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Houston Regional Group - News - 2010
  in this section:
Volunteer News:
 club notes
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Conservation News:
 general conservation
 forestry
 transportation
 watershed management
 clean water & air
 habitat preservation
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Politcal News
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Bayou Banner
 Houston Group newsletters
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Archives

Feature Articles

Prairie Parkway Rears Its Ugly Head
On April 9, 2010, we began our investigation into the case of the "Prairie Parkway." We consisted of David and me, two Sierra Club members in love with the Katy Prairie and convinced this important international birding and wildlife spot must be saved.   (May 10) 

EPA Tells State 'Clean-Up Your Air Act!'
In one of the most encouraging moves in many years the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6 (EPA) told the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that it needs to strengthen its air permit program or lose its ability to issue permits. EPA is taking over the permitting for the Flint Hills Resources Corpus Christi refinery because as EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz said "The state is not following federal Clean Air Act requirements … The action we're taking today, together with the 40 objections, is unprecedented."  (Jul 10)


2010 News:

Volunteer News:

Club Notes

Bolivar/North Jetty Beach Clean-Up
Many thanks to the Sierrans who turned out for the North Jetty beach clean up on October 16. Volunteers included Phil Stern, Betty Korman, Dave Sokol, Rossana Daumas, Page Williams, George (didn’t get his last name), and Frank Blake. We had a gorgeous fall day, saw lots of dolphins on the ferry crossing, and there was a good show of fall wildflowers at the jetty. Phil even found a few wild watermelons growing near the parking lot.  (Dec 10) 

Columbia Bottomlands Trip Breezy Fun!!!
Talk about a great trip, the Sierra Club visit to the Columbia Bottomlands on October 23, 2010 was a naturalist's delight. Eight folks met with Mike Lange, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for a grand tour of two new tracts of land that were acquired to add to the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge to protect the important Columbia Bottomlands for migratory birds, waterfowl, and all types of wildlife. The Columbia Bottomlands is a unique coastal forest of Live Oak, Pecan, Shumard Oak, Burr Oak, Water Oak, Hackberry, Green Ash, and many other types of trees. The day was overcast, which kept the temperature down and we had a delightful breeze to cool us off!   (Dec 10) 

Sierra Club Finishes Mulching Barn Owl Woods Trail on Katy Prairie
On Thursday, May 28, 2010, the Houston Sierra Club completed its service project at Barn Owl Woods. It took three service days but the Sierra Club completed mulching the Barn Owl Woods Trail. The Barn Owl Woods Trail is open to birders, hikers, and other members of the public. The trail provides nature lovers a green, cool, woodlot on the Katy Prairie to enjoy. Barn Owl Woods is found on the Nelson Farms Preserve that the Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC) has acquired. The KPC manages Nelson Farms Preserve, Barn Owl Woods, and other areas for wildlife and the protection of a sustainable portion of the Katy Prairie.   (Jul 10) 

Big Thicket Weekend Is Hot Fun!!!
Getting a Sierra Club outing on the road is always the hardest thing to do. I picked up May Jane and we went to meet folks next to the Starbucks in Meyerland. As soon as we arrived Jane showed up. Then Nathan pulled in. I was really happy to see Nathan because he was someone I did not know, was not a Sierra Club member, and was interested in forests. Nathan is quiet spoken but definitely a guy who loves to get outdoors. Way to go Nathan!!! Then Bob and Carolyn arrived. Just as we were ready to roll, Lynn pulled in. As I suspected at the time and found out later we had a really great crew of seven.   (Jul 10)

Little Creek Provides Big Surprises
It was a slightly chilly Saturday morning. Jane picked me up at 7:15 am and we said goodbye to my partner, Lilibeth and took off for Meyerland Plaza. When we reached our rendezvous point David was already there and soon Taylor, Kristin, and Kelly arrived. In about an hour we pulled into the parking lot at Big Creek Scenic Area and picked up David. Five minutes later we parked and beginning our hike down to the bridge at Little Creek at Forest Road 217.  (Apr 10)

How You Can Volunteer for the Sierra Club
I am often asked by Sierra Club members how they can help the Sierra Club. They ask me