The Mayor supports “prioritizing natural infrastructure.” So tell her to drop the plan to bulldoze 14 acres of riparian forest in the middle of our city.

June 23, 2014

Mayor Annise Parker was in the national news this weekend with a resolution “Prioritizing Natural Infrastructure” at the US Conference of Mayors in Dallas.

Let the mayor know you support this wise resolution and urge her to honor it by withdrawing from Harris County’s unwise plan to bulldoze hundreds of trees, vegetation, and habitat from the wild banks of Buffalo Bayou in and around our public Memorial Park.

The resolution sponsored by Parker, Mayor Lee Leffingwell of Austin, and Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix, encourages cities to prioritize and support “natural solutions to protect freshwater supplies, defend the nation’s coastlines, maintain a healthy tree cover, and protect air quality.”

Pettibone surveys the "restoration" of the wild banks of Buffalo Bayou.

Pettibone inspects the “restoration” of the wild banks of Buffalo Bayou. Drawing by Kirk Farris.

Perhaps the mayor doesn’t realize that the plan she and the city council voted to spend $2 million of taxpayer money on will strip the tree cover from some 14 acres in and around our great public park in the middle of the city. This tree cover is riparian forest, an extraordinarily rare treasure in the center of one of the nation’s largest cities, and its natural function is to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, filter pollutants from the water, protect the banks from erosion, trap sediment, slow storm waters, shade the bayou, and provide wildlife habitat.

It’s not too late to stop this horrible project, called the Memorial Park Demonstration Project and dishonestly billed as a “restoration” project. The Army Corps of Engineers is currently considering Harris County’s application for a permit to start clearing the forest and the public has only until June 30 to make comments.

But we can pressure our mayor and city council members and let them know that we have lost enough trees and nature in our city and in Memorial Park. We oppose this pointless project to destroy our Buffalo Bayou so that they can “restore” it.

One thought on “The Mayor supports “prioritizing natural infrastructure.” So tell her to drop the plan to bulldoze 14 acres of riparian forest in the middle of our city.”

  1. Nancy Greig says:

    On Sunday (June 22) I canoed down Buffalo Bayou with a friend, from Voss to the junction with White Oak Bayou. Seeing this transect of the bayou (which included the section slated for “restoration”) has convinced me that this project is wrong, wrong, wrong on a number of levels: aesthetically, environmentally, and financially. I have heard from proponents of the plan that the erosion in this area is “significant” and that the vegetation is “largely invasive species” Neither of these claims are true, as far as i could see. Yes, there are areas where some erosion is taking place – but this is natural on a waterway. Property owners all along the bayou have used a variety of different means (immensely less drastic and costly than what is proposed) to shore up their banks and reduce or eliminate erosion. Certainly there were a few non-native species along the banks, but the prevailing vegetation was native vines, sycamores, box elders, and other trees and shrubs native to the area. The cliffs, which would be eliminated in the proposed reconfiguration, are important habitat for nesting kingfishers (which we saw only in this stretch of the bayou). Furthermore, the stretch that borders Memorial Park is the only part of the bayou where natural habitat (and all the animals it contains) borders the watercourse.
    It was an awful shock to come out to the areas that have already been modified and “improved” = where no trees overhang the bayou, where grade,, grassy slopes come down to the water’s edge, and where there is no semblance of “natural” anywhere. In these areas (from Montrose and farther east) it was hot, exposed, and little wildlife was evident. These “improved” areas were stark and ugly – a human-manipulated landscape with no shade and no wildlife.
    I can only imagine the expense of carrying out the proposed “improvements” – and at what environmental cost? Seems to me the River Oaks Country Club could use some of the methods already put in place by homeowners along the bayou’s banks to shore up the areas of concern – leaving the rest alone. Taxpayers should not have to pay for this drastic plan, that would have catastrophic and permanent effects on the aesthetics and environmental integrity of Buffalo Bayou along this stretch.
    I thoroughly oppose the proposal and hope that you, Mayor Parker and city council members, will stand up to those trying to sell this as an improvement. It is not. Please say no to this proposed “restoration” of Buffalo Bayou.

    Nancy Greig, PhD
    Director Cockrell Butterfly Center

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