For the past couple months I have been removing invasive Island Apple snails (Pomacea maculata) and their egg clutches because they consume aquatic vegetation and destroy wetlands, estuaries, and other habitats. They have a very high reproductive rate of up to 500 eggs per egg clutch that hatch every 10-15 days. Also the adults can mate many times after they become sexually mature (2-3 months); this quickly stimulates the creation of Island Apple snail monocultures. Island Apple snails originate in Latin America and have few predators which causes rapid overpopulation and decreases diversity of species. Their egg clutches range from pink to white and the paler the egg clutch the closer it is to hatching. These egg clutches are located on reeds, plants, and other support items above the water’s surface. I have seen them mostly on the Pickerel weed in 1A. Together we can make a difference by removing as many of their egg clutches as possible when we see them to protect the Exploration Green we have all worked hard to create. Continue Reading »

NYT floods Houston

New York Times map of flood damage, Hurricane Harvey, Harris County

also at  Gray Matters

Flooding during Harvey was not a random occurrence.  Heavy rainfall—averaging 35 inches in Harris County –was widespread, but the flooding was not.  The deepest flooding, the kind where rescue boats were needed, was where the bayous and creeks overflowed their banks, flooding low-lying zones along our bayous and creeks.  There were also many areas that flooded as a result of poorly maintained or designed urban drainage systems. But these were a small fraction of the overall flooding.

The low-lying areas along our waterways are the natural floodplains excavated by bayous and creeks over many thousands of years. It flooded here long before we, or even the Karankawa, ever showed up. Over the millennia, the bayous naturally widened their valleys, or floodplains, to where the system could easily absorb a storm like Harvey.

That system is still here—and it handled Harvey very well.  We were the ones who didn’t handle it well. If we had not given over most of our floodplains to development, Harvey would still have caused us grief—but it would not have much more than a nuisance.  We would have had to stay home for 2-3 days, but we would have avoided a great deal of trauma. Continue Reading »

Each project at TCWP develops an array of participants bringing unique knowledge and assistance. Sometimes a project gets an unexpected helping hand. As the year changes over, it’s a good time to show appreciation for Trees for Houston‘s contributions to the TCWP Stormwater Wetland Program in 2017.

How does a tree organization help a wetland program? Let me show you in photos.

Trees for Houston donated four bald Bald cypress for the new stormwater wetland demonstration project at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston’s Texas Medical Center. The trees, showing this golden fall color in December, help draw the eye and will provide shade to this landscaped urban wetland.

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20171011_155107I am Erin Brown, a Clear Falls High School senior, interning with Mary Carol Edwards as part of my Biotech Practicum course. While interning I have been inspired by the outside world around me. I have found new ideas for my poetry, art, and science projects (experiment ideas) while in the nursery and wetland at Exploration Green, surrounded by serenity.

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I-45 in Galveston County.   A neighborhood of isolation with a high per-capita destruction of native prairie.

We have all heard the Harvey wakeup call. We all know we can’t continue business as usual. We have to change our ways. We will in fact be “the city that floods” unless we stop being the “city of no limits.”

Unlike previous storms, every one of us knows personally someone who was flooded out of their house. This storm will long remain with us. The Harvey aftermath will last much longer than previous storms—and thus will provide a longer “teachable moment” for us to think about our future. Let’s make this teachable moment about much more than flooding. Maybe thinking about how to be a great city will help us deal more rationally with the flooding as well. Continue Reading »