Since 2013, a consortium of conservation and environmental groups have worked together to create the first-ever 8-county Gulf-Houston Regional Conservation Plan (Gulf-Houston RCP), comprised of every known environmental/conservation project in this region (see RCP packet and maps below). The Gulf-Houston RCP collectively identifies our region’s conservation needs and explores collaborative projects and initiatives that will bolster the environmental and economic health of the upper Texas coast, specifically this 8-county Houston-Galveston region, which represents close to 10 percent of the nation's 40 million acres of coastal wetlands. Despite a population of over 6 million people, this Region still contains acres of pristine and diverse ecologic habitats. As the population grows to 10 million by 2040, these intact ecological areas will become increasingly threatened and fractured due to land and water development, expansion of the region, and built infrastructure to accommodate this growth.

Key Initiatives

 The Gulf-Houston Regional Conservation Plan highlights four (4) ecologically significant areas (“Eco-Areas”) and contains two phases.  The Initiatives are part of the Gulf-Houston RCP - Phase One and, when fully funded, will include 280,000 acres of land acquisition, 15,000 acres in land easements and restoration, and development of over 250 recreational trail miles.  In addition to the collaborative programs under each RCP initiative, the following multi-partner RCP-related programs are also facilitated by HW: the Gulf-Houston Monarch Flyway Strategy, Houston Urban Wildlife Initiative, Gulf-Houston Land-Use Coordination (GHLUC) Program, and the Houston Area Urban Forests Project.  The GHLUC Program includes the RCP Land-Use Continuum, RCP-based Mitigation Banking Project Options, TCEQ SEPs expansion, regional public funding opportunities, and the Houston Urban Forests Project.

  1. Riparian Corridor Protection Initiative  – protect riparian corridor within the nearly 50 watersheds that feed into Galveston Bay, including the Brazos, San Jacinto and Lower Trinity rivers.
    • Bayou Greenways Initiative - collaborative trail and open space projects (riparian forests and wetlands) along entire 250+ mile stretch of 10 bayou arteries from Spring Creek south to Clear Creek. 
    • Headwater to Baywater Initiative - connecting bayous and the bay in the San Jacinto River watershed through riparian protection and restoration. 
    • Lower Trinity River Project - connecting ecotourism to riparian conservation by protecting riparian corridors along the Lower Trinity River in the five counties which encompass the LTR watershed leading towards Galveston Bay.
    • Columbia Brazos Corridor Project  -  protecting and enhancing riparian habitat along the Brazos River and Columbia Bottomlands Corridor. 
  2. Prairie Conservation Initiative – restoration and preservation of tens of thousands of acres of coastal prairie remnants that comprise the One Prairie throughout the eight counties in the RCP.
  3. Galveston Bay Habitat Acquisition & Easements Initiative - restoring habitat (coastal wetlands, bottomlands and estuaries) from multiple counties leading into the Bay & Gulf Coast, including Galveston Island and other nearby barrier islands. 
  4. Galveston Bay Oyster Reefs & Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative - restoration, creation and preservation of Galveston Bay oyster reefs, inland rookery islands and other bird habitat within the lower Galveston Bay watershed. 

Related Initiatives: 

By investing less than $1 billion now to acquire, restore and maintain these vital Eco-Areas, this Region will receive over $3 billion in economic development dollars.


[1]  The Gulf-Houston Regional Conservation Plan includes 8 counties: Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Fort Bend, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller County