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.

On May 15, 2018, the Gulf-Houston RCP launched the 24% by 2040 Nature-Based Infrastructure Strategy to improve our region's quality of life while enhancing ecological and economic resilience in the 8-county region. The Strategy targets 24% in nature-based infrastructure (NBI) by 2040, an additive 15% over the current 9% in preserved/protected land. Achieving 24% of nature-based land capacity allows for larger tracts of riparian corridors protected, additional prairie and forest lands acquired and preserved, and wetlands restored and enhanced for coastal protection. If the exisiting NBI plans and projects currently being circulated & implemented in our region receive the needed funding to complete, the 8-county region could achieve 24% in nature-based infrastructure by 2040 (see Continumm & Action Agenda below).

 

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 300,000 acres of land acquisition, 22,000 acres in land easements and restoration, and development of over 250 recreational trail miles. 

  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.

Contiuum & Action Agenda (May 2018).jpg
 

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