Wetlands, Flood Tunnels, and Rewilding Urban Neighborhoods

Texas gulf wetlands face population, development challenges

With urbanization and sprawl ongoing concerns in Texas cities, the question of how to build in ecological resilience grows more pressing. Kevin Sloan, a landscape architect in Dallas and professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, has been a big proponent of “rewilding,” a practice of designing green space to attract wildlife and reframe cities.

What is rewilding and why is it important?

What I, along with others, have come to use this word to describe is a process for how to approach environmental design. Everyone understands that for centuries architects have tailored building designs for the occupants those buildings shelter. If you’re building a house, there are private spaces, public living rooms. But even though we’ve built great gardens, parks, and exterior environments, we’ve never really asked what kinds of fauna these environments shelter. Of course when we design a park and plant trees, we know that birds will nest in those trees. But we’ve never made it anything deliberate.

We’re coming to realize that any exterior environment can be rewilded for a program of fauna that might include migratory pollinators, butterflies, honeybees, birds, maybe some small amphibians, and that the plant selections and design strategies account for – in a very deliberate way – the accommodation of those species.

Whether it’s a traffic island going into your motor-bank or an urban park or the Trinity River floodway corridor [in Dallas], you just ask the question: What could this area that I am about to affect reasonably accommodate for animals? And then design with that in mind.

Read the rest of this article.

Construction to Begin on Stormwater Basins in Forest of Buffalo Bayou

Flood Control Sends Notice to Residents Adjacent to Terry Hershey Park


Jan. 29, 2019

The Harris County Flood Control District has notified residents living on upper Buffalo Bayou in west Houston that construction of controversial stormwater detention basins on the forested south bank will begin soon.

The district sent an email, including a flyer about the project, to neighborhood leaders last Thursday, Jan. 24, asking them to spread the word that construction would begin in late January on three initial basins between Eldridge Parkway and Dairy-Ashford Road. The shallow linear detention basins require the clearing of trees and vegetation near the bank of the bayou. They would capture and temporarily hold about 100-acre feet of overflow from the bayou during a storm.

The district says in the flyer that it will attempt to preserve some trees and vegetation between the basins and neighboring property as well as along the water’s edge.

Looking downstream on the straightened channel of Buffalo Bayou in Terry Hershey Park in west Houston. Photo June 9, 2018

The district owns some 500 acres of land along the bayou for a little over six miles below Barker and Addicks dams. The bayou there was stripped and straightened by the Corps of Engineers in the late Forties. An analysis by Save Buffalo Bayou showed that straightening and narrowing the bayou there actually reduced its capacity, making future residents more vulnerable to flooding. At the time, the land—other than the natural riparian forest along the banks of the meandering bayou—was mostly agricultural.

Trees grew back, and the flood control district purchased the land from the Corps in the Sixties, leased it in the Nineties to Harris County for a public park named after environmentalist Terry Hershey, and began stripping trees again on the north bank for linear detention basins similar to those planned on the south bank. In the meantime, trails through the south bank woods became popular with hikers and bikers, and by 2012 local residents had formed a committee called Save Our Forest to fight plans to remove forest and excavate detention basins there.

Save Our Forest was largely successful until Harvey, after which the district revived its plans for a series of linear basins temporarily holding some 280 acre-feet of bayou overflow on the south bank between Highway 6 and Beltway 8.

Let the Bayou Expand Itself

In line with modern practice, Save Buffalo Bayou is in favor of slowing and holding stormwater before it floods a stream, not after. A better, more effective, less expensive approach would be to allow the bayou to restore its natural meanders, naturally lengthening and increasing the capacity of the stream, which is what it will keep trying to do anyway, eating away at the banks long ago weakened by artificial straightening as well as by ongoing digging and compressing by heavy equipment. Instead the county and the district spend millions repairing the unstable channel in order to keep it straight.

The district has already spent millions on the south bank linear detention basin project, including paying engineering firms for vegetation surveys and design. Lecon, Inc. has the $1.8 million contract to construct the initial basins scheduled to begin any day now.

Planned detention basins in Terry Hershey Park on south bank of Buffalo Bayou. This plan is to compensate for MORE stormwater that the City plans to drain eventually into the bayou. Image courtesy HCFCD







Looking Back on 2018

Some Things That Did and Did Not Happen


January 15, 2019

The year 2018 was a year of adjustment and recovery for a city wounded physically and psychologically by the long-lasting impact of Hurricane Harvey in mid-2017.

