Pettibone surveys the “restoration” of the wild banks of Buffalo Bayou. By Kirk Farris.
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Don’t mess with Buffalo Bayou. It is a public treasure, as well as a valuable asset to birds,and other animals. It is an asset to
the city of Houston and a wonderful boundary for Memorial Park, to which most visitors to our city delight in visiting.
DON’T MESS WITH OUR BAYOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks! Please be sure to comment on the Houston Chronicle editorial page also.
As a native Houstonion, preserving our treasured bayou is of the utmost importance to me. All too often we sacrifice historical landmarks or wildlife without thinking of the consequences. Texas cities don’t have the longevity or history of our northeastern ones but we have our own unique ecosystems and culture that is just as important and we should fight to maintain and save them. Whatever I am able to do to help, I am willing to do. Let my voice be
added to those who decry this hasty and mislead plan.
Great comment. Please share these thoughts with the readership of the Houston Chronicle. We need more comments there! Thanks for visiting our website.
STOP! I HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET! AND SURELY IT IS HOME TO LITTLE CRITTERS. PLEASE DON’T FIGHT A GIFT FROM NATURE AND ALL IT’S PURPOSES.
There is so much outstanding information to show the damage that will be done if The Corps of Engineers is allowed to do its deatructive plan for reconstructing Buffalo Bayou. This OVER the top destruction must be stopped. Mary Jane Victor
Thank you. Please everyone note, however, that this is a plan proposed by the Harris County Flood Control District. The Army Corps of Engineers must approve a permit for the project based on federal laws protecting waterways.
But the real author and proponent of this destructive project is the Bayou Preservation Association. And as one puzzled council member said to us in his office yesterday, if the BPA weren’t behind this terrible idea, it would have gone nowhere. So let’s start putting the blame where it belongs. The BPA has become the evil force that it was founded to fight.
Posting comments is all well and good. They will have no effect on the outcome of the issue. We must find more effective methods of countering this. Very wealthy and powerful interests favor this project.
It is obvious that the BPA won’t help.
Thank you for the great website, its very informative. Seems like this is an ongoing issue in Houston, on how to achieve balance between nature and development. Well, one would think that their has been enough disruptive consequences as a result of destroying the natural ecological system. I would like to ask what is the Buffalo bayou partnership doing to stop this practice of destroying bayou’s?. We all know that sound engineering cannot and will never solve the flooding problem, it has to come from the bayou’s itself. Anyway, i am currently pursuing a Master of Architecture thesis in Houston, that looks at re-naturalizing the bayou edges, while proposing public facilities. The proposal is to use the existing bridge (main street bridge), turn it into a pedestrian park that accomodates Bayou ecological education center, UHD arts related program, cafe/restaurant. By situating these programs ontop of the existing bridge, it is not only a continuation of the street as it is, but the infrastructure is already well above the flood plane. This allow the landscape comprising the bayou edges to be free. You can email me if you have any suggestions or are interested in anyway whatsoever. Thanks – Hannah
Thank you for your insight. The Buffalo Bayou Partnership is a development organization responsible for the development of Buffalo Bayou east of Shepherd Bridge. Unfortunately they destroyed considerable natural riparian vegetation in the process of doing that. There has been and continues to be debate about whether the recreational and entertainment facilities they have built between the Sabine Street and Shepherd bridges should be on the banks of the bayou or somewhere else. There is concern about whether they will last. The newly built banks are already eroding and dumping a large amount of mud into the bayou. However, this is a part of the bayou that has been channelized and its once large riparian forest cut down decades ago.
Alas,the Buffalo Bayou Partnership does not see the value of preserving our last natural stretch of Buffalo Bayou in the city. The Partnership supports the plan to raze the riparian forest and bulldoze the banks of Buffalo Bayou as it passes between Memorial Park, the Hogg Bird Sanctuary, and the River Oaks Country Club. Their justification is that the project to dredge, channelize, and rebuild these natural banks will somehow reduce the amount of sand on their new sidewalks.
I think you need a proper facility as well, that will showcase the bayou in a different way, talks about its heritage and significance but its an architectural landmark as well which integrates nature with culture, artificial vs natural. We need a big move for this city that will signify the importance of moving forward.
Destroying natural settings like the Buffalo Bayou is easy. But, finding solutions to save it and to represent both sides in this debate while challenging is the better way. My simple solution is to move the golf course and restore the forest to prevent erosion.
