Houston Environmental News Update June 22, 2022

Texas Heat, Summer of Action listening sessions, The Buzz About Bees, Pollinator Walk, BioBlitz, Pollinator Workshop, Green Jobs, and more

Dear Friends,

As you no doubt know, Tuesday marked the first day of summer! Of course, as we Southeast Texans and much of the country can attest, the extended heat wave we’ve been experiencing would seem to indicate summer has been here for some time.

In Texas, the heat isn’t just affecting those of us who live in largely air-conditioned cites and suburbs. As Houston Public Media reports, “About 80% of Texas is currently experiencing some level of drought conditions, ranging from ‘moderate’ to ‘exceptional’. The drought, which caused wildfires across the state earlier this year and prompted burn bans, is now negatively affecting farmers and ranchers. A lack of rain during the spring resulted in lower crop production and decreased soil moisture levels, with no relief in sight.”

Houston Public Media also reminds us that “Texas is facing an intense wildfire season, with already over 200,000 acres burned so far.”

“Of course, wildfires can have devastating consequences for people, agriculture and the environment. But they also bring some positive ecological effects,” the story continues.

Wildfires can destroy agricultural crops, grazing fields, and structures, and also can lead to flash floods and soil erosion.

“But while uncontrolled wildfires have destructive consequences, [Karl] Flocke [of the Texas A&M Forest Service[ says fire itself isn’t a bad thing for the plains landscape that covers much of Texas, ‘This is a fire adapted ecosystem. It’s just the nature of the vegetation we have out there. It will burn, and it is good, to a degree, for the ecosystem.'”

But the heat is very often not good for people. When venturing outdoors, please be aware of how your body is responding, drink plenty of water, wear a hat, and go inside if you begin to feel overwhelmed. There are plenty of designated cooling areas around the Houston area, which you can find via this KHOU story.

And speaking of summer, here’s a reminder that CEC, EDF, and the Houston Climate Move are partnering in a Summer of Action. Find details in CEC Notes below.

Top image: U.S. Drought Monitor


CEC NOTES

Summer of Action 2022

This summer, CEC received a grant from the EDF (Environmental Defense Fund) to host a Summer of Action in partnership with the Houston Climate Movement. The purpose of this Summer of Action is twofold: to educate the community and electeds and to advocate for solutions that work for all of us. Through a series of events, we plan to facilitate community healing, provide opportunities for climate education and advocacy, and support frontline leaders in building more resilient communities. The Summer of Action begins in June with two Community Listening Sessions, community members will have the opportunity to voice their concerns, process their climate grief, and connect with one another. The first one will be held on June 26. We hope that you will join us! You can register to attend and find more details at eventbrite.com.

If you are unable to attend the in-person session, a second, virtual listening session will be held via Zoom on Tuesday, June 28 from 6-8pm. Register at eventbrite.com. Learn more about the Summer of Action at 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 July 1, 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.


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 Meeting – San Jacinto River Waste Pits

On June 23, from 6:30-8 p.m., the EPA will be host an in-person meeting at the Flukinger Community Center, 16003 Lorenzo St., Channelview to provide updates on the status of the Waste Pits Superfund Site. The meeting can also be accessed via phone. For more information, including the phone number, visit txhea.org.


Community Flood Resilience Task Force Meeting, Yearly Report

The Harris County Community Flood Resilience Task Force, which advises Harris County on equitable flood resilience planning and projects that take into account the needs and priorities of communities, will meet Thursday, June 23, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The meeting will take place via Zoom and you can attend by registering at eventbrite.com. Additionally, the CFRTF has submitted its first Yearly Report to the county. It will discussed during the June 28 meeting of Harris County Commissioners Court.  

Additionally, the Harris County Community Services Department is currently 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.

Learn about additional public comment opportunities at cechouston.org.


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Houston Environmental News Update June 15, 2022

Charlotte Cisneros named CEC Executive Director, Roadmap for ESG, Camping 101, Innovative Energy Fest, Virtual Bioblitz, Green Jobs, and more

Dear Friends,

All of us at Citizens’ Environmental Coalition are thrilled to announce that Charlotte Cisneros has been selected as our new Executive Director, effective June 27, 2022. Charlotte is is leaving her position as Community Programs Manager at Galveston Bay Foundation.  Previously, she worked in environmental consulting as a Project Manager and Environmental Engineer specializing in environmental site assessment and remediation projects. Charlotte also previously worked at TCEQ as an Environmental Investigator, served in the Peace Corps in Ghana. She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a B.S. in Civil Engineering and a Masters in Environmental Engineering.

