PRESS RELEASE: Mayor Sylvester Turner proclaims Wed., February 22, 2017 as Houston Wilderness Day!

Happy Houston Wilderness Day! Yesterday the City of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Council Member Jack Christie and other city council members proclaimed Wednesday, February 22, 2017 as Houston Wilderness Day.

Photo: Michael Ciaglo, Staff  Paddlers pass through Buffalo Bayou Park during the 15-mile Buffalo Bayou Partnership Regatta. 

Photo: Michael Ciaglo, Staff

Paddlers pass through Buffalo Bayou Park during the 15-mile Buffalo Bayou Partnership Regatta. 

Ten years ago on February 22, 2007, the City of Houston declared a Houston Wilderness Day in recognition of the creation of the organization and its initial work to educate the public on the 10 ecoregions in the Greater Houston area. Since February 22nd, 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the first Houston Wilderness Day. Today we are honored to celebrate our efforts over the past 10 years to promote, protect and preserve the biodiversity in our 10 ecoregions through convening, problem solving and educating with over 100 organizations in our region.

Today the Houston Chronicle ran an article called

"Perrin, Blackburn: Celebrating a 'green' vision for Houston, with much work still ahead." 

See an excerpt below.   

"Our region is a diverse metroplex composed of forested headwaters and bayou greenways that cross dwindling prairies as they meander - and at times, rush - toward coastal baywaters, islands and oyster reefs. Urban/suburban development and major urban ports are nestled among these ecoregions - 10 in all, making Greater Houston one of the most ecologically diverse regions in the country. This collective ecosystem abundance and biodiversity is also known as "Houston's wilderness," and it's a richness we are celebrating with Houston Wilderness Day...."

To see the full editorial visit Houston Chronicle by clicking the link below.

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/Perrin-Blackburn-Celebrating-a-green-vision-10949216.php

UPDATE ON STATUS: RESTORE Direct Component (Bucket 1) RFGA

The Bucket 1 Review Team has submitted its evaluations of the more than 200 project applications, totaling approximately $3.4 billion, received in response to the RFGA for the RESTORE Direct Component (Bucket 1) grant funds. As a reminder, the Bucket 1 Review Team consisted of representatives from several state agencies and the Governor’s Office. Commissioner Baker is in the process of reviewing those completed evaluations and the applications to identify potential projects for funding.

Following Baker’s review, and in collaboration with the Governor, a draft project list will be selected for inclusion in the State’s Multi-Year Implementation Plan (MIP). Under the RESTORE Act this plan is required to secure project funding and will be posted for public comment prior to submission to U.S. Treasury.

Please continue to visit this website for information on when the draft MIP, with the project list, will be posted in both the Texas Register and this website for public comment. Following the 45-day comment period, the finalized MIP will be submitted to the U.S. Treasury for acceptance.

We appreciate the overwhelming interest in the RESTORE Act program and look forward to presenting an MIP to the public that maximizes the benefit of these funds to the environment and economy of the Texas coast.

Texas Trustee Implementation Group Calls for Restoration Project Proposals

The Texas Trustee Implementation Group (Texas TIG) is calling for new or revised restoration proposals by August 31, 2016 in preparation for the next phase of Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) restoration planning.

Restoration funds allocated to the Texas TIG must be used for five specific restoration types. Early Restoration projects are already funding bird and sea turtle restoration types. Therefore, the Texas TIG is prioritizing current restoration planning efforts on restoration types that were not addressed previously:

1) restore and conserve wetland, coastal, and nearshore habitats;
2) restore water quality through nutrient reduction (nonpoint source); and
3) replenish and protect oysters.

The Texas TIG will also consider projects for engineering and design that focus on the three restoration types mentioned above. The focus will be on these restoration categories, however the Texas TIG will continue to consider any important opportunities for additional restoration and protection of avian resources and sea turtles. All projects will be evaluated using the criteria established in the NRDA regulations (15 CFR 990.54).

Approximately $47.6 million is currently available for restoration project funding in Texas this year. In addition, over the next 15 years, the Texas TIG will receive approximately $124.8 million in additional restoration funding. The current restoration planning effort may utilize all or part of these funds. The Texas TIG may propose both discrete restoration projects as well as one or more programmatic restoration efforts. Each of the projects and programmatic efforts may require multiple years to complete and they may be funded in part by restoration funds received in the future.