I wonder if a count were taken how many people would support the golf course. It seems impractical to me that an expensive golf course that is very costly to maintain should take precedence over the bayou that does not require upkeep.
I don’t think the funds that will go into destroying the bayou at the expense of maintaining the golf course is justified.
This is not something directly related to your cause but the H-GAC is proposing building some roads within Addicks and Barker Reservoir, one of which will cut directly over the wildest portion of Buffalo Bayou withing Barker Reservoir in West Houston near the intersection with Mason Creek. This plan is open for public comment until January 9, 2015 and can be found at mywesthouston.com. I have sent them my comments today and published those comments on my website along with photographs illustrating the points at http://www.littergetters.com/mobilityplan.htm. I definitely support your cause and its unfortunate how the various groups constantly try to screw up Buffalo Bayou, this is yet another example.
Thanks, Adam. Many people will be interested to know about this and want to make comments.
I was told by someone who was being recruited to participate in the Memorial Park Conservancy about four years ago that the purpose was to remove the trees because the residents in the surrounding “new” neighborhoods, including Arlington Court, were concerned that their homes would be consumed by wildfires. The drought around that time left many trees dead and falling. The solution was to take down the trees and make “my neighborhood” safe. This included making the Buffalo Bayou behind River Oaks homes impassible for pedestrian and bike trails. Not much about Historic Preservation was of concern in my opinion.
Hmm. Not sure how that would all work. No public officials are going to suggest putting pedestrian and bike trails through the backyards of River Oaks homes, which are already impassable anyway. Note that this project area does not include any River Oaks homes, only the River Oaks County Club, which owns the entire south bank of the project.
But the parks board and the Memorial Park Conservancy probably did and do hope to put a hike and bike trail along the bayou bank once the trees are all down and the banks graded into grassy slopes. We’re in favor of trails and use them ourselves, but bikes do not have to go everywhere, especially when they kill the bayou and lead to washouts. We suggest putting the Bayou Greenways project through the woods of Memorial Park — along the existing east-west powerline easement. Leave the bayou banks and forest to environmentally sensitive soft paths like they use in national parks. Not every bike path needs to be right on the very edge of the bayou.
Otherwise, if people think trees in our public park are a threat to their homes, they should move away from the trees.
The previous comment was mostly in reference to the removal of trees.
My wife and I live in north Montrose where we have enjoyed walking the bayou almost on a daily basis for the last eight to ten years. We enjoyed the gravel trail of the past and now enjoy the developed newer walking trails. We have seen a gradual increase in pedestrian and bicycle traffic pre Covid-19 with a significant ramp up of the numbers during this pandemic. There has been a definite change in the intensity of traffic on the parkway where we now feel unsafe while walking. What we now see is wanton disregard of pedestrian safety by bicyclists racing down the paths of the Allen Parkway portion of Buffalo Bayou. We have seen accidents and near misses increase with pedestrians taking the brunt. There needs to be a plan in place where everyone can use the parkway safely. Other major cities parks designs may point the way to a possible solution. Look at Minneapolis with its myriad of walkways and exclusive and separate bicycle paths that allow coexistence and free and safe use of the parkways . Our BB Parkways cannot afford to lose the support of it’s pedestrian traffic. This comes from a clear bike enthusiast. I would like to know what agency or organization I can reach out to receive help or guidance on this issue.
The Mayor’s office has announced a pilot program to close off some streets for bikers and pedestrians. We are in favor of that.
You should contact the mayor’s office as well as your city council representative. Perhaps send a copy of that email or letter to the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, which manages Buffalo Bayou Park for the city. Best of all would be for you to send a Letter to the Editor of the Chronicle, with copies to all the above mentioned people.
I read with interest and concern the two letters to the editor about Buffalo Bayou. Given my limited knowledge of the bayou and its preservation/restoration, what was said certainly made sense. Then in today’s Sunday Chronicle is a letter to the editor from the Bayou Preservation Association seemingly contradicting your Friday letters. As a result, I am confused about who is correct?
It is such a shame that we do not have a more viable Bayou like San Antonio. I, and others, cannot understand why.
Barbara Jean Lauratis
A concerned Houstonian
Dear Barbara Jean Lauratis,
Thank you for writing!
We have a beautiful living river flowing through the middle of Houston, bordered by forests and filled with wildlife. This is rare and wonderful. We should proud of that. We need nature, especially as we are surrounded by concrete. The San Antonio River flowing through the downtown of San Antonio is no longer a river but a canal. It is mostly concrete, and its flow is diverted and controlled by a series of mechanisms. The water is even captured and returned via an underground channel and pump.