Charlotte is already a part of the CEC family, having served as a Board Member, most recently serving as Vice-President. She is part of the Volunteer Alliance Field Crew with the Parks Project, and has held volunteer positions with a variety of other organizations, including the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center and the California Academy of Sciences. Charlotte enjoys a variety of hobbies, including participating in comedy wrestling shows, traveling, and creating art for her Etsy shop.

Paige Powell, who has served as Interim Executive Director since February, will resume her position as Deputy Executive Director.


CEC NOTES

Summer of Action 2022

This summer, CEC received a grant from the EDF (Environmental Defense Fund) to host a Summer of Action in partnership with the Houston Climate Movement. The purpose of this Summer of Action is twofold: to educate the community and electeds and to advocate for solutions that work for all of us. Through a series of events, we plan to facilitate community healing, provide opportunities for climate education and advocacy, and support frontline leaders in building more resilient communities. The Summer of Action begins in June with two Community Listening Sessions, community members will have the opportunity to voice their concerns, process their climate grief, and connect with one another. The first one will be held on June 26. We hope that you will join us! You can register to attend and find more details at eventbrite.com. Learn more about the Summer of Action at 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 June 17, 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.


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


Deepwater Horizon Trustees Annual Public Meeting Webinar

The Trustee Council will hold its seventh annual public meeting and open house via webinar on June 16, from 6-7 p.m. CT. During this meeting, Trustees will present updates on the progress made by the Trustee Council and in each of the seven Restoration Areas. This meeting will also serve as the annual public meeting for the Regionwide Trustee Implementation Group. There will provide an opportunity for public comments after the presentations. There will also be an open house Q&A session following the conclusion of the public meeting presentations and public comment period.  Register at gotowebinar.com.


Virtual Community Engagement Meeting – Stormwater Conveyance Tunnels

On June, 16, from 6:30-7:30 p.m., the Harris County Flood Control District will hold a Virtual Community Engagement Meeting regarding Phase 2 results for the Feasibility Study of Stormwater Conveyance Tunnels. The purpose of Phase 2 was to identify unmet flood mitigation needs in Harris County’s watersheds and – if possible – develop distinct tunnel concept(s) that would meet those needs, while providing sufficient benefit to justify their construction. During Phase 2, it was determined that a tunnel system, rather than one or more individual tunnel alignments, should be the focus of further study. This additional study would be needed before a final decision is made on whether to move forward with adding tunnels to Harris County’s stormwater management system. For more information and a link to join the meeting, visit hcfcd.org.


National Environmental Justice Community Engagement Call

EPA invites Environmental Justice advocates to participate in the next National Environmental Justice Community Engagement Call on June 21 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (Central Time). The purpose of these calls is to inform communities about EPA’s environmental justice work and enhance opportunities to maintain an open dialogue with environmental justice advocates. The agenda includes EPA EJ Leadership Updates, and discussion of BIL Water Infrastructure Investments and Community Technical Assistance. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com.


Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Sunset Review hearing

As reported by Houston Public Media, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is undergoing its once-every-12-year Sunset Review at the Texas Legislature. In the Sunset Review process, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission reviews the performance of state agencies and makes recommendations to the Legislature on how those agencies can improve. State lawmakers are holding a single public hearing on the TCEQ in Austin on June 22, beginning at 9 a.m. (See the associated documents, including the Executive Summary and Staff Report, here.) The hearing will also be available over webcast. Learn more at sunset.texas.gov.


Community Flood Resilience Task Force Yearly Report

The Harris County Community Flood Resilience Task Force, which advises Harris County on equitable flood resilience planning and projects that take into account the needs and priorities of communities, has submitted its first Yearly Report to the county. It will discussed during the June 28 meeting of Harris County Commissioners Court.  

Learn about additional public comment opportunities at cechouston.org.


Continue reading

CEC Welcomes Chandler Jones as a Summer Intern

Chandler is a recent graduate of Mirabeau B. Lamar High School in River Oaks. In the fall she will be attending Princeton University in New Jersey, where she plans to study environmental science and policy. She has chosen this path as she has special interests in the environment and sustainability. She hopes to use her degree to end environmental racism and decrease the environmental hazards in low-income marginalized communities.

In her free time, Chandler enjoys going on long bike rides, reading (romance being her favorite genre), and hanging out with friends. She is a native Houstonian who still enjoys exploring the city she was born and raised in.

Chandler hopes to learn more about the CEC and help them achieve their summer goals.