If we don’t destroy Buffalo Bayou now, it will “fall in on itself.”

June 12, 2014

Informative article by David Theis in the Texas Observer June 10 about the project to destroy Buffalo Bayou in order to “restore” it. Includes some wild claims by the executive director of the Memorial Park Conservancy that “the bayou is going to fall in on itself” if we don’t bulldoze it first. Yes, as difficult as it is to believe, not only does the Memorial Park Conservancy officially support this nonsensical plan to destroy the riparian forest in Memorial Park (even if all its members don’t), the organization even helped create it. It’s almost as if they think Memorial Park has too many trees or something.

Please note that the project length is 6,600 linear feet along the bayou, plus another 800 feet in a lovely tributary of the Hogg Bird Sanctuary, not 5,800 feet as reported in the article. (We know it’s hard to keep up: the Harris County Flood Control District keeps changing its plans.) However, the 18,000-year-old bayou will end up 800 feet shorter if the county and its odd allies have their way.

Also that magnificent high bluff in the bird sanctuary is not in any part a result of recent erosion, unless your time frame is several thousand years. The county plan would dig up most of that beautiful tributary you see from the top of the bluff and fill in our amazing high precipice somehow. Why? Because, erosion! Next project: the Grand Canyon.

Below is the county’s map of the riparian areas to be excavated and filled in. Yellow is “cut” and orange is “fill.”

Read the Texas Observer article.

And here is an earlier excellent article from the Texas Observer in 2002 questioning the interests of some of the movers and shakers behind the Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s development of Buffalo Bayou east of Shepherd. Some of those names are familiar. Like Mike Garver, a member of the board of the Bayou Preservation Association and a property owner on Crestwood Drive whose bayou frontage is being “restored” by the taxpayers in this project promoted by the BPA. Garver, former chairman of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, is CEO of BRH-Garver Construction, whose major clients include, oh, look, surprise, the Harris County Flood Control District, the Army Corps of Engineers, the City of Houston, and KBR, the engineering contractor for the project.

HCFCD cut fill 2013

Harris County’s 2013 map of where they plan to dig out Buffalo Bayou and fill it in. Yellow is excavate. Orange is fill in. On the south bank is the River Oaks Country Club golf course. On the north is Memorial Park, some private homes, and the Hogg Bird Sanctuary.



2 thoughts on “If we don’t destroy Buffalo Bayou now, it will “fall in on itself.””

  1. Seems like the Texas Observer articles present conflicting views as to the value and beauty that Buffalo Bayou holds within this community. The 2002 Texas Observer articles states,

    “To anyone who’s actually seen Buffalo Bayou, this might sound slightly ludicrous. Herons, mullet, and sighing breezes aside, the bayou is a narrow, pollution-saturated drainage ditch that slithers through downtown and into the Ship Channel almost unnoticed–that is, unless you catch a whiff of the sewage treatment plants that dot its banks.

    Sure, the bayou’s not without its mucky charm. But the Seine it’s not.” Interesting.

    The Texas Observer article from 2014 states,

    “With a few more steps you’re at the edge of a steep and unexpectedly tall cliff overlooking an oxbow bend in the bayou below, its graceful arc framed by trees. You’re standing in one of the most dramatic spots, natural or man-made, the city has to offer.”

    Did that graceful arc framed by trees occur over the twelve year period? If so, the trees must not be that old. Could it be an indicator as to how dynamic of a channel this portion of Buffalo Bayou is?

    The simple point is this. You can’t just simply pull snippets of old articles and public statements and spin them in a manner to suit your needs or beliefs and pretend the rest of the article had no meaning and did nothing to frame the context of the comment. You have to look at all points objectively and be willing to consider that sometimes, the necessary decision might not be the most popular one.

    1. Dear Captain Obvious,

      The 2002 article was referring to that part of Buffalo Bayou east of downtown which has been highly industrialized. The 2014 article is referring to some of the last remaining wild parts of Buffalo Bayou west of Shepherd. Here the bayou, which has indeed been abused and polluted and treated like a sewage ditch, flows past Memorial Park and the Hogg Bird Sanctuary on the north, and the River Oaks Country Club golf course on the south (named, of course, for the magnificent oaks in this riparian forest), and when at its natural low flow, you can see beautiful sandstone rock, bright red clay banks, the intricate roots of trees holding the banks together, animal tracks in the sand. Tall sycamore and boxelder shade the banks.

      We are trying to protect this lovely riparian forest from being destroyed, not just because it is lovely but also because it serves a vital function: protecting against erosion, slowing storm waters, filtering pollution and runoff, trapping sediment, and providing habitat for a great diversity of creatures, from the dragonflies that eat mosquitos to the coyotes that control the rat population. Few if any other major cities can boast of a wilderness area open to the public in their center. You can find a lot of information about the importance of riparian forest and other aspects of our distinctly southern bayou on this website. Please read! You can even watch videos of trips down the bayou through the area targeted for destruction.

      Spending $6 million to bulldoze a natural system that already does what the planned project claims as its purpose is folly.

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