That We’ve Been Posting on Facebook
Jan. 27, 2021
We’ve been working somewhat behind the scenes, researching flooding and drainage issues and Zooming to meetings. But we’ve been posting items of interest on our Facebook page. We should be posting them here too. So here ya go.
Tree Equity. Trees cool us with their shade, cleanse the air, deflect and absorb rainfall, provide habitat for birds and other creatures, and generally hold the world together. But not everybody has trees.
Housing policies of the past, like redlining, have made trees abundant in wealthy neighborhoods, but scarce for socioeconomically disadvantaged communities of color. That’s why we need Tree Equity.
A plan to plant 4.6 million trees across Houston by 2030 has taken root
The Houston Chronicle
Houston Wilderness, the City of Houston, Harris County, the Texas Department of Transportation and major landscape architects formed a strategy group in November to reach the 4.6 million native trees goal. They are now compiling the first-ever regional, large-scale tree planting manual to help anyone who wants to pitch in, from private developers to individuals
And here is more information about the tree-planting program from Houston Wilderness, including the list of trees studied and their ecosystem benefits, and the list of fourteen super-trees targeted for planting.
Join the Citizens Environmental Coalition (CEC) for a virtual Houston screening of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Tour.
A selection of films from the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, North America’s largest environmental film festival, will bring two hours of beautiful, educational, and inspiring films to the comfort and safety of your own home. Preview the lineup on cechouston.org.
Proceeds from the event will be used to support CEC programs.
The CEC has lined up unique experiences and a piece of art for this year’s silent auction which is OPEN FOR BIDS using this Google Form.
Maybe time to rethink those azaleas and camelias?
Yale Environment 360
The impact of introduced plants on native biodiversity has emerged as a hot-button issue in ecology. But recent research provides new evidence that the displacement of native plant communities is a key cause of a collapse in insect populations and is affecting birds as well.
For these reasons, [Doug] Tallamy has proposed a domestic version of Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson’s Half Earth Project. If American homeowners converted half of their lawn to productive native plant communities, he says, they would create a “Homegrown National Park” larger than the Everglades, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Teton, Canyonlands, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Badlands, Olympic, Sequoia, Grand Canyon, Denali, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks combined.
Be like a butterfly. Sting like a bee.
Native Plant Society of Texas
It’s time! The 2020-2021 Bring Back the Monarchs to Texas garden grant season is now in full swing! Find the 2021 application, rules, and other information here.
Applications are due February 15th, 2021. Time flies, so don’t wait too long to start thinking about your application.
Texas Invasives is a collaborative effort among various state and federal agencies and other groups to help manage and prevent the spread of nonnative, invasive species in the state.
An “invasive species” is defined as a species that is non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. (Executive Order 13112).
An invasive species grows/reproduces and spreads rapidly, establishes over large areas, and persists. Species that become invasive succeed due to favorable environmental conditions and lack of natural predators, competitors and diseases that normally regulate their populations.
This includes a wide variety of plants, insects and animals from exotic places. As invasive species spread and take over ecosystems, they decrease biodiversity by threatening the survival of native plants and animals. In fact, invasive species are a significant threat to almost half of the native U.S. species currently listed as federally endangered.
For more info about the Texas Invasives Citizen Science Program, visit Texas Invasives.
Another related article:
National Academy of Sciences
Many numerically abundant insects provide ecosystem services upon which humans depend: the pollination of fruits, vegetables, and nuts; the biological control of weeds, agricultural pests, disease vectors, and other organisms that compete with humans or threaten their quality of life; and the macrodecomposition of leaves and wood and removal of dung and carrion, which contribute to nutrient cycling, soil formation, and water purification. Clearly, severe insect declines can potentially have global ecological and economic consequences.
[SBB is working on a follow-up about this tax abatement program, including a review of what other cities are doing to slow the flow and reduce flooding.]
The Houston Chronicle
The city last month launched a new property tax abatement program for developers who incorporate green stormwater infrastructure, a type of design aimed at minimizing the downstream impacts of development, into their projects. It also boosted incentives for LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) projects, an abatement program that has never been utilized, despite being on the city’s books for 10 years.
The stormwater strategies can take different forms, from natural landscapes and gardens with plants and other vegetation that seek to collect or slow runoff, to “green roofs” that apply similar concepts on top of buildings, to permeable pavement that allows water to seep into the ground.
Developers already must meet minimum detention requirements for how much water their projects can detain. Green storm-water infrastructure would not necessarily increase that capacity, but it could retain the water for longer than more traditional projects.
Commercial developers could save as much as 10 percent against their property tax increases when they incorporate green stormwater infrastructure into their developments. The program is open to $3 million projects that include at least an $100,000 investment in the eco-friendly strategy. The maximum abatement is the total cost of the green stormwater infrastructure, effectively reimbursing developers for including it.
Read the rest of this report in the Houston Chronicle.
And speaking of slowing the flow. Here’s how they do it in England:
Slow The Flow is a registered charity working to advance the education of the public in Natural Flood Management, Sustainable Drainage Systems and other renewable methods of managing the environment.
This includes the exploration of alternative practices which safeguard the natural environment and its resources in a manner which best fits the specifics of a local geography.
If you want to know more, visit www.slowtheflow.net
Upcoming Virtual Meetings of Interest
Virtual Meeting February 2, 2021, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
The Buffalo Bayou Partnership wants to hear from you! The development organization recently released its master plan for Buffalo Bayou East, which includes an expansion of Tony Marron Park.The plan was developed after a series of conversations with members of the Greater East End and Fifth Ward communities.
Live or work in Greater East End or Fifth Ward? The Partnership is asking you to please join on Zoom, Tuesday, February 2 from 6-8 pm to learn about the plans and progress on Buffalo Bayou East destinations,specifically the enhancements to Tony Marron Park.
There will be an opportunity for feedback and questions following the presentation. Spanish translation will be offered at the meeting.
Sunday, February 14, 2 -4:30 pm, virtual
Join Lara Cottingham, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Houston, to learn about the Houston Climate Action Plan (CAP) and how houses of worship and their members can get involved. Lara will cover the goals of the CAP and strategies and actions to be employed in reaching the goals. The CAP is designed to address climate change, but there are many co-benefits which Lara will also highlight. She will also discuss how faith communities can partner with the City of Houston to achieve the goals, helping to lead Houston to a more sustainable future.
Sponsored by The Houston Seminar, Thursday, Feb. 4, 5-6:30 pm
Please join Eric Berger of Space City Weather and environmental attorney Jim Blackburn for “Galveston Bay and the Storm Surge of Our Nightmares,” a conversation about hurricane storm surges, coastal defense barriers, and the mid-bay gate proposal, known as the Galveston Bay Park Plan.
Thursday, February 4, from 5-6:30 pm via Zoom. Cost is $25.
There are two more events in this series titled “Water, Water Everywhere: Strategies and Success Stories.” Local experts will discuss flood control projects on Feb 11 and low-impact development on Feb. 18.
Sort of related:
From the Biomimicry Institute
This “biomimetic revolution” is now considered to be a major guideline towards more sustainable built environments, meaning that buildings are focused on learning from nature rather than only extracting elements from it.