Houston Wilderness' mission is accomplished through Convening various groups to promote protect and preserve the biodiversity in our 10 ecoregions; providing collaborative Problem Solving opportunities on critical environmental issues; and Educating the public on the many exciting outdoor opportunities in the Greater Houston Region and the health benefits associated with nature. Houston Wilderness concentrates on the following initiatives:
I. Problem Solving
a) Network Partner Access & Advocacy Program (NPAA) – Providing problem-solving assistance and facilitation of various environmental policy issues that benefit various parts of the seven land-based and three water-based eco-regions. Through a series of informational events and communications throughout each year on “environmental issues of the day,” Houston Wilderness facilitates access to people, places and environmental-based information and technology that assist the greater Houston region, often creating multi-disciplinary connections with health care, community hazards, local/state/federal legislation and infrastructure planning.
b) Gulf-Houston Regional Conservation Plan (Final Phase of Sam Houston Greenbelt Network Initiative) – The Gulf-Houston Regional Conservation Plan (Gulf-Houston RCP) is a long-term collaborative of environmental, business and governmental entities working together to implement an ecosystem continuity and connectivity plan for the Gulf-Houston Region. This 8-county RCP is comprised of a Working List of every environmental-based project in the region and collectively identifies our region’s most pressing environmental needs – organized into 4 key initiatives. 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.
a) Collaborative Grant-Organizing (CGO) Program – Convening Network Partners and related stakeholders to provide assistance in packaging funding requests that 1) help protect and preserve areas of the Gulf-Houston RCP and beyond, and 2) bring additional collaborative funds to the region. Over 20 CGO proposals are submitted to various state/federal agencies each year, with HW facilitating many of these awarded proposals.
- Houston Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership – Working with U.S. Fish & Wildlife (USFWS) to facilitate an alliance of business, environmental and government partners to 1) create opportunities for people to Find Nature, Value Nature and Care for Nature in communities throughout the Gulf-Houston region through land and water restoration projects and environmental education efforts and 2) work with Texas Gulf Coast regional USFWS staff and stakeholders on coastal resiliency and Port-to-Port Connectivity Projects in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and related bays and barrier islands.
- Tri-Regional Monarch Flyway Strategy – The Tri-Regional Monarch Flyway Strategy Program is an effort to restore, increase and enhance Monarch habitat across three habitat restoration regions that serve as critical links in the monarch butterfly flyway, while also serving to protect habitat for other pollinators that are crucial to local ecosystems and agriculture.
- GetOutHereHouston.org – Facilitating a collaborative effort by many outdoor-related nonprofits and for profits to bring the most comprehensive outdoors website and app for the Houston Gulf Coast region.
a) Ecosystem Services (ES) within all Eco-regions– Through use of the CGO, HW’s ES Primer and related presentations, HW is targeting the ecosystem services within all 10 eco-regions for assessment and development of “protection/restoration strategies” to allow for continued flood abatement, air and water quality, carbon sequestration, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, eco-tourism and health care. (www.houstonwilderness.org/ecosystem-services)
b) Great Green Quest (GGQ) – this annual program challenges participants to get outside over the summer months and explore the Greater Houston region. “Questers” are eligible for fun prizes with sponsorships available to support schools, libraries, city park community centers, YMCA summer classes and other environmental education programs. In 2017/2018, the GGQ was expanded to include a bi-lingual “Green Jobs” component - providing information on the educational pathways that lead to careers in an environmental field and a “Careers in Conservation” graduate-level scholarship program open to interns and staff of our Network Partner organizations.
c) Wilderness Passport – Distribution and increased use of the Family Passport and the Adult-based Ecotourism Passport as a part of Houston Wilderness’ other initiatives and programs. The respective Wilderness Passports are outdoor nature resource guides that detail the 10 ecoregions that make up the Houston Wilderness coverage area. The Passport has information on a variety of parks, preserves, nature centers, and refuges that boast amazing wildlife viewing opportunities, outdoor recreation, and truly beautiful landscapes.