Public lecture by Mathias Kondolf, Nov. 21, 2014: Buffalo Bayou and the national river restoration controversy

November 7, 2014

What: Public lecture by Mathias Kondolf, world renowned river expert

When: Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: St. Theresa Memorial Park Catholic Church, Assembly Hall, 6622 Haskell

World-Renowned River Scientist to Speak in Houston on the State of Buffalo Bayou and the Controversial $6 Million Project to Dredge and Channelize Wild Bayou in Memorial Park

Public invited to hear Mathias Kondolf of Berkeley, leading voice in national debate over river restoration industry, on Friday, Nov. 21, at 6:30 p.m.

Houston, TX, Nov. 8, 2014—Mathias Kondolf of Berkeley, one of the world’s foremost river scientists and a leading critic of the destructive and often-failing methods proposed for the controversial $6 million project to dredge and channelize one of the last natural stretches of Buffalo Bayou in Houston, will give a public lecture in Houston on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014.

Dr. Kondolf will speak about the natural process and dynamics of river systems, the importance of riparian zones, and the state of Buffalo Bayou in particular. He will address the prospect of failure and the lack of science underlying the experimental techniques proposed by the Harris County Flood Control District for the bayou project and place the controversy in the context of the ongoing national debate about river restoration and so-called Natural Channel Design.

The public presentation will be at St. Theresa Memorial Park Catholic Church, 6622 Haskell, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. All are invited. There will be an open question-and-answer period.

Mathias Kondolf

Mathias Kondolf

Dr. Kondolf will make a site visit to the 18,000-year-old bayou Friday morning, Nov. 21, traveling by water through the project area as it passes between Memorial Park and the Hogg Bird Sanctuary on the north and the River Oaks Country Club on the south. He will afterwards be available to reporters for a brief explanatory float-trip through the nearly 1.5 mile project area, which generally takes 30 minutes to an hour.

The Harris County Flood Control District has applied for a federal permit to destroy riparian forest and wetlands, dredge and fill approximately 80 percent of a nearly 1.5 mile stretch of Buffalo Bayou in an area relatively undisturbed for nearly a century. The Army Corps of Engineers is considering whether to issue a permit for the project, known as the Memorial Park Demonstration Project.

This little-known historic natural area in the middle of Houston includes high cliffs thousands of years old, 750,000-year-old sandstone formations, natural springs, sandy beaches, and overhanging trees. It is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Riverside forests, known as riparian buffers or zones, are wetlands and a distinct type forest vital to erosion control and the health of our waters.

About Mathias Kondolf

G. Mathias (Matt) Kondolf is a fluvial geomorphologist and environmental planner, specializing in environmental river management and restoration. As a Professor of Environmental Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, he teaches courses in hydrology, river restoration, environmental science, and Mediterranean-climate landscapes, advises students in these subjects, and serves as Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning.

His current research concerns sediment management strategies in reservoirs and regulated rivers (with applications of these concepts in the Mekong River basin), federal flood policies and the ‘wise use of floodplains’ concept, process-based river restoration, and urban river management and restoration.  He served as Clarke Scholar at the Institute for Water Resources of the US Army Corps of Engineers in Washington, and on the Environmental Advisory Board to the Chief of the Corps. Professor Kondolf lectures and teaches shortcourses on river restoration in various countries.

Selected publications:

Kondolf, G.M. 2011. Setting Goals in River Restoration: When and Where Can the River ‘Heal Itself’? in Simon, A. et al (eds) Stream Restoration in Dynamic Fluvial Systems: Scientific Approaches, Analyses, and Tools. Geophysical Monograph Series Vol.194 pp 29-43. American Geophysical Union, Washington DC. DOI: 10.1029/2010GM001020.

Kondolf, G.M., S. Anderson, R. Lave, L. Pagano, A. Merelender, and E. Bernhardt. 2007. Two decades of river restoration in California: What can we learn? Restoration Ecology 15(3):516-523.

Kondolf, G.M. River restoration and meanders. 2006. Ecology and Society.
[online] URL:

Kondolf, G.M., and H. Piégay, eds. 2003. Tools in fluvial geomorphology. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 696 pp.


This lecture is sponsored by, a nonprofit association.


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