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.

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.

Congress passed the budget deal, and President Obama signed it; it’s official: these charitable tax breaks are permanent.

In a strong bipartisan action, the Senate voted 65-33 on December 18th to pass the bill that will make the tax incentive for conservation easement donations permanent. This follows yesterday’s 318-109 vote in the House. This legislation has been a priority for the Land Trust Alliance for a decade, and it represents a huge win for conservation, for landowners and for the land trust community. Once signed into law the incentive will be applied retroactively to start Jan. 1, 2015.

Today’s vote also reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund for three years and increased its funding from $306 million last year to $450 million this year.

The enhanced incentives have helped farmers, ranchers and other modest-income landowners increase the pace of land conservation. With the enhancements, land and easement donations can wipe out up to 50% of a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (100% for farmers) and any unused portion can be carried forward and applied against AGI for up to 15 years. (Current law allows for a 30% of AGI deduction limit and a five-year carryforward.) The proposed deal includes a new provision that would permit Alaska Native Corporations to deduct donations of conservation easements up to 100% of taxable income.

The Land Trust Alliance has been seeking permanency for this incentive for a decade, and it will have a major impact on future conservation, Shay says. There may not be time to ink conservation deals by year-end but permanency would mean that land trusts can reach out to potential conservationists to start the donation conversation, knowing the tax breaks are in place—a huge benefit. 

Thank you to all who reached out to legislators to educate them about both the importance of this incentive and the critical role that land trusts play in communities across the country. And thank you to all those on Capitol Hill who are champions of conservation and this legislation.