico waters some 24 miles off the coast of Galveston could be dotted by wind turbines after federal officials on Wednesday said they are considering leasing the area for energy projects,” reports Shelby Webb for The Houston Chronicle. “The proposed “wind energy area” covers 546,645 acres — larger than the city of Houston — and could produce enough electricity to power about 2.3 million homes, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said.” Read the full story at houstonchronicle.com. (Photo: Steve Helber, STF / Associated Press)


Understanding Houston: Houston is getting hotter — but what does that mean?

“Everybody knows that Houston is hot, but not everyone realizes how the issues surrounding said heat pose dire consequences for the health of residents in our region — some of which we already feel,” writes Understanding Houston. “Coming off the heels of the hottest June in Houston’s history, we’re taking a data-driven look at the state of heat in Houston and what it means for our region’s health and prosperity — both today and tomorrow.” See the full story at understandinghouston.com.


H-GAC seeks volunteers for Plogging, Plalking, and Pladdling Pilot Group

The Houston-Galveston Area Council is seeking volunteers to help pilot and provide feedback on newly created resources designed to engage residents and recreationists in the activities of plogging, plalking, pliking and pladdling (picking up trash while doing recreational activities like jogging, walking, biking, or paddling). The project team is looking for local governments, Keep Texas Beautiful affiliates, and recreation groups willing to pilot all or specific portions of the resources and provide their feedback upon completion. The pilot period is open through September with feedback collected via a survey. Participants will be asked how the provided resources helped with the promotion, planning, or implementation of recreational cleanup activities. If you are interested in participating, contact Crysta Guzman or Kendall Guidroz at any time during the pilot period. 


Partnering for Change: The Journey to Secure a Better Future for Texas Mountain Lions

On July 27, beginning at 7 p.m., the Houston chapter of the Native Prairie Association of Texas will hold a virtual meeting featuring a presentation by Monica Morrison, a volunteer tiger docent at the Dallas Zoo and founder of Texas Native Cats, a nonprofit that provides education, outreach, and advocacy for Texas’ five species of wild cats, past and present. She will discuss how Texas Native Cats is building an effort to help Texas mountain lions through education, collaboration, and strategic partnerships. For more information and to register, visit Meetup.com.


Program funding opportunity: Improving Coastal Community Resilience with Green Infrastructure

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance’s Integrated Planning Cross-Team Initiative seeks to fund a green infrastructure project that will improve community resilience and reduce water pollution in one of three areas in Texas and Louisiana, including Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Harris and Jefferson Counties. Up to $41,000 is available for a 12 month project; matching funds are not required. Applications are due by July 29. Find the full Request for Proposals and Application at gulfofmexicoalliance.org.


Full STE(A)M Ahead! Creating an Equitable Path to STEM Careers

On July 28, from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Children at Risk will hold a free, virtual summit that will dive into the issues of STEM education, focusing on building a robust and qualified pipeline of professionals in the wake of the pandemic. A learning opportunity for educators and community leaders, this event will highlight the work of STEM industry leaders, educators, and nonprofit innovators working to improve access to STEM education for all students. For more information and to register, visit childrenatrisk.org.


Lone Star Legal Aid’s “All About Ports” workshop series

On July 28, beginning at 7 p.m., Lone Star Legal Aid’s Equitable Development Initiative will host the final installment of an interactive webinar series about how to advocate for environmental justice and economic justice in communities affected by ports and industry along the Texas Gulf Coast. Learn more and register at eventbrite.com.


Gulf of Mexico Youth Climate Summit

From July 29-30, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership will host the inaugural Gulf of Mexico Youth Climate Summit, uniting young environmental stewards ages 15-25 from around the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. The Summit will be dedicated to the preservation of the Gulf in hopes of protecting it from the dire effects of climate change and using it as a base for climate action all over the gulf territories. Participants will engage with fellow youth leaders and experts to engulf themselves in the conversations around the issues facing the Gulf and what they can do to contribute to the environmental movement in their own communities. For more information and to register, visit this Google document.


Buzzz’s Hive Design Workshop

On July 30, from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Architecture Center Houston, in conjunction with the exhibition The Architecture of Bees, will offer a workshop where students ages 7-9 will plan, sketch, and build a model of a hive before presenting their bee-inspired designs to the group. Students will learn about the important role honeybees play in the ecosystem, and about their key design element – the hexagon. For more information and to register, visit aiahouston.org.