Please submit your proposal by August 31, 2016 to be considered by the Texas TIG for the draft restoration plan expected to be released in spring 2017. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please contact TXDWHNRDA@tpwd.texas.gov.

 

Past week, over $50 million in environmental grant applications in Greater Houston Region

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 April 25, 2016
Contact: Deborah January-Bevers
deborah@houstonwilderness.org
(713) 524-7330 x 205

Past week, over $50 million in environmental grant applications in Greater Houston Region were submitted to TCEQ to fund projects that will reduce flooding and improve habitat, quality of life and economic development

HOUSTON, TX, April 20, 2016 – This past week over $50 million in grant proposals benefiting the eight-county Greater Houston Region were submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to be considered for funding under the RESTORE Act, part of the gulf oil spill recovery plan. The total amount available for funding under TCEQ’s current request for RESTORE applications is $56 million (www.restorethetexascoast.org).

 As part of a two-year effort to create the first-ever 8-county Gulf-Houston Regional Conservation Plan (Gulf-Houston RCP), over 50 partners collaborated together to submit the 14 respective projects, ranging in amounts from $750,000 to over $12 million. These projects allow for hundreds of acres in restored prairies, riparian corridors along 14 creeks and bayous, coastal wetlands, reforestation and nature-based pedestrian trails (see attached Joint Letter of Support from the Gulf-Houston RCP Steering Committee and map of the project locations). 

The past week provided plenty of evidence of why these projects are critical to the Greater Houston Region. Upstream prairies and coastal wetlands significantly help prevent flooding of homes and provide hurricane storm surge protection. One acre of prairie land can absorb 9 inches of rainfall per hour before runoff occurs, and will intercept as much as 53 tons of water during a 1-inch per hour rain event. Large-scale tree planting also absorbs tons of water and significantly cleans the air and water in our region.

 The Gulf-Houston RCP (www.gulfhoustonrcp.org) collectively identifies our region’s most pressing environmental needs with projects organized into five (5) key initiatives.

  1. Bayou Greenways Initiative 
  2. Headwaters to Baywaters Initiative 
  3. Prairie Conservation Initiative 
  4. Galveston Bay Habitat Acquisition & Easements Initiative  
  5. Galveston Bay Oyster Reefs & Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative 

 

In addition to the flood control, and water/air quality benefits, the funding and implementation of projects in the Gulf-Houston Regional Conservation Plan will sustain and improve the ecological infrastructure of the Gulf-Houston region and provide the backbone for sustainable growth and economic development as Greater Houston becomes the 3rd largest City in America and the Texas Gulf Coast continues to provide major ports for the United States.

RESTORE Act Now Accepting Proposals Through Friday, April 15, 2016.

Applications for Texas projects for grant funding under the Direct Component (Bucket 1) of the federal RESTORE Act are now being accepted through the Restore The Texas Coast website until 5:00 pm on Friday, April 15, 2016.

An instructional video with step by step instructions on completing the entire application package (basic application, addendum with environmental checklist and budget) will be posted on the Restore The Texas Coast website on Tuesday, January 19, 2016.

Detailed information on the request for projects can be found in the Request for Grant Application (https://www.restorethetexascoast.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/RFGA-Bucket-1-01-17-15.pdf). The RFGA provides information on the application process, as well as eligibility requirements. See more at https://www.restorethetexascoast.org/.

The total amount available for funding under this request for applications is approximately $56 million. Direct Component grants must support projects that: restore and protect natural habitats; mitigate damage to fish and wildlife; improve state parks in coastal areas; protect against coastal floods; promote tourism and/or consumption of Gulf Coast seafood; or develop the workforce and create jobs in the coastal region.

The review and selection process is competitive and includes elements from other state and federal grant programs. The scoring criteria is based on the Priorities Document.

An initial list of selected projects will be posted for a 45-day public comment period and the final list of selected projects will be included in the Multi-year Implementation Plan required by U.S. Treasury to secure grant funds.

In addition, application workshops will be held in Houston, Corpus Christi and Brownsville. 

Over the next three months, Houston Wilderness will provide pertinent follow-up information via email, collaborative meetings and at http://houstonwilderness.org/gulf-restoration-funds/ on RESTORE grant funding and its relationship to the Gulf-Houston Regional Conservation Plan (seewww.gulfhoustonrcp.org). Please also see www.gulfhoustonrcp.org for information on the 5 key initiatives and respective environmental/conservation projects in the 8-county Gulf-Houston Region.