The Memorial Park Master Plan and the Survival of Buffalo Bayou

Nobody wanted to mention the strange plan to bulldoze our wild Buffalo Bayou in Memorial Park and they wouldn’t let us put out our flyers at the Memorial Park Conservancy meeting in the El Dorado Ballroom on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, to introduce the beginnings of a new master plan for the park. The previous master plan in 2004 recommended that this last remaining stretch of wild bayou be left alone as a valuable educational tool about nature and its dynamic process. The conservancy, a private, non-profit organization charged with protecting and preserving the 1500-acre park, has decided to ignore that recommendation and supports razing the riparian forest, dredging, channelizing, rerouting, and destroying the ecosystem of this stable, functioning reach of the bayou. Because.

Well, few people understand what the purpose of this bizarre project is, and we have talked to some certified geniuses about it. Proponents call it erosion control, flood control, invasive species control, “restoration,” but none of it explains the massive amount of destruction planned or why they are using long-discredited channelizing methods that likely will result in more erosion, more flooding, and the whole artificially reconstructed bayou washing out, along with whatever native vegetation they plant there.

Read the rest.

Topographic map of Buffalo Bayou on the southern edge of Memorial Park, 2013.

Topographic map of Buffalo Bayou on the southern edge of Memorial Park, 2013.

Learning How Rivers Work and Why Bulldozing Wild Buffalo Bayou Won’t Work

If more city people understood how rivers work, they would know why our wild Buffalo Bayou should be left alone in and around Memorial Park and why the project to bulldoze it is pointless, wrong, and won’t work.

Interested in learning about the living process of a stream and the importance of riparian zones? Want to find out more about proper land use and management to protect riverfront property against erosion?

Save Buffalo Bayou is developing an educational program about urban riparian areas. But the basic principles are the same for streams in the city and in the country. For now you can learn from an expert at Texas A&M.

The Texas Riparian Association is holding a Riparian and Stream Ecosystem Workshop on September 24, 2014, from 8 am to 4 pm at Whites Park Community Center, 219 White Memorial Park Road in Hankamer near Anahuac, about an hour east of Houston.

Read the rest.

Riparian forest on Buffalo Bayou. Photo by Jim Olive.

Riparian forest on Buffalo Bayou. Photo by Jim Olive.

Memorial Park, the Master Plan, and Our Wild Buffalo Bayou

Proposals for a new master plan for Memorial Park will be presented at a public meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Eldorado Ballroom, 2310 Elgin Street. Anyone concerned about the future of our great Memorial Park and Buffalo Bayou as it  flows past the park will want to attend this meeting, one of four “update” meetings scheduled about the plan over the next several months.

The prominent national landscape architecture firm of Nelson Byrd Woltz is leading development of the plan. Thomas Woltz, principal of the firm, and his team will share results of their research and analysis, as well as initial design concepts at the Wednesday meeting co-hosted by Houston City Council Members Dwight Boykins and Robert Gallegos.

Do Nothing to Our Wild Bayou is the Best Policy

The last master plan for Memorial Park in 2004 recommended that nothing be done to disturb the natural environment of Buffalo Bayou. After extensive analysis by a team of fluvial geomorphologists and hydraulic engineers, the plan wisely concluded that “the recommended course of action for the Bayou is simply to leave it alone and consider it a symbol of dynamic natural process. The Bayou can serve as a valuable environmental education tool that depicts the change inherent in nature.”

It is not yet known, to us at least, what recommendations the new master plan will make about our treasured last stretch of wild bayou in Houston. However, contradicting the clear conclusions of the 2004 master plan, the Memorial Park Conservancy officially and actively supports the Bayou Preservation Association‘s bizarre project to bulldoze the bayou’s riparian forest, level and grade the banks and cliffs, dredge, channelize, and reroute the bayou. This would forever destroy a valuable and historic natural resource in our great public park, an amazing oasis of riverine wilderness in the middle of the city.

Read the rest.

1915 USGS topographic map of Buffalo Bayou in the area to be bulldozed by a project supported by the Memorial Park Conservancy and the Bayou Preservation Association.

1915 USGS topographic map of Buffalo Bayou in the area to be bulldozed by a project supported by the Memorial Park Conservancy and the Bayou Preservation Association.

Memorial Service for Don Greene, Defender of Buffalo Bayou, Sunday, September 14, 2014

 

A memorial service for Don Greene, defender of Buffalo Bayou and all rivers and streams, will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday,

Don Greene on Buffalo Bayou as it passes by the Arboretum.

Don Greene on Buffalo Bayou as it passes by the Arboretum.

September 14th, at the Houston Arboretum in Memorial Park.

The service will have two parts. Guests will gather inside the expanded classrooms and then move outside to Emmott Circle for quiet reflection. Each person will have an opportunity to share his or her thoughts and remembrances about Don, in no particular order.

A reception will follow back in the classrooms.

Don was a past president of the Bayou Preservation Association when the BPA’s mission was still preserving bayous. He was deeply opposed to the BPA’s plan to destroy the last natural stretch of Buffalo Bayou in the middle of the city.

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness?  Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

—Gerard Manley Hopkins