Friends of Lake Livingston

Texan by Nature designated Friends of Lake Livingston (FoLL) as a valued partner and as a Conservation Wrangler for leadership in the restoration of Lake Livingston.

Lake Livingston is the second largest lake in Texas, created in 1971 to provide most of Houston’s water. Due to the overuse of shore bulkheads and past management practices, the lake had lost the majority of its aquatic plant life. Consequences of these practices resulted in loss of quality shoreline habitat, increased shore erosion and siltation, and reduced water quality. The loss of native vegetation also exposes the lake to infestation by invasive foreign plants.

In 2013, the Trinity River Authority and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department approved a plan to foster natural habitat around 85,000-acre Lake Livingston. The plan, developed by the Texas Black Bass Unlimited and the Piney Wood Lakes Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists, created FoLL with a clear mission: reestablish Lake Livingston as a prime destination for anglers and water enthusiasts by restoring aquatic habitat. With the plan approved, FoLL was formed to focus on four key goals:

  • Create natural habitat by planting non-invasive aquatic plants on shorelines, islands, and shallow water flats.
  • Reduce shoreline erosion, improve water filtration and quality, and provide habitat for juvenile fish, reptiles, and birds.
  • Engage a multi-generational volunteer force to manage the project across its expected 10-year span.
  • Educate local high schools to grow, propagate, and plant to demonstrate economic and ecological impact of a healthy aquatic habitat.

To accomplish their goal, FoLL created a community-based volunteer pool ranging from local high school students in their early teens to retirees in their eighties. This also includes inmate horticulturists from Huntsville’s Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Ellis Unit that are developing improved methods for growing healthier plants in less time.

Just four years into the 10-year program, FoLL has achieved much as an all-volunteer effort:

  • Planting approximately 10,000 plants are growing and establishing colonies
  • Named one of “2015 10 Waters to Watch” by National Fish Habitat Partnership
  • Built a multi-generational, all volunteer coalition of 250+ adults (retirees to young parents) and students
  • In partnership with the OB Ellis Unit Correctional Facility, with guidance of Lee College School of Horticulture, to operate 3 additional grow tanks enabling the growth of 10,000 plants.
  • Put 22 grow tanks in operation, each with 600-700 plants
  • 7 school districts, with grow tanks, engaged in propagating, maintaining, and planting
  • Created a rich tapestry of community groups to participate in the project success, including the San Jacinto Master Gardeners, Texas Master Natural Naturalists (Livingston and Conroe), TBBU, and the Livingston Fishing Club (Hookers)
  • Began Community Outreach presentations for local schools, service organizations, and State Conference of Texas Master Naturalists

FoLL is on track to introduce 100,000 native American Water-willow plants, plus several other adapted species, into the lake over a 10-year period. These plants are non-invasive, fast growing and very hardy, known to colonize up to 10 square feet per plant within two to three years.

On September 13, 2017 former First Lady Laura Bush joined senior officials from Friends of Lake Livingston, Trinity River Authority, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to celebrate the ongoing restoration of Lake Livingston, Texas’ second largest lake. The event included a demonstration of American Water-willow (Justica americana) plantings in the lake by local high school students as part of the community-based efforts to foster aquatic habitat and revitalize this important natural resource.

FoLL is entirely volunteer-based and self-funded. Those interested in supporting their conservation mission can sponsor supplies and materials, such as potting soil, artificial fish habitats, seed trays, and grow tanks. Visit the FoLL website to donate and learn more.

Learn more about this project

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“Our Conservation Wrangler Program features the very best Texan-led conservation projects, like the Lake Livingston restoration we are celebrating today. As we’ve seen firsthand, collaborative partnerships for conservation yield great benefits — for our natural landscapes, native plants and wildlife, and for everyone involved.”

-Mrs. Laura Bush, Founder of Texan by Nature

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