Prior to Harvey, Save Buffalo Bayou and its supporters were able to stop a pointless, wasteful, and costly bayou “restoration” project that would have destroyed much of our public forest, a historic nature area, on Buffalo Bayou in Memorial Park, damaging and weakening the ancient high banks and the bayou’s ability to recuperate after floods. In fact, the project, if it had been completed, would likely have washed away during Harvey, as did many other “erosion control” and landscaping projects on the bayou. (See this nine-minute film shot over a year later, referenced below.)

But outdated flood management policy and practice remained in place. The rest of the world is adopting enlightened, practical, and cost-effective ideas like slowing the flow of stormwater (rather than speeding it up), getting out of the way of flooding, and managing flooding in place—practices based on understanding and mimicking nature. But misguided assumptions about streams and drainage—based on faith in heavy engineering and concrete—continue to circulate locally.

SBB spent the year following Harvey trying to explain science-based flood and stream management to distraught homeowners and panicked politicians: how rivers work, why they flood, and why straightening, deepening, and widening the entire length of the bayou (and the rest of our streams) would not work and would not help, and in fact would only make things worse.

That important discussion continues.


Shocker! Save Buffalo Bayou finds itself defending the Army Corps of Engineers which announces a project, called the Metropolitan Houston Regional Watershed Assessment, to study the big picture of drainage and flooding in the Houston region: where raindrops fall, how they move across rooftops and pavement and land, through drain pipes and into our bayous and streams, and ultimately into Galveston Bay. We need to be talking about this.

At the same time Save Buffalo Bayou continues its defense of forests on the bayou, opposing questionable Harris County Flood Control District plans to rip out trees in Terry Hershey Park to create a series of detention basins along the channel for holding a small amount of overflow from the bayou in exchange for allowing the City to send more water into the bayou.

Result: So far the detention basins have not happened, though they are still a threat. (See below.) But for now we still have soothing trees to hug and thank for deflecting, slowing, and absorbing the rain and for holding the bayou banks together, among other vital functions. SBB is in favor of detention. Slow the flow! But it makes no sense to cut down trees to create detention, since trees serve as natural detention devices.

And in case you missed it, here is geologist and Save Buffalo Bayou board member Tom Helm  explaining the origin of sand and the different kinds of sandstone in Buffalo Bayou. Because in January 2018 there was still a huge amount of sediment piled up the banks of the bayou downstream, and we were trying to explain to people where it comes from, why the banks slide away, and what can and cannot be done about that. (Hint: leaving some large woody debris, i.e. fallen trees, against the banks helps.)

Geologist Tom Helm explains sandstone and sediment in Buffalo Bayou. 1.21.18


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Details of Memorial Park PGA Golf Agreement: Unanswered Questions. Who Benefits. Lack of Public Involvement.

An Open Letter to Houston City Council


Jan. 8, 2019

Dear Members of Houston City Council,

Regarding the agreement to transform the Memorial Park golf course into a PGA Tour golf course and hold an annual tournament there, I remain concerned about the financial benefit to the people of Houston and the lack of public involvement in this decision.

Houston is severely lacking in public park and green space. According to a 2018 report from the Trust for Public land, spending on public parks in Houston is about half the national median expenditure per resident. Houston ranks 77 out of the 100 largest cities in the country for park access and amenities, receiving an overall park score of 37.5 out of 100.

These figures are no doubt well known to you. But it’s not just a matter of park equity for Houstonians. Our city has been suffering from severe flooding and likely will experience increased flooding. Trees, vegetation, green space are vital for slowing and absorbing the rainfall and runoff that rapidly overwhelms our drainage system, including our streams and reservoirs. Not to mention the role of trees and green space in absorbing carbon dioxide.

A $1 million donation to the city parks department, as proposed by Council Member Laster, is an improvement to the proposed agreement. But what percentage of the tournament revenue is that? How much profit will the Astros Golf Foundation and the PGA Tour be making from this tournament in our great public park? We don’t know. Maybe it’s a generous donation. Maybe not. The PGA Tour, as noted previously, reports revenues of over $1 billion annually. Yes, both organizations give money to charities of their choosing (and making). But if it’s our public park being used to make money, why shouldn’t we get to choose? Shouldn’t more of the revenue be directed towards our public parks generally? The parks department and our city council representatives should decide where the money should go – and more money should go towards more green space.