Electric Vehicles 101

On July 30, beginning at 10 a.m., the City of Bellaire’s Environmental Sustainability Board will host a Learning Academy presentation called “Electric Vehicles 101.” Katheryn Abou-Charka, interim executive director of Evolve Houston, will answer questions. Rajiv Pandya, chair of the Environmental Sustainability Board, will moderate the session. The in-person event will be held at the Civic Center in Bellaire City Hall, 7008 South Rice Ave., and also virtually over Zoom (register). Coffee and snacks will be available. (Photo: Jebulon, via Wikipedia)



Purple Martin Migration Watch Party

On July 30, beginning at 7:45 p.m., Houston Audubon will host its first Purple Martin Migration Watch Party of the summer. Purple Martins migrate from South America beginning in late January to nest across North America. Before heading back south for the winter, Purple Martins gather in larger numbers and feed on flying insects to fuel up for their long journey. At dusk, groups of up to 500,000 come together to roost. Grab your friends and family, bring a lawn chair, and enjoy a unique experience. This Watch Party will be held at the Willowbrook Plaza parking lot, 17395 Tomball Parkway. Learn more at houstonaudubon.org.


Green Jobs

On July 31, from 6-7 p.m., Christ the King Evangelical Lutheran Church will hold a webinar featuring Steve Stelzer, program director of Houston’s Green Building Resource Center, who will provide a multi-faceted presentation on the topic of green jobs. He will explain the various green and not-so-green interpretations in the job market. He’ll also offer suggestions for “greening up” a conventional job. Time for interactive discussion with the speaker will be provided. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com.


Houston Bird Week calendar submissions

Bird Week 2022 will be held Sep. 17 – 24, and Houston Audubon is looking forward to both in-person and virtual events reaching tens of thousands of people around the world. Due to increased interest and limited calendar space, Houston Audubon is implementing an application process for the official Houston Bird Week calendar. Interested organizations are asked to fill out the Bird Week event application form before August 1. The Bird Week committee will review all applications and respond within two weeks of submission. Please note that events will not be added to the Bird Week calendar until the application has been approved by the committee. Upon approval, they will reach out with further details and a partner agreement. For full information, visit houstonaudubon.org.


Aquatic WILD Workshop

On August 1, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Texas Parks & Wildlife, Project WILD and the Texas Wildlife Association will host Aquatic WILD, a professional development workshop for educators, at the Kickerillo Mischer Preserve. Aquatic WILD invites you to explore and share the fascinating world of aquatic wildlife and ecosystems using fun, hands-on educational activities. Anyone who works with children, including teachers, homeschoolers, informal educators, and scout leaders, is welcome. 6 hours TEA-approved CPE and TEEAC credit is offered. For more information and to register, visit constantcontact.com.


Unveiling of Bayou-Vac

On August 3, from 10-11:30 a.m., the Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s Clean & Green Team will hold the unveiling of its new tool, the Bayou-Vac. Bigger, faster, and more efficient than its predecessor, the Bayou-Vac is a custom-designed boat used to clear trash and debris out of the waterway. The new vessel provides a substantial boost to BBP’s cleanup operation. (Read the press release). The event will be held at Allen’s Landing, 1019 Commerce St. To RSVP, send an email to Trudi Smith, tsmith@buffalobayou.org.



Great American Outdoors Day

Following passage and signing of the Great American Outdoors Act in 2020, August 4 is designated each year as Great American Outdoors Day, a free entrance day at national parks and other federal lands. The Great American Outdoors Act enables national parks and other federal lands to repair and upgrade vital infrastructure and facilities that will enrich the visitor experience, protect resources, and enable increased access for all visitors. In Southeast Texas, federal lands include the Big Thicket National Preserve and the Anahuac National Widlife Refuge. (Photo: National Park Service/Scott Sharaga)


Watershed Leaders Educator Professional Development

On August 5, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Galveston Bay Foundation will host a free educator workshop for to learn how to implement NOAA’s Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE), a learner-centered framework that focuses on investigations into local environmental issues and leads to informed action. Designed for both K-12 formal and informal educators, attendees will have fun implementing a hands-on MWEE at the Trinity Bay Discovery Center: 12110 FM 2354, Beach City. For more information and to register, visit this Google document.


2022 EarthEcho Youth Leadership Summit: The Power of Advocasea

From August 5-6, EarthEcho International will host the 2022 EarthEcho Youth Leadership Summit: The Power of Advocasea, which will unite hundreds of young people, ages 13-25, from around the world for learning, networking, and collaboration focused on restoring and protecting our ocean planet. Leveraging EarthEcho’s global network of scientists, policy leaders, influencers, and youth change-makers, this free, virtual event will convene a community of youth leaders driving #OceanEcho30x30, an initiative to mobilize support for the protection of 30% of the ocean by 2030. For more information and to register, visit earthecho.org.


OHBAPalooza

On August 6, from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., the Organic Horticulture Benefits Alliance will hold its OHBAPalooza, an organic fair and educational event, at the United Way, 50 Waugh Drive. The event will include presentations on such topics of permaculture, high yield gardening, disease causes, and many more. For the full schedule and a list of speakers and to register, visit ohbaonline.org.


Busy Bees on Buffalo Bayou

On August 6, from 9-11 a.m., Buffalo Bayou Partnership will host an activity where participants can get up close and watch bees in action through an observatory beehive. Participants will learn the role of bees in a colony, how honey is made, the life span of a bee, and so much more. Robby Robinson, BBP’s Field Operations Manager, who has nearly 50 years of experience beekeeping, will share his knowledge about raising bees along Buffalo Bayou. For more information and to register, visit buffalobayou.org.


