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Explore, Enjoy and Protect

Houston Regional Group - News
Spring Creek Greenway – The Real Thing
Brandt Mannchen

I was just about ready to go when Carolyn pulled up. I told her it was good to see her and helped her put her hiking gear in the trunk of my car (I should cleanout my car sometime!) and then off we went. This was an unusual Forest Walk. Instead of most people meeting me near the Starbucks in Meyerland Plaza, The Woodlands area Sierrans would be waiting for me at the Spring Creek Greenway Nature Center in Montgomery County (1300 Riley Fuzzel Road) to begin the hike. It was after all, their backyard.

I was pleasantly surprised with the interest shown in the hike. Even though about 4 or 5 people had to cancel there were eight people who were going to meet at the nature center. This was particularly impressive since September had been incredibly hot.

The Spring Creek Greenway is the brainchild of Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Eversole and Montgomery County Precinct 3 Commissioner Ed Chance. The goal is to protect 12,000 to 15,000 acres along Spring Creek for 33 linear miles. The Bayou Land Conservancy, a land trust, would have conservation easements on most of the properties to provide further protection for the land in perpetuity.

It took Carolyn and I about 45 minutes to drive to the nature center. We visited the displays inside and then I sat outside on a shaded bench and watched the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds dive-bomb the feeders and avoid aggressive red wasps. With the severe drought we are having hummingbirds are finding it hard to find the food they need to sustain their incredible whirling lifestyle. Al Barr, naturalist with the nature center explained this to us while we waited for the other folks to arrive.

Soon Barbie showed up. I was puzzled because at least five others had said they would come but I saw no signs of them. After waiting a few more minutes we headed out on the trail. As we walked I talked to Barbie and Carolyn about some of the trees and vines we were seeing. As we hiked we noted that a number of Water Oak, Cherrybark Oak, Hackberry, American Hornbeam, and Eastern Hop Hornbeam were dying. The longer this drought lasts the greater the number of trees that will died. This is ad but also provides an opportunity for those trees and other plants that live to take advantage and improve their position in the forest.

Surprise of surprises we suddenly met the other five people who were supposed to meet us at the nature center. They had arrived and been drawn to the trail immediately and hoped to run into us as we walked. Now that we were united the entire group strolled along through the woods enjoying the fresh air and the hint of a breeze that kept the air moving. Our destination was Spring Creek and the hiking trails that meandered through the park. When we reached Spring Creek we stopped to admire and talk about the beautiful white sands that had been deposited along the shore. A Great Egret floated through the air as we walked down the creek. Soon we wondered north away from the creek and followed old woods roads. We soon came to a pond which was being kept full by a water pump. We then completed our loop and came out back at the nature center.

We all sat down and had a nice, shaded, lunch. We continued to watch the bird feeders and enjoyed cooling off. The group of five had to leave to get back to their respective homes to accomplish chores. However, Barbie, Carolyn and I headed to Pundt Park, in Harris County, about four miles away for some more hiking. Pundt Park is a part of the Spring Creek Greenway and also has Spring Creek winding its way on its northern borders. The day was turning hotter so we decided to do about a two mile loop that followed Spring Creek and call it a day.

When we got down to Spring Creek, via the Oxbow Trail, we could not resist visiting the cool mirage we saw. Carolyn took off her shoes and waded ankle deep in the cool waters and herded fish we saw ahead of her. We also saw a flock of White Ibis circle above and then fly over us and a Kingfisher perch on a log at the creek edge.

Unfortunately, that’s when we heard to noise. It was coming from downstream and in a few minutes two all-terrain vehicles and one utility vehicle came roaring up the stream, in the water, and then fled across the beautiful sandy beach right past us. This of course is illegal and destroys Spring Creek’s aquatic habitats. We watched as the roar disappeared and were saddened with disgust.

It was getting much hotter now so we hiked and then took a water break. At the oxbow we sat partially shaded on a bench and talked about how beautiful the day had been. Suddenly, literally out of nowhere a crow-sized Pileated Woodpecker flow over our heads and landed on a pine tree about twenty feet away. All of us were speechless and excited beyond words. We slowly worked our way to the side of the pine tree but then the “Lord God Almighty” bird flew across the oxbow and disappeared in the forest.

It was time to head back so we returned to the nature center and saw Barbie off. Carolyn and I went inside and talked to Terry, the nature center manager, about the illegal off-road vehicle users. She lamented that budget cuts had reduced patrols on weekends when such illegal actions occurred the most.

It was now about 2:30 pm and it was time to leave this bit of heaven and get back to the big city. It had truly been a wonderful trip and we all were happy for our good fortune and secretly promised ourselves that we would come back.

November 2011

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Last updated:  11/21/2011.   Content 1999-2011 by the Sierra Club.