We have been told very little about the financial details of this agreement because there have been virtually no public meetings about it. I have previously complained that this change in use of public parkland requires public notice and a public hearing under state law, specifically Ch. 26 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code. This complaint has been ignored.

Will local people be hired to do the work building the stands, running the event, etc.? Or will the PGA Tour bring in its own people from outside the area?

No one has asked the people of Houston whether they want this golf tournament in our lovely forested park on Buffalo Bayou. Maybe they do. We don’t know.

The proponents claim that the city overall will see a $50-90 million benefit from the economic impact of the week-long tournament annually. Dr. John Crompton, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M, did a study of the Phoenix Open some years ago. In a recent email, he said that his estimates showed “total expenditures from external visitors amounted to $29.5 million with an economic impact on incomes in the local economy of $22.4 million (this is the appropriate measure of economic impact).”

I urge you, please, to ask more questions at your council meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 9.

Thank you.

Susan Chadwick

President and Executive Director

Save Buffalo Bayou



Environmentalists Respond to Draft Coastal Protection Plan

Corps of Engineers Holding Public Meetings and Soliciting Comments


Dec. 13, 2018

[Updated Dec. 31, 2018, with the comment from the Houston Sierra Club.]

[Update Jan. 7, 2019: The Corps of Engineers has extended the comment period until Feb. 8, 2019.]

Climate change is causing the seas to rise and storms to become stronger, more frequent, and more destructive. In order to protect the industry and people of the Texas coast, the State of Texas General Land Office, together with the Galveston District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, is preparing a Texas Coastal Protection Plan.

The $20 million planning process began in 2015 and is expected to be completed by 2021. Upon completion a plan will be presented to Congress for authorization and funding, expected to be in the billions of dollars.

A significant part of the plan, which incorporates both large-scale engineered infrastructure and ecosystem restoration, focuses on the potential for a big storm to send a surge of seawater through Galveston Bay and up Buffalo Bayou into the Port of Houston, inundating the chemical plants and refineries and neighborhoods there along with downtown Houston, as well as houses, businesses, and highways on the coast.

In October the Corps released a draft feasibility study for the plan along with an environmental impact statement for the draft study. Since then they have been holding public meetings about it up and down the coast. The next meeting is Saturday, Dec. 15, in Crystal Beach at Crenshaw Elementary and Middle School, 416 State Highway 87, from 1 to 4 p.m. The next and final meeting is Tuesday, Dec. 18, in Seabrook, at the Bay Area Community Center, 5002 E. Nasa Parkway. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m.

You can read the documents and find out more about the process and the public meetings here.

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, a group of regional and national environmental and conservation organizations, including Save Buffalo Bayou, released their response to the draft study and associated environmental impact statement.

One of the primary concerns was that “the information provided in the Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement is insufficient to enable thorough and informed comments.”

The advocacy group response noted that there was no clear indication of where the various structures will be placed and few details on the overall impacts.

The organizations, led by Bayou City Waterkeeper, reiterated their preference for “non-structural solutions such as preservation and enhancement of prairies, riparian areas, barrier islands, and wetlands; buyouts/strategic withdrawal from areas that cannot be adequately protected, and appropriate land-use regulation to implement those concepts.”

They called for greater private sector responsibility for protecting private industry and keeping people out of harm’s way and for regulations preventing development in floodways and floodplains.

They also called for the preservation and restoration of riparian areas, green space, and barrier islands to increase stormwater storage capacity and reduce damage from flooding. “Our bayous, given sufficient floodplain, are our natural storm drains and detention systems. Preserving these areas also provides the important secondary benefit of recreational green space.”

Structural approaches, such as building dams, dikes, and levees, work against nature, encourage development in flood-prone areas, and should only be used where non-structural or nature-based methods are not feasible, they said.

You can read the full statement from the conservation groups here. Read the comment from the Houston Sierra Club here.

More information is available about the coastal protection plan and process through this notice in the Federal Register.