Houston Arboretum Docent Recruitment Open House and Breakfast

On August 6, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center will hold a docent recruitment open house and breakfast. The Arboretum is recruiting individuals for its upcoming docent trainings to prepare for fall programs. Trainings are scheduled to take place in late August, and they are seeking enthusiastic life-long learners for this opportunity. Formal discussion and Q&A will begin at 11 a.m. For more information and to RSVP, visit houstonarboretum.org.


Moth Night at Exploration Green

On August 6, from 8-9 p.m., Exploration Green invites the public to participate in an event to discover what species of moths and other night-flying insects are out and about in Exploration Green. White and UV lights shining on white sheets will attract them where they can be viewed and photographed. In the days after the event, participants will upload our observations to iNaturatlist for identification and so that we can track the species we have found over time. This event is family and pet friendly. For more information, see the Facebook event.


CONTESTS

Youth Innovation Challenge 2022

The Youth Innovation Challenge, hosted by the Global Environmental Education Partnership, gives young people (aged 15–30) around the world a chance to come up with innovative solutions to the pressing environmental issue of marine debris, using EE as a key strategy. They are looking for solutions that are innovative, feasible, and informed by research. Winning solutions will receive global recognition and a $1,000 prize. Proposals must be submitted before September 1 at 11:59 PM U.S. Eastern Time. For more information and to register, visit thegeep.org.


Marine Debris Art Contest

Registration is open through September 1 for Artist Boat’s Marine Debris Art Contest. Artists and ocean-lovers of all ages can submit pieces to display at the art gallery. 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. Art pieces must be brought to Artist Boat (13330 Settegast Road, Galveston) by September 23. The judging and viewing of the art pieces will be held on Oct, 8 at the Galveston Art League. For full rules and submission guidelines, visit artistboat.org.


2022 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest

The National Marine Sanctuaries 2022 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest is underway through September 5. All photographers, regardless of skill level or experience, are invited to participate. Each photographer may submit up to 10 photos (minimum of 1200 pixels wide) that tell the stories of the National Marine Sanctuaries, including Texas’s own Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Winning photographs will be announced in October 2022 as the Sanctuaries celebrate their 50th anniversary. For full contest rules and submission information, visit sanctuaries.noaa.gov.


2022 Wild “InSight” Photo Contest

TWRC Wildlife Center is holding its 4th Wild “InSight” Photo Contest, which raises funds for the Wildlife Center operations and Animal Care Program. Submissions will be accepted through September 26. TWRC Wildlife Center is also seeking sponsors for its 2023 WildInSight Calendar. Contact Anna Saxton for more information. For more information, visit twrcwildlifecenter.org.


Reminders About Ongoing Opportunities

  • Buffalo Bayou Partnership 2022 Summer Species: Bees. Buffalo Bayou Partnership has announced its second annual Summer Species – BEES. Through August, BBP will take the Houston community on a deep dive into these busy little insects. At various locations, experts will lead workshops, walks, talks, and experiential activities for participants of all ages. For the full listing of events, visit buffalobayou.org.
  • The Architecture of Bees. Through August 26, Architecture Center Houston offers the exhibition The Architecture of Bees in the gallery of its headquarters at 902 Commerce St. Curated by architect and beekeeper Wendy Heger, AIA, The Architecture of Bees is an immersive educational visual arts exhibition that brings together designers, architects, naturalists, and beekeepers to illustrate the importance and influence of bees on human design and construction. For more information, visit aiahouston.org.
  • Texas Master Naturalist™ chapters seeking fall volunteers. Several area chapters of the Texas Master Naturalist™ program – a corps of well-informed volunteers who provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities – are seeking volunteers for the fall 2022 training season. Houston-Galveston area chapters include the Galveston Bay Area chapter, the Gulf Coast chapter, and the Lower Trinity River Basin chapter. Learn more at txmn.tamu.edu.

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.

  • A group in the Rio Grande Valley helps fish habitat and the local economy by creating and sustaining the largest area of artificial reef on the Texas coast
  • Sun, sand, and surfing are not just found at the beach. Visit Monahans Sandhills State Park near Midland-Odessa and surf, slide, or tumble down the dunes for some family fun
  • For Robin Bradbery the outdoors is what she calls her “happy place.” That’s no surprise, as many turn to nature for relaxation. But for Robin, it’s more than that–being outdoors helps her to escape the challenges of living with autism
  • At state parks, iconic brown and yellow signs have told visitors where to go for years. And for decades they have all been made in the same shop at Bastrop State Park. The process is not as hands-on as it once was, but the Bastrop sign shop is still humming
  • Join a group of paddlers enjoying the calm Colorado River, downstream of Austin

Additional Upcoming Events


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