New Photos of Destruction of Buffalo Bayou

Unnecessarily Damaging Bank Project Continues Opposite Memorial Park

Call and complain!

June 11, 2019

They had other options. They should have been required to use the least damaging alternative. But the City of Houston, in concert with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Harris County Flood Control District, gave the River Oaks Country Club a permit to grind up and bulldoze the bank of one of the loveliest stretches of Buffalo Bayou in the center of Houston. The club is doing this in three areas, pounding sheet pile deep into the bank, dumping dirt and concrete riprap onto it and more. And those public agencies, obligated to protect us and our environment, knew that environmentally-destructive projects like this often fail, that they cause more erosion and flooding to neighboring property.

They’re not even using silt fencing to prevent dirt from rolling into the bayou. We complained to the City last Thursday. As of Sunday still no silt fencing. We’ve also now complained to the US Army Corps of Engineers.

You can complain too. Call the City at 311 and complain about the failure to use silt fencing as required by law. The address is 1600 River Oaks Boulevard. The City floodplain permit is Project 19020694. Also call the Corps’ Regulatory Hotline at 409-766-3869. The permit number is SWG 2013-00593.


Area 3 on June 6, 2019. This is at the downstream end of the golf course next to the 3rd hole opposite private residences and the Hogg Bird Sanctuary owned by the people of Houston.

They Didn’t Have to Do It

Though club members have been told that the situation is dire and urgent,  their bank problems didn’t look that bad to our geologists. As one noted: their solution is “like using a sledge hammer to pound a tack.”

They are spending as much as possible, something like $20-24 million, when they could have spent a fraction of that using softer, natural methods like anchored brush, strategically positioned large woody debris, and plantings that would not have radically altered the flow of the stream, deflecting it onto the opposite bank, destroying the stream’s beneficial function of absorbing and cleansing the water and providing habitat.  They could have restored a strip of native trees and grasses to the edge of the mowed golf course to divert and absorb runoff currently flowing over the eroding bank. Because we have vertical collapse or slumping of the banks on Buffalo Bayou, the most effective path is simply to retreat, pull their large golf course, denuded of trees over the years, including in recent weeks, and expanded in 2015, back from the very edge. These practices—stripping the trees, planting short-rooted grass, mowing and watering the grass—among others, are contributing to their slumping problems. Instead they have used the most costly and environmentally-damaging methods possible, including in 2015 riprap that predictably failed, and have now opened themselves to the possibility of a lawsuit.


Plastic protecting denuded, slumping bank in Area 3 where riprap was installed in 2015.  Photo Oct. 28, 2017, after Harvey.


Same Area 3 four months later on January 21, 2018.


Riprap on Area 3 on Oct. 5, 2015. Photo by Jim Olive.


Area 3 in October 2014 after spraying of turf in preparation for renovation of the club’s golf course and before installation of riprap. Photo by Jim Olive


Area 3 on May 5, 2019, before construction began and during high water from heavy rain two days earlier. Photo by Jim Olive


Deflecting Erosion and Flooding onto Private and Public Land

The country club armoring of the bank  is opposite private residences as well as forested public land in the Hogg Bird Sanctuary and Memorial Park.

The club also removed virtually all of the trees in a substantial forest along one of two federally-protected tributaries flowing across the golf course into Buffalo Bayou. The two streams are above areas 2 and 3.

The club member responsible for the bank project since at at least 2013 as well as the 2015 renovation of the golf course is Steve Lindley. Lindley declined to comment publicly but offered a visit to the country club banks.

Here are some recent photos of the three destruction areas:


Another view of Area 3 on June 6, 2019



Area 2, near Hole 16, looking downstream from a high bank in Memorial Park. Photo June 6, 2019


Winter view from tributary in Memorial Park towards Area 2. Photo February 14, 2019, by SC


Area 1 next to the 14th hole at the upstream limits of the River Oaks Country Club golf course on June 6, 2019.


Looking upstream at Area 1 on June 6, 2019. Photo by SC


Area 1 on October 27, 2018. Photo by SC