Comments on the draft plan must be postmarked by February 8, 2019. You may submit comments by email to CoastalTexas@usace.army.mil or by mailing to this address:

USACE, Galveston District
Attention:  Ms. Jennifer Morgan
Environmental Compliance Branch, RPEC
Post Office Box 1229
Galveston, Texas  77553-1229

Port of Houston, Buffalo Bayou Ship Channel, looking downstream towards the San Jacinto Monument. Photo by Jim Olive

Giant Turtles and Other Bayou Creatures

Not So Secret Alligator Snapping Turtles


Dec. 12, 2018

So recently the Chronicle blew the secret that there are giant alligator snapping turtles in Buffalo Bayou.

But apparently it wasn’t much of a secret. Turns out that lots of people already knew about alligator snappers in the bayou and elsewhere. We posted the article on our Facebook page, and we were bombarded with stories and photos of close encounters with the big snappers over the years—as near as back yard ravines.

Last year volunteers with Save Buffalo Bayou participated in this long-term project sponsored by the Turtle Survival Alliance to tag and track the massive turtles, the operation described by the Chronicle’s Molly Glentzer. The turtles, the largest freshwater turtles in the world, are designated a threatened species by the State of Texas, which means it is against the law to capture, trap, take, or kill them, or even think about doing that. They happen to be an ingredient in classic New Orleans-style turtle soup and therefore subject to poaching, which continues in the state, even though these days alligator snappers for cooking are farm-raised. We were asked to keep quiet about the turtles until the turtle scientists had a better idea of how they were doing here. Apparently they are doing pretty well.

Read the rest of this post.

Alligator snapping turtle trapped for research on Buffalo Bayou. Note pink tongue used to attract prey into jaws. Photo by Jim Olive, February 10, 2017

Why Donate to Save Buffalo Bayou?

Small But Effective. Smart. Dedicated. We Educate. We All Win.


Nov. 27, 2018

Explaining How Streams Work to Anxious People

A lot of people flooded on Buffalo Bayou. They are hurting. The impulse is to want to strip, dredge, deepen, straighten and widen our bayous. We are doing our best to explain why this doesn’t work and what will work instead. We continue to fight for sensible, cost-effective nature-based solutions to flooding across the region. It’s what the rest of the world is doing.

Modernizing Maintenance and Flood Management Practices

In the past year our nonprofit has helped improve outdated woody debris removal practices in our bayous. The modern way is to leave some large fallen trees against the banks for sediment control and protection against erosion and flooding. Contractors with Harris County Flood Control were taking all the trees, even cutting down live trees. As a result of our report, a subcontractor was removed.

Not Flooding Your Neighbor: Explaining Legal Rights and Responsibilities on the Bayou

The laws governing what a property owner can and can’t do on our public streams can be confusing. We published an in-depth report explaining all that. Big reveal: the property line is not where you think. We also describe why the bayou banks collapse, how they naturally rebuild, and offer insight into Best Management Practices on the bayou.

Helpful Links and Information

We provide the best collection of recommended books and articles on nature, rivers, and flooding, as well as useful links to flood gauges, floodplain maps, rainfall data, and more. And don’t overlook our Calendar of Events.

Nature: Not Just A Pretty Face

Environmentalism is based on science, not sentiment. We are constantly explaining why it is practical and necessary to understand how nature works, especially in regard to drainage and flooding. But we do love the river, the trees, and the beavers and birds. We regularly post photos and videos of our Buffalo Bayou that most people don’t get a chance to see.

And don’t forget our geology classes on the bayou led by Save Buffalo Bayou board member and consulting geologist Tom Helm. Tom is currently featured in a four-part series on Buffalo Bayou reported by KHOU’s Channel 11’s Brandi Smith.

A Broad Reach

The posts and photos on our website and Facebook Page reach thousands of people. We have more than 7,700 followers on Facebook as well as a mailing list of over a thousand politicians and civic leaders, agency officials, media representatives, and interested people pro and con. We also publish editorials in newspapers—daring to say what is controversial—and have been frequently featured in news reports.

The Future: Stopping Stormwater Before It Floods Our Streams and Neighborhoods

We all have a lot of work to do to save our city from increasing storms and flooding. Help us remain an important part of the conversation about the best way to do that. Flooding begins on the land. Imagine how beautiful and livable Houston could be with more parks, trees, gardens, and green space to help slow and absorb rain runoff.


Save Buffalo Bayou is a 501c3 nonprofit. Donations are tax-deductible.

If you don’t want to use PayPal, you can send checks to Save Buffalo Bayou, 3614 Montrose #706, Houston 77006.

