While We Wait

The Flood Control District’s Failing “Natural Channel Design” Projects

Well, the comments are in to the Army Corps of Engineers. The comment period that ended June 5 was not extended. So now we wait to find out what the Corps will do next about a permit for the Harris County Flood Control District’s controversial $6 million Memorial Park Demonstration Project. The flood control district wants to destroy one of the last natural stretches of Buffalo Bayou as it flows past Memorial Park in the middle of the city so that engineers can “build it better,” thus demonstrating exactly the wrong thing to do for erosion control and bank stabilization on the bayou.

It’s the wrong thing to do because the specially adapted trees and plants on the bayou (known as the riparian zone) protect the land from erosion, slow storm water and runoff, filter pollution and bacteria (and trash) from the water, provide shade and habitat, among many other vital functions. Razing the riparian buffer, as this project would do, digging up and running heavy equipment over the banks and bayou bottom are all contrary to Best Management Practices and the policies of virtually every federal and state agency charged with protecting the health of our waters, our wildlife habitat, and our soil.

What Are the Options?

So what are the Corps’ options?

Read the rest of this story to find out and learn about the flood control district’s previous failing “natural channel design” projects.

 

Cottonwood downed on south bank west of Waugh by undercutting of banks in Buffalo Bayou Park "restored" by the Harris County Flood Control District. Several more mature trees have been lost since this photo was taken Jan. 26, 2015, by Jim Olive.

Cottonwood downed on south bank west of Waugh by undercutting of banks in Buffalo Bayou Park “restored” by the Harris County Flood Control District. Several more mature trees have been lost since this photo was taken Jan. 26, 2015, by Jim Olive.

Flood Control Project Would Destroy Vital Wildlife Habitat

Buffalo Bayou protects diverse wildlife and acts as corridor

Predators help control control diseases by consuming rodent and insect pests

Mosquitoes more dangerous than coyotes

 

Yellow-crowned Night Heron by Frank X. Tolbert 2.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron by Frank X. Tolbert 2.

The Houston Chronicle recently published an informative article about wildlife in the city. It has special relevance to Buffalo Bayou at a time when the Harris County Flood Control District, supported by the City of Houston, the Bayou Preservation Association, the Memorial Park Conservancy, and the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, is planning to destroy nearly 1.5 miles of one of the last natural stretches of Buffalo Bayou as it flows past Memorial Park and the Hogg Bird Sanctuary.

Wild animals in the city: It’s time to stop being surprised

Gray Matters, the Houston Chronicle, July 1, 2015

Several times this spring, coyotes made national headlines when spotted roaming the streets of New York, from Manhattan to Queens.

In recent years, a host of charismatic wild species, the coyote being only the most famous, have returned to American cities in numbers not seen for generations. Yet the official response in many areas has been, at best, disorganized, and people’s responses varied. The time has come for us to accept that these animals are here to stay, and to develop a new approach to urban wildlife.

Most big American cities occupy sites that were once rich ecosystems. Large parts of Houston, Chicago, and New Orleans rest atop former wetlands. New York and Boston overlook dynamic river mouths. San Francisco and Seattle border vast estuaries, and even Las Vegas sprawls across a rare desert valley with reliable sources of life-giving fresh water, supplied by artesian aquifers the nearby Spring Mountains. All of these places once attracted diverse and abundant wildlife.

Read the rest of the story in the Houston Chronicle.