Houston Environmental News Update July 21, 2021

National Moth Week, Plastic Pickup Challenge, Lunch and Learn: Waterways, Fleet Electrification in Texas, Celebrate Architecture Gala, Green Jobs and more

Polyphemus moth photo 116076852, (c) frymierj94, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC)

This year, National Moth Week is observing its tenth anniversary July 17-25, 2021. NMW encourages individuals to not only appreciate moths, but also to become citizen scientists and contribute data. 

As one of the most diverse and successful organisms on the planet, moths may be short lived, but they pack much excitement, complexity, and duties into their brief life. Moths can even impersonate other animals. For example, certain moths have evolved to look like less palatable insects such as the wasp. Some moths are as small as a pinhead while others are the size of an adult hand. They are an essential component of the food chain. An estimated 95 percent of nesting birds rear their young on insects, and caterpillars make up a significant part of that. 

The Lepidoptera order includes both butterflies and the much more numerous moths. In general, moths can be distinguished from butterflies by their antenna: butterflies usually have long, thin antennae tipped with a ball.

Salt Marsh Moth Photo 142400937, (c) Sonorabee, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC)

The most commonly observed moths (as recorded in iNaturalist) in the Houston area include the following species:

  • Salt Marsh Moth (aka the fuzzy caterpillar racing across bike trails)
  • Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth
  • Southern Flannel Moth (the puss moth caterpillar, or asp, notable for its excruciatingly painful sting)
  • Polyphemus Moth
  • Fir Tussock Moth
  • Fall Webworm Moth
  • Yellow-striped Armyworm Moth
  • Tersa Sphinx
  • Giant Leopard Moth (also known as the woolly bear caterpillar)
  • Luna Moth

Moth Night Out Event at Trinity River Refuge

Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge will host its Annual Moth Night Out Event on Friday, July 23 as part of National Moth Week events occurring across the country.  Interested folks will meet at the Refuge Headquarters building at 9 p.m. to see and photograph some of the over 950 species of moths documented around the building’s security lights.  Black lights and mercury vapor lights will also be used. At 9 pm., Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge Biologist Laurie Lomas Gonzales will give a talk titled “The Moths at night, need less light.”  She will discuss the plight of moths, light pollution, and simple steps you can do at home to help moths at home. Stuart Marcus will lead moth identification outside starting around 9:30 p.m. The Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters building is located at 601 FM 1011. Liberty, directly across the street from the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center. If you are not yet fully vaccinated, wearing a mask is required: in federal buildings and outdoors on federal land when social distancing cannot be maintained. Call the Refuge office at 936/336-9786 for more information. All ages are invited.

If you want to spend time outside for an evening of mothing and observing, check out the moth night events hosted by The Native Prairies Association of Texas.

If you–like most moths–are a night owl, stay on the lookout for these friends. You can leave a porch light on and check for them when it is dark. Here’s a great video, from the US Fish & Wildlife Service near Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, describing how to observe insects at night.


CEC NOTES

Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers

Engage your students with lessons outdoors. Over 30 workshops are in the regional summer professional development calendar to connect you with local resources. Sign up today at hereinhouston.org.


Breaking Through – How to Build A Strong, Sustainable Nonprofit

Presented by the Executive Service Corps of Houston and Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, Breaking Through – How to Build A Strong, Sustainable Nonprofit is a free, robust, six-month business training program for nonprofit organizations with a multifaceted approach including workshops, mentoring/coaching, and development of of a business plan. Topics covered include governance, financial management, marketing and branding, fundraising, volunteers, insurance, IT, HR, and disaster planning. Apply now for a July program start date. Special consideration given to CEC’s member and partner organizations. Download the flyer and simple application.


Montopolis: The Living Coast

We are excited to announce that The Living Coast event, planned for last year but postponed, has been rescheduled for Sep. 18, 2021, at MATCH. The Living Coast performance by Montopolis combines original music, live narration, and cinematic images of the Texas gulf coast. Surfers and sailors, shrimpers and oilmen, poets and scientists all share their stories about this complicated region of serene beauty, vast industry, and incredible contradictions. All ticket sales will be donated to the Matagorda Bay Foundation and the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition.  Tickets now available.


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

Continue reading

Port Houston Commission Meeting – July 20, 2021

PortHouston Logo

The Port Houston Commission held its monthly public meeting on Tuesday, July 20, 2021 via Webex webinar. The meeting included an update from Port Houston’s Sustainability Action Team, public comment regarding an emissions leak in Galena Park, and the approval of a million-dollar, multi-year program for the development and improvement of parks and green spaces in East Harris County. Significant votes held during the meeting are detailed below by section.

To view the full list of agenda items and webinar details, click here.

Visit https://porthouston.com/leadership/public-meetings/ for more information, such as the audio recording and meeting minutes.

Continue reading

Houston Environmental News Update July 14, 2021

50 Years of Connecting Our Environmental Community! Welcome Dr. Renae McGowen. Uneven RunOff, KPC Conservation Cemeteries survey, Bird Banding, Moth Week events, Green Jobs and more

Fifty years ago, on July 14, 1971, the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition was incorporated as a nonprofit organization for “charitable and educational purposes…leading to the improvement of the environment.” It was to do this by undertaking the following activities (as indicated in our articles of incorporation):

  1. Provide civic and professional groups with continuing educational opportunities for the development of common policy positions concerning matters affecting environmental quality;
  2. Provide member groups with an enlarged opportunity to share such fiscal, administrative, personnel, and expert resources as may be necessary to the conduct of such studies, inquiries, research, consultative and educational activities required in the development of recommendations concerning environmental control policies and programs;
  3. Provide member groups and other interested organizations with continuing information concerning public hearings, legislative, and governmental actions of relevance to environmental quality control policies, programs, and actions;
  4. Disseminate information beneficial to the public and community concerning the causes and prevention of environmental degradation through public discussion groups, forums, panels, lectures, or other similar educational programs;
  5. Accept and administer gifts, donations, and bequests, whether of money, personal property, or real estate, and otherwise to accumulate, administer and disburse funds to advance or achieve any of the above stated purposes;
  6. Encourage the continuing support of the public in all the activities of the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition Educational Fund throughout the area served by this organization.

