Just a Big Ole Alligator Gar

Seen in the Hogg Bird Sanctuary

Showing Off Buff Physique

Feb. 1, 2022

Bayou lover Katy E. was enjoying the sights and sounds in the woods of the Hogg Bird Sanctuary in Houston when she happened to look down at the remains of the tributary creek that once cut across what is now Westcott.

“At first I saw him head on and I thought it was an alligator,” she wrote in an email. 

First sight. Photo Katy, Jan. 2022

“This was what I first saw and I think you can see why I thought it might be an actual alligator,” she wrote of the above photo she bravely took.

A closer look. He/she/it seems interested. Photo by Katy

“This guy was just drifting around,” she wrote. “He was pretty big.”

But it turned out to be an alligator gar, another of the ancient creatures, including alligators, alligator snapping turtles, and beavers, that inhabit our living bayou. The ancestors of the alligator gar in Texas date back over 200 million years. They can grow more than eight feet long and live over 60 years.

Apparently the alligator gar was more interested in the trash collected in the inlet. Photo by Katy, Jan. 2022

A Problem Nobody Wants to Fix

While Costly Fixes Wash Away

Update on Bayou Park Repairs and Damaging Stormwater Outfalls

Feb. 1, 2022

Recently we told you about the many drainage pipes jutting out from the banks of Buffalo Bayou and other streams that block the flow during storms. These pipes, or outfalls, violate city, county, and federal regulations by pointing directly across the channel. They act like dams, cause stormwater to back up, flood, erode, and take out banks and expensive sidewalks, leading to costly and continuous repairs.

The City of Houston is in charge of the pipes that collect this stormwater that rains down on the city. The Harris County Flood Control District is in charge of the channels and streams, both natural and artificial, that receive this runoff and send it out to the San Jacinto River and Galveston Bay.

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Giant outfall pointing at north bank in Buffalo Bayou Park blew out concrete riprap and concrete block installed by Harris County Flood Control in 2020. Sidewalk threatened once again. Dirt and concrete left in middle of stream. Photo taken just downstream from the Waugh Bridge, Jan. 15, 2022

But there were still questions hanging when we published the “illegal” outfalls report a couple of weeks ago. In 2020 the flood control district spent nearly $10 million in federal funds scraping, bulldozing and “repairing” the healthy green banks in Houston’s popular Buffalo Bayou Park between Shepherd and Sabine. The project was meant to repair damage caused by Harvey in 2017, three years earlier. Of course, by the time the bulldozers were revved up and deployed to the banks for the “repairs,” the bayou had naturally repaired and replanted its banks with deep-rooted, stabilizing native plants. Destroying these plants removed the natural network protecting the bank, causing at least one big tree to fall (as others have following Flood Control’s previous “natural stable channel design” work in the park).

One of the hanging questions from our previous report: why didn’t Flood Control fix the many stormwater pipes in the park blasting away like cannons pointed at the opposite bank?

Same Answer: Not Our Pipes

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