Donate today. And tomorrow.

Thank you.

Looking upstream on Buffalo Bayou near the eastern edge of Memorial Park. Park on the right, River Oaks Country Club property on the left. May 28, 2018

Commissioners Court Oks Study for Bypasses on Buffalo Bayou Meanders

$350,000 Contract Includes Study of Bridges

Nov. 21, 2018

Harris County Commissioners’ Court has approved a $350,000 contract to study a controversial proposal for installing large concrete culverts through meanders on Buffalo Bayou.

The contract was awarded at a commissioners’ court meeting Nov. 13 to Texas-based engineering firm Huitt-Zollars. It also calls for studying the “hydraulic performance of bridge crossings” on the bayou as well as the “high-flow bypasses” of meanders.

The contract focuses on 33 bridges and 4 pipeline crossings on Buffalo Bayou between Highway 6 in far west Houston and Congress Street downtown. It identifies 13 potential meander bypass locations between Beltway 8 and Shepherd Drive. (pp. 11 and 12)

The meander bypass plan is based on a misunderstanding of the causes of flooding upstream and the beneficial function of meanders in streams. The idea was proposed by neighborhood activists living above Beltway 8 who blame the meanders of the bayou below the beltway for exacerbating flooding of their homes in low-lying floodplains adjacent to a six-mile-long stretch of the bayou that was straightened in the Fifties. That stretch of the bayou is now Terry Hershey Park, owned by the Harris County Flood Control District.

Meanders Not the Cause of Flooding Upstream

A study commissioned by Save Buffalo Bayou found that the bypass plan is likely unfeasible and could increase flooding and erosion of property downstream.  Save Buffalo Bayou is opposed to meander bypasses, which would be highly damaging, counterproductive, and a waste of public funds.

“Preserving old stands of trees, natural swales, wetlands, oxbows, vegetated riparian areas, and meanders; building small weirs, sediment structures, wet gardens, and setback levees; lengthening streams, and accepting large woody debris in the channel are useful techniques. Using these practices to work with the natural motion of the river is more effective – and less expensive – in reducing flood damage and helping us realize benefits from the water.”

Floodplain Management: A New Approach for a New Era, p. 137


Meandering Buffalo Bayou. Looking upstream from a high bank in Memorial Park. Photo Nov. 6, 2018, by SC








Buffalo Bayou Update With Egrets, Hawks, and a Beaver

Floating Down the Bayou Into the Rising Sun


Nov. 20, 2018

It was just after sunrise on a beautiful fall day. Save Buffalo Bayou advisory board member Janice Van Dyke Walden had suggested a paddle down the bayou. We slid her wooden canoe into the water at the Woodway boat launch in Memorial Park and cast ourselves into the current.

The water was high and the flow fairly fast, about 700 cubic feet per second, strong enough to keep us moving without doing much except dip our paddles in occasionally. Janice did most of that.

The opaque brown water was roiling, disturbed by mysterious conflicts below. The fin and scaly back of a huge creature suddenly broke the surface—an alligator gar, one of the largest freshwater fishes in North America, and maybe one of the oldest, having been around for over a hundred million years.

Our route passed by the Houston Arboretum, Memorial Park, and the Hogg Bird Sanctuary. On the right bank there were private residences and the long edge of the golf course belonging to the River Oaks Country Club. We floated all the way past Shepherd (Buffalo Bayou is tidal to about 440 yards upstream of the Shepherd Bridge) into Buffalo Bayou Park, passing by numerous new and failed private erosion control projects. The best erosion control is not to landscape, water, or disturb the ground above or on the bank, to leave the trees and vegetation in place, leave fallen trees against the bank as protection against the flow and reinforcement of the bank, and let slumped material and vegetation naturally regrow. The bayou will take care of itself. And it will also seek out its historic path, which is one reason why they are having so much trouble with collapsing banks in Buffalo Bayou Park downstream, stripped and straightened in the Fifties and recently altered by Harris County Flood Control. (See also this slideshow of the historic meanders in Buffalo Bayou Park by geologist Tom Helm.)

We were pleased to see that some large trees had been left parallel to the bank with their roots towards the current. This is the science-based practice that floodplain managers recommend. We were critical of contractors hired by the Harris County Flood Control District to remove debris in the channel after Harvey. Paid by the pound, they were cutting down live trees and pulling up all the large wood. Large woody debris on the banks is essential for collecting and controlling sediment, protecting against erosion, and rebuilding the banks after floods.