Terry Hershy has long been recognized as the driving force behind the creation and perseverance of the CEC. The coalition she built started with an outstanding group of women who were proactive in the environmental causes of the day: Helen Anderson, Marguerite Johnston Barnes, Anne Heesch Coates, Mary Cravens, Kay Crooker, Dorothy Davis, Sarah Emmott, Hana Ginzbarg, Shirley Wozencraft Goodwin, Ada Grundy, Gabrielle Hale, Diana Hobby, Ann Wier Jones, Letty Knapp, Marjorie Milby, Marion Monsen, Cynthia Rowan Taylor, Lucie Wray Todd, Eloise Walsh, Maggie Wray, Barrie Zimmelman. Our articles of incorporation indicate that the original trustees were Arthur A. Atkinson, Ph.D.; Fred E. Bunger; and George H. Hagle. The incorporators were Stuart N. Henry, Andrew C. Olivo, and Charles S. Matlock. 

These visionaries saw that there was a need for local environmental groups (about two dozen) to communicate with each other, to coordinate their efforts, and to support each other. They created the CEC to serve that need.

Originally, the Coalition published a joint calendar listing the activities of member groups in order to avoid conflicting events and duplication of programs. Soon an answering service was established, community forums were organized, and the coalition grew. They successfully lobbied for many quality of life issues. Together, they saved Buffalo Bayou from being straightened and lined with concrete, they created a nature center at Armand Bayou, and they built safe places to ride bicycles – just to name a few early accomplishments. The CEC has served as an incubator for new organizations (and provided the first webpages for many of them in 1996), shared information about environmental opportunities with hundreds of thousands of people, and sparked more connections in our environmental community than we can count. Learn more about our history–and that of the broader environmental community–by viewing our work-in-progress timeline. For 50 years, CEC has been undertaking the tasks set forth at the time of incorporation. 

With your help, along with our extended community of environmental organizations, volunteers, newsletter subscribers, donors, partners, members, event attendees, educators, filmmakers, and the multitude of people in our region taking large and small actions every day, we can continue to protect and improve our environment–for everyone. 

Today we begin a year-long campaign to celebrate the extraordinary legacy that they created. Our initial goal is to raise $50,000 in unrestricted funds to support CEC’s efforts. We are a small organization–only two regular employees (see below)–and your support at any level makes a tremendous difference. Please consider giving $50, $500, $5,000, or $50,000 (or more). 

While financial support is critical to our continued success, it is the breadth, depth, and diversity of our coalition that defines the CEC. You can contribute in other ways:

  • Share our newsletter with a friend, acquaintance, or coworker.
  • If you are involved with an environmental organization that is not yet a member of the CEC, please reach out to become a member.
  • Volunteer! We are currently recruiting board and committee members to help plan events like the Green Film Series and Earth Day Houston, to contribute to our publications, to guide our burgeoning environmental education program, to provide strategic and financial oversight.
  • Contribute to CEC’s timeline! Let us know about activities, accomplishments, and milestones of the CEC and other environmental organizations doing work in the Houston region; legislative, policy, legal, and programmatic wins (and losses); and, for context, events within the broader environmental–and environmental justice–movement. Send information to rachel@cechouston.org.
  • Support other organizations doing environmental work in the Houston region.

Thank you for being part of our environmental community.


CEC NOTES

CEC Welcomes Dr. Renae McGowen as our Environmental Education Specialist

CEC is delighted to welcome Dr. Renae McGowen to manage our environmental education programs. Dr. McGowen is an award winning higher education administrator and adjunct professor with a demonstrated history of success in the higher education industry. Skilled in corporate development, revenue generation, nonprofit organization, instructional design, student development, and strategic planning. She is a proven adult education leader with a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) focused in Higher Education Administration and a Masters degree with emphasis in Training and Development. She has a passion for the environment and is excited to work to connect the environmental community with teachers and their students. Learn more about Renae at cechouston.org.


Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers

Engage your students with lessons outdoors. Over 30 workshops are in the regional summer professional development calendar to connect you with local resources. Sign up today at hereinhouston.org.


Breaking Through – How to Build A Strong, Sustainable Nonprofit

Presented by the Executive Service Corps of Houston and Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, Breaking Through – How to Build A Strong, Sustainable Nonprofit is a free, robust, six-month business training program for nonprofit organizations with a multifaceted approach including workshops, mentoring/coaching, and development of of a business plan. Topics covered include governance, financial management, marketing and branding, fundraising, volunteers, insurance, IT, HR, and disaster planning. Apply now for a July program start date. Special consideration given to CEC’s member and partner organizations. Download the flyer and simple application.


Montopolis: The Living Coast

We are excited to announce that The Living Coast event, planned for last year but postponed, has been rescheduled for Sep. 18, 2021, at MATCH. The Living Coast performance by Montopolis combines original music, live narration, and cinematic images of the Texas gulf coast. Surfers and sailors, shrimpers and oilmen, poets and scientists all share their stories about this complicated region of serene beauty, vast industry, and incredible contradictions. All ticket sales will be donated to the Matagorda Bay Foundation and the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition.  Tickets now available.


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

Continue reading