Conservation Partner: Houston Wilderness

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  1. Conservation Partner: Houston Wilderness

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    Texan by Nature (TxN) is proud to partner with 100+ conservation organizations working to positively benefit Texas’ natural resources and communities through innovative approaches. TxN accelerates conservation by bringing conservation organizations and business together through programs that connect and convene diverse stakeholders and catalyze science-based conservation efforts and projects to accelerate impact.

    Learn more about TxN Conservation Partner, Houston Wilderness and how they are protecting, promoting, and preserving wild spaces in the greater Houston area. 

    Q: Tell us about Houston Wilderness and its mission. 

    A: Houston Wilderness works with a broad-based alliance of business, environmental and government interests to protect and promote the 10 diverse ecoregions of the 13+ county area around Houston, Galveston Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico, including coastal prairies, forests, wetlands, and waterways. In serving these areas, our mission is to protect, preserve, and promote the nature of these ecoregions.

     

    Q: What is the history of Houston Wilderness? 

    A: Since 2003, Houston Wilderness has initiated several different projects and programs to protect, preserve and promote our Houston and surrounding areas ecoregions. We have grown to include programs for monarch butterflies and reforestation efforts through the Port of Houston TREEs program. We’re also working with partners in monitoring wildlife around Houston through our RAWARC program- Regional Assessments of Wildlife Along Riparian Corridors. This has allowed us to get a view of the wildlife that uses our beloved Bayous and trails around Houston and has made for some really fun photography. 

    Q: How do you work to achieve your mission and who is your audience? 

    A: Collaboration has been key in getting the work done- everything from the landowners implementing butterfly gardens all over the State to the volunteers that help us get trees in the ground in our Houston Ship Channel T.R.E.E.S. program, we wouldn’t be able to complete all of the great work that we do without our partners. 

    Since the work we do affects all of the ecoregions around the state – our audience includes anyone who uses these green spaces in the ecoregions we service.

    Houston Wilderness connects people to the 10 ecoregions in multiple counties around Greater Houston through large-scale environmental policy initiatives, including facilitation of key programs including: 

    • 8-county Regional Conservation Plan: A long-term collaborative of environmental, business, and governmental entities working together to implement resilience plan for the Gulf-Houston region
    • Texas Monarch Flyway Strategy: A statewide effort to restore, increase and enhance Monarch habitat across four major regions in the state
    • Port of Houston TREES Program: A multi-year collaborative project focused on large-scale tree plantings along Lower Buffalo Bayou, Lower Brays Bayou, and 25 miles of the Houston Ship Channel. Use of our targeted Super Trees allows this project to be successful in carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services.
    • Collaborative Grant Organizing Program: Houston Wilderness works with multiple stakeholders and federal/state agencies on collaborative grant proposals and funded projects, often in “pioneering” areas of environmental planning and resilience in the Greater Gulf-Houston Region

    All of these programs ensure that relevant stakeholders are at the table and collaborative solutions are supported and implemented. 

    “Houston Wilderness is doing the work to help link so many hardworking stakeholders in ensuring the ecological health of our city and surrounding areas,” – Ana Tapia, Sr. Director of Environmental Programs. 

    Monarch butterfly moments after Houston Wilderness revamped and cleaned up the butterfly garden at the Houston Health Department.

    Q: What are some examples of your projects or programs?

    A: An example of our programs is our ongoing goal along with the City of Houston and multiple stakeholders to plant 4.6 millions trees by 2030! The Tree Strategy Implementation Group (TSIG) came together in early 2020 to create a strategy to accomplish the Resilient Houston

    Plan’s goal to plant 4.6 million new native trees by 2030. The 14 Native “Super Tree” species have been identified for their high levels of ecosystem services in air pollution and water absorption, carbon sequestration and tree canopy size. Those trees include: Live Oak, Boxelder, Laurel Oak, Red Maple, River Birch, American Elm, Slippery Elm, Tulip Tree, American Sycamore, Green Ash, Loblolly Pine, White Ash, Water Oak, Sweet Gum.

    The primary goal of large-scale native tree plantings, and reforestation is to create and/or restore multi-species forests at various sizes in areas that were traditionally forested in the region in order to provide critical ecosystem services to residents and wildlife. 

    The aforementioned RAWARC program has gained a lot of attention- especially through one of our partner’s Buffalo Bayou Partnership- their camera has caught a large variety of native Houston wildlife along the Bayou and made for some fun social media interactions. 

     

    Minyue Hu helps plant a rare Slippery Elm in Pasadena Memorial Park as part of an Eagle Scout project.

    Q: What are the ecological and economic benefits of your organization’s projects/programs?

    A:  Our Port of Houston TREES program tackles air pollution in Houston that’s known to pose an increased risk of asthma attacks and cardiac arrest according to researchers at the Houston Health Department, Houston Fire Department, Rice University, and Baylor College of Medicine. The planting of large-scale native trees provides high levels of air quality benefits, particularly when targeted in high health-risk areas such as the ones shown in the map below outlining our targeted areas. Our intention is always to put nature first as we help develop Best Management Practices to help increase ecological benefits of our programs. 

    Q: Tell us about the future of your organization. Do you have any upcoming initiatives, exciting events, or even challenges ahead? 

    A: Our Annual Luncheon celebrates the 10 ecoregions of Greater Gulf-Houston Region with area elected officials, stakeholders, interested parties and friends. Public officials from up to 15 different counties are invited to attend! 

    SHELL, Lionstone Investments, SMB Offshore, Bank of Texas along with other volunteers helped to plant 1,000 trees along Greens Bayou to help in mitigation of storm effects.

    Q: How can people get involved with and learn more about your organization? 

    A: Check out our website! We have all of our programs listed as well as ways you can contribute or volunteer. We also have an Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter where we post about upcoming events and tree plantings! 

    Additionally, Houston Wilderness has created three specialized versions of its Wilderness Passport

    The Wilderness Passport provides an accessible guide to visiting the natural world in the Houston area in the context of our local ecoregions. The Wilderness Passport lists state parks, wildlife refuges, museums, arboretums, and nature centers in each of our 7 land-based and 3 water-based ecoregions.

    Texan by Nature is proud to partner with 100+ conservation organizations across Texas. Through our Conservation Partner network, we connect conservation organizations with the resources and relationships they need to extend their initiatives’ impact. Partner benefits include on-going features on social media, monthly media round-up, quarterly meetings, aggregated resources on fundraising, marketing/social media, and more.

     

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