But south of the city, the San Antonio River Foundation has worked hard to raise money and restore to a more natural state stretches of the river that had long ago been straightened and channelized. If authorities here want to do that – and they should – they should focus their restoration efforts on bayous and streams that have been straightened and covered in concrete. Remove the concrete, which blocks the springs and increases flooding and erosion downstream. Allow the growth of the native vegetation that naturally cleanses the water and provides a happier, healthier environment for all of us.
It’s not clear what you mean by viable. Perhaps you mean a bayou that never floods. Flooding, first of all, is a natural and necessary function of rivers. The rest of the world is learning that the best policy is to get out of the way of flooding. Here we have built too close to our bayous. But the solution to our flooding is not to kill the river. We need to stop stormwaters before they enter our streams. We need more efficient and more cost-effective policies and practices that emphasize slowing down stormwater, spreading it out and soaking it.
We taxpayers do not need to pay for more expensive engineering interventions that don’t work and require constant costly maintenance and repair — and that in the process destroy what precious natural areas remain to us.
Michael Bloom, who wrote the letter to the editor appearing today (Sunday, May 21, 2017) is a member of the executive board of the Bayou Preservation Association. He is also an engineer working for RG Miller, a respected engineering company that regularly contracts for work with the city and county. The board of the BPA is dominated by engineering, construction, and development interests who take a different perspective on what’s best for us and the city.
Thank you very much for responding to my question. I now understand the difference and certainly the obvious answer is not from Bayou Preservation Association. Just let us. i.e. the public, what we can do to support the Save the Bayou position.
Thank you, Barbara Lauratis.
What the public can do is contact the mayor of Houston, city council members, and Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle, who is in charge of the Harris County Flood Control District in Memorial Park. Cagle is a smart man who has been doing great work with the Bayou Land Conservancy on Spring and Cypress Creeks. He should understand why we want to preserve this beautiful stretch of Buffalo Bayou. For information on how to contact our political representativess, please see our page What To Do Now.
Also please tell your friends, family, and neighbors about this. We have a flyer you can print under What To Do Now. For talking points, see The Top Eleven Phony Arguments for Bulldozing our Wild Bayou and The Right Answers. Also The Plain Facts offers basic information.
And please consider donating. We need your support. We are a 501c3 non profit and your donations are tax-deductible. You can donate through Paypal or send a check. Thank you again for your interest and support.
Just want to learn more about your corporate fundraising efforts from the businesses that line Buffalo Bayou
Thanks for your interest, Dr. Kim. Save Buffalo Bayou does not have or seek corporate funding. Our financial support comes entirely from individuals and foundations. They are all listed under our Donate page. Here are the donors for 2017.
We believe that it is unwise to develop land in the natural floodplains of our bayous. You can learn more about that by reading our Mission Statement.
In Katy,Tx in Fort Bend County 2018-‘19 Buffalo Bayou flows under Mason Road bridge and on the south side of it’s bank a path is currently being finished and runs west to it’s bayou split where the two bayous run together. I thought we are not to put cement on Buffalo Bayou’s banks. This is what I see happening. The bank has been prepared to receive a large pathway of some kind—hope it’s not cement! Can someone see about this ASAP? No more bank cement, right?
Thanks, Sharon. We are preparing a report on what’s happening to the bayou and other streams out there. Could you send us a photo? We encourage everyone to stay alert and send us info about streams and trees and drainage. And birds and butterflies, flowers and grasses.
HCFCD is trying to build a canal that will bypass two natural meanders of Buffalo Bayou north of downtown. (https://www.hcfcd.org/Activity/Active-Projects/White-Oak-Bayou/C-39-North-Canal) The shovels are still not gong to hit the ground for a few more years. I was curious if your organization has heard of this project or has any plans to argue against it.
Thank you for your question.
Buffalo Bayou where it meets White Oak Bayou downtown was significantly altered and channelized many years ago. The bayou in fact used to flow under what is now Tranquility Park garage and much further north. The meanders affected by the North Canal are not natural, unfortunately. We are not opposed to the North Canal, which has the potential to reduce flooding downtown likely caused by the earlier engineering interference (concreting White Oak Bayou, for example). However, we are opposed in general to engineered bypass meanders. Rivers naturally flood over meanders.
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