Harvey made big changes in the bayou. Among other things, a small stream that drains the eastern edge of Memorial Park had shifted and cut through the sandy bank of what we call the middle meander. Further downstream another small tributary flowing through the Hogg Bird Sanctuary had likewise shifted slightly upstream and now cuts through a narrow spit of land that was clearly going to go some day. The former mouth of the stream below a high bluff in the public park had been blocked with sediment.

Watch this nine-minute video of our early morning float down Buffalo Bayou.

Or watch this slideshow of photographs from the trip.


  • Mist rising with the morning sun on Buffalo Bayou downstream from Woodway in Houston. The old archery range of Memorial Park on the left. Photo Oct. 27, 2018, by SC
  • Riprap and grass above a sheet pile wall recently installed by private developers on the south bank of Buffalo Bayou in Uptown.
  • Looking downstream on Buffalo Bayou.
  • Trees shade the flowing water and help protect the bank from erosion.
  • A great egret rests in a tree on the north bank as the moon sets and the sun rises.
  • Memorial Park on the left.
  • Fallen utility lines on the right (south) bank.
  • Riprap placed by the River Oaks Country Club on a slumped bank in 2015. Riprap can cause more erosion upstream and downstream, and in this case has damaged public parkland across the way. Bank had been stripped of trees and planted with short, mowed grass, and a concrete path for golf carts installed.
  • A beautiful sycamore stands tall on a bend in the bayou. High banks of Memorial Park on the left.
  • Collapsing bank on country club property that had been stripped of protective trees and planted with short, mowed grass.
  • Concrete parking lot debris dumped on south bank below country club property.
  • The high bluffs and sandy bank at the eastern edge of Memorial Park.
  • Floating out of the stream that now cuts through what was the wide sandy bank of what we call the middle meander. The stream empties into Buffalo Bayou in the distance.
  • Leaving Memorial Park, continuing downstream with private residences on the left, country club on the right.
  • Another beautiful sycamore, this one on a point that is part of the city-owned Hogg Bird Sanctuary.
  • The high bank of the Hogg Bird Sanctuary. The small creek that emptied here has changed course, moving further upstream.
  • Concrete construction debris dumped below private property on the north bank.
  • Massive private erosion control project recently installed on south bank with sheet piling driven deep into the channel.
  • Dumped debris and failed concrete erosion wall on south bank.
  • More failed attempts at erosion control on the south bank.
  • Continuously collapsing sidewalk in Buffalo Bayou Park has been repaired numerous times.
  • Collapsed bank and boat takeout below the Dunlavy in Buffalo Bayou Park.







KHOU Series on Hidden Buffalo Bayou Featuring Tom Helm

Discover Scenic Secrets of Buffalo Bayou with Reporter Brandi Smith and Geologist Tom Helm

Nov. 17, 2018

(Updated Nov. 21 with link to Part 2 , Nov. 27 with link to Part 3, and Dec. 4 with link to Part 4)

KHOU television (Channel 11) is airing a four-part series on the hidden wilderness of Buffalo Bayou in Houston. Thank you, KHOU. Titled “Brandi on the Bayou: Buffalo Bayou’s Hidden Wilderness,” the series is reported by KHOU’s Brandi Smith and airs Tuesday mornings at 6 a.m.

The first episode was broadcast Tuesday, Nov. 13, and featured geologist, river guide, naturalist, and Save Buffalo Bayou board member Tom Helm.

You can watch that first episode here  and the second episode here. The next episode airs Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 6 a.m. and the final episode on Dec. 4. All the episodes will be available online.

Tom Helm talking beavers and geology in “Brandi on the Bayou: Buffalo Bayou’s Hidden Wilderness,” airing Tuesdays at 6 a.m. on KHOU Channel 11 through Dec. 4.

But you don’t have to be a television reporter to float down Buffalo Bayou learning from Tom Helm.

Helm offers geology classes on the bayou. Find out more about the ancient history of this 18,000-year-old bayou, where it comes from, where it’s going, and why understanding the natural function of a dynamic river is important for effective flood risk reduction. Houston has rocks, and they are hundreds of thousands of years old!

In addition Helm offers a Happy Hour Bat Trip with refreshments on Buffalo Bayou in Buffalo Bayou Park.

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