Mission Statement

This lovely meander, a natural floodwater detention area, will be completely filled by the flood control district project, its sandy banks and high bluffs obliterated, and the bayou channel moved to the south (left). An access road for heavy equipment will be bulldozed through the public forest of Memorial Park on the right. Photo by Jim Olive on April 7, 2017

The Mission, The Permit, The Cost

Save Buffalo Bayou was founded in 2014 to prevent the Harris County Flood Control District or anyone else from bulldozing the forested banks of Buffalo Bayou in and around Memorial Park and the Hogg Bird Sanctuary in the middle of Houston. Currently they are planning to do that, with the support of the City of Houston, the Bayou Preservation Association, and the Memorial Park Conservancy. On April 19, 2017, nearly two years after the close of the second and final public comment period, despite several hundred critical comments opposing the project as well as a petition with more than 3,000 signatures, the Army Corps of Engineers granted the flood control district an exception to the federal Clean Water Act for the project. The initial $6 million cost has now doubled to at least $12 million. Taxpayers have already contributed $4 million and now will be asked to contribute much more. The River Oaks Country Club, which in the meantime has installed environmentally-damaging concrete riprap on its banks in two places, was to contribute $2 million. The club owns the entire south bank of the project, much of it riparian forest that until recent decades had been largely undisturbed since the club’s founding in 1923 among the oaks  for which it was named.

The Fight Continues

We must now intensify our efforts and prepare to go to court if necessary. We hope that doesn’t happen, and that instead our civic and political leaders belatedly recognize the value of this rare natural asset running through the middle of the city. Perhaps through the power of our logic and science-based arguments, and the voices of the people of Houston, we can persuade the authorities not to raze the forest and vegetation so vital for cleansing the water, not to drive heavy equipment through the woods and into the channel to dredge, excavate, fill, and reroute the meandering bayou, leveling its high banks, grading its sandy beaches, blocking its springs and tributaries. This shady stretch of the bayou, home to a wide variety of wildlife including beaver and otter and the threatened alligator snapping turtle, is some of our last, best publicly-accessible southern bayou in the city. It’s an outdoor classroom, one of the few places in the city where we can see the geology and natural history of Houston, witness the natural functioning of a living river, and contemplate the serenity of the forest.  Containing prehistoric sandstone and high Pleistocene bluffs hundreds of thousands of years old, this is a historic nature area and should be preserved for future generations. Destroying riparian forest buffer, a type of wetland, is a violation of current state and federal land management policy and laws regarding protection of waterways.

Expanding our Mission. Working With Nature, Not Against It

Our larger focus is to spread awareness and understanding of how rivers work and how they benefit us even in urban areas. We advocate for the protection and restoration of all our bayous and tributaries. Our general mission is to educate the public and our public officials about beneficial land management on our many streams, drawing on the best modern science and the most enlightened practice around the nation and the world. We aim to encourage government agencies to develop enlightened flood and erosion control and drainage policies and practices that respect the natural process of our local bayous and creeks, their floodplains and watersheds, the trees and vegetation growing on their banks that are so vital for the health of our waters, our environment, and us. We support natural or “green” solutions to flooding because they are more effective, cheaper, and better for our health and our environment. Rather than endlessly widening and deepening the channels of our vital waterways, we believe in slowing down, spreading out, and soaking up stormwater before it hits our streams. We also advocate for public access to our public streams and the protection of our forests and prairies.

Our ultimate goal is to have our bayous and tributaries running clean and clear all the way to Galveston Bay, shaded and protected by native vegetation, and to restore to a more natural state those that have been stripped .

2 thoughts on “Mission Statement”

  1. Don Jones says:

    I live on Buffalo Bayou between the Piney Point and San Felipe Bridges. The storm on the night of 5/25/15 raised the level of the bayou about as high as we have seen it in a long time. On 5/26/15 the water started to recede and by 5/29/15 the water level was back down to be close to the normal channel. I inspected our bank and there was no noticeable erosion which is normal for us after storm events. The next week I noticed the bayou was back up with a very strong current. On 6/6/15 I discovered a large area of bank erosion where we lost 3 large trees and 3 smaller ones that fell across the bayou. The property just upstream from us lost a tree from their bank that also fell. I learned that the Army Corp of Engineers, that regulate Addicks Dam had received permission to up their discharge from the dam from a normal maximum of 2,000 cu/ft/sec to 3,000 from 6/1 to 6/11/15. This is what caused my erosion, not the storm of 5/25/15. DID ANYONE ELSE SUFFER SIGNIFICANT EROSION ALONG BUFFALO BAYOU FROM 6/1 to 6/11/15?

    1. Thanks for the info, Don. You should also pose this question on our Facebook page if you can.

      After the storm the Corps was releasing 3,000 cfs for several days, which is possibly an unprecedented amount of flow over an unusually long period of time. We are still looking into that.

      You probably know that the Corps keeps Addicks and Barker dams at relatively low levels due to fear of failure. Repairs to the dams were scheduled to begin this month.

      We are looking into the program of dam releases also. We would like to see the dam releases modified to a more naturalistic regime. Here is where you can learn more about the dams, although the Corps does not seem to have updated this page with information about construction.

      http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/Missions/DamSafetyProgram.aspx

      Here is Harris County Flood Control District Director Mike Talbott on June 2, 2015, explaining the high releases to county commissioners’ court.

      http://harriscountytx.swagit.com/play/06022015-653

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *