Houston Environmental News Update July 13, 2022

Houston Heat Mapping, Sea Turtles Update, Pollinator Walk, Purple Martin Migration Watch Party, Gardening with Native Plants, Green Jobs, and more

Dear Friends,

Hot enough for you? Just kidding, we know the answer. As Houston and Southeast Texas experience record temperatures this early summer, with little relief in sight, we thought this week we would offer a reminder about the the urband heat island effect and heat-mapping efforts in our region.

Almost two years ago, on August 7, 2020, residents of Houston and Harris County took part in the largest single-day, community-led heat mapping effort in Houston. As reported by Carson Sartain of The Nature Conservancy, around 75 community scientists took to the streets with specially-designed thermal sensors attached to their cars or bicycles. They embarked on a 300-square-mile effort to measure and map urban heat in the region.

“Ultimately, the urban heat island effect can impact many aspects of human health and well-being,” Dr. Meredith Jennings, Ph.D., said. “This study will be an important first step to help communities understand urban heat islands, guide policymakers on next steps, and move forward with science-backed solutions to improve quality of life.”

The study, called the Houston Harris Heat Team (or H3AT), is a combined effort of The Nature Conservancy Texas, Resilient Houston, the City of Houston, Harris County Public Health, and the Houston Advanced Research Center.

A wealth of data, stories and other resources from the project are available at h3at.org.

Top image: Houston Harris Heat Team


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!


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 15, 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


Informational Meeting, Public Hearing for CDBG Regional Mitigation Funds Method of Distribution

Houston-Galveston Area Council staff will hold an informational meeting to discuss a conditionally approved preliminary Method of Distribution (MOD) for $488,762,000 in U.S. Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Mitigation funds to provide funds to counties and local jurisdictions for risk mitigation projects related to flooding, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. The meeting will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14. During the meeting, H-GAC staff will provide an overview of the conditionally approved preliminary MOD, including information about data used in its development, and will answer questions. The meeting is online, and registration is required.

H-GAC staff will take oral and written public comments during a public hearing from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 21. The hearing will be at H-GAC, second floor conference rooms, and on Zoom. Registration is requested to attend in person and required to attend online. As it is a public hearing, H-GAC staff is not permitted to respond to any questions or comments during this meeting.


Regional Flood Management Committee Meeting

On July 20, from 1:30-3:30 p.m., the Houston-Galveston Area Council will hold a hybrid meeting of the Regional Flood Management Committee. For more information and to register, visit h-gac.com.


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.


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.


Continue reading

Houston Environmental News Update July 6, 2022

Plastic Free July, All About Ports, Gardening for Bees and Pollinators, Parks and Natural Areas Roundtable, Green Jobs, and more

Dear Friends,

Plastic Free July is a global movement that encourages millions of people to be part of the solution to plastic pollution and do their part for cleaner streets, oceans, and communities. Plastic Free July provides resources and ideas to help you (and millions of others around the world) reduce single-use plastic waste everyday at home, work, school, and even at your local café.

Here in the Upper Texas Gulf Coast region, a host of organizations are holding beach cleanups and other activities to mark the occasion.

Houston Audubon, a member of the Plastic Pollution Prevention Partnership (which also includes Texas Parks and Wildlife, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Galveston Bay Area Master Naturalists, Keep Bolivar Beautiful, the American Bird Conservancy, the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, and others) has launched the Plastic Free Houston Facebook group for folks and organizations to stay connected and share tips. Read a blog post by Berri Moffett, Conservation Specialist with Houston Audubon, about the importance of Plastic Free July here.

Houston Audubon will host a Plastic/Trash Cleanup Volunteer Work Day at the  Edith L Moore Nature Sanctuary on July 23 from 9 a.m.-noon. Learn more and register at houstonaudubon.org.

The Galveston Bay Foundation also will host a family-friendly outreach or cleanup activity during Plastic Free July. Stay tuned to their events listing or more information. In the meantime, check out the Galveston Bay Report Card What You Can Do tool to learn how you can go plastic-free at home, while traveling, when eating out and more.

Houston Zoo is marking Plastic Free July with a sea turtle release. Tune in to Facebook Live on Thursday, July 7 at 11 a.m. to see the Zoo’s wildlife-saving efforts in action and learn how you can help save them in the wild. 

You are invited to consider joining either the Plastic Free EcoChallenge Lutherans Restoring Creation – Gulf Coast team or the Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston team. Contact Lisa Brenskelle, team captain, at gcs.lrc@gmail.com.

Have tips on other Plastic Free July events? Please send them to news@cechouston.org so that we can pass them along!

Top image: Houston Audubon


CEC NOTES

Summer of Action 2022

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

  • Jul 13 – Introduction to Climate Action
  • Jul 20 – Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Justice40 Deep-dive
  • Jul 27 – Legislative Advocacy 101
  • Sep 10 – Houston Community Climate Summit at Rice University

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


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 15, 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


Informational Meeting, Public Hearing for CDBG Regional Mitigation Funds Method of Distribution

Houston-Galveston Area Council staff will hold an informational meeting to discuss a conditionally approved preliminary Method of Distribution (MOD) for $488,762,000 in U.S. Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Mitigation funds to provide funds to counties and local jurisdictions for risk mitigation projects related to flooding, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. The meeting will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14. During the meeting, H-GAC staff will provide an overview of the conditionally approved preliminary MOD, including information about data used in its development, and will answer questions. The meeting is online, and registration is required.

H-GAC staff will take oral and written public comments during a public hearing from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 21. The hearing will be at H-GAC, second floor conference rooms, and on Zoom. Registration is requested to attend in person and required to attend online. As it is a public hearing, H-GAC staff is not permitted to respond to any questions or comments during this meeting.


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.


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.


Continue reading

Houston Environmental News Update June 29, 2022

CEC Summer Interns, Brews for Birds, Environmental Justice Tool launch, Moth Night, Green Jobs, and more

Dear Friends,

It’s summertime, and here at CEC, that means we have a new crop of Summer Interns! You may know not know that we rely on our Interns to do much of the work of our small organization, and we’re awfully proud of what they accomplish – particularly during this Summer of Action! We’d like to introduce you to this summer’s cohort.

Angie Torres, one of our new Membership Engagement Interns, focused on helping CEC to revitalize membership and coordinate the annual Greater Houston Environmental Summit. Angie is a master’s student in Rice University’s Social Policy Evaluation program. She holds an undergraduate degree in Integrative Biology, and her nonprofit work background includes organizing, campaign strategy, and policy research. Learn more about Angie here.

Jessalin Nguyen, another Membership Engagement Intern, is a second-year student studying Environmental Science at the University of Chicago. Next year, she will be reviving the Animal Welfare Society at her university. She wants to pursue avenues to improve the relationship between humans and the environment. Learn more about Jessalin here.

Ava Trachtenberg is a senior at Emery High School in Houston. She has been involved with climate activism in several capacities—founding and leading a Climate Action Club at her school, serving on the national leadership board of the Jewish Youth Climate Movement, being an active member of Houston Youth Climate Strike, and participating in the Youth Implementation Group for the City of Houston’s Climate Action Plan. Learn more about Ava here.

Chandler Jones 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. Learn more about Chandler here.


CEC NOTES

Summer of Action 2022

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

  • Jul 13 – Introduction to Climate Action
  • Jul 20 – Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Justice40 Deep-dive
  • Jul 27 – Legislative Advocacy 101
  • Sep 10 – Houston Community Climate Summit at Rice University

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


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


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, 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.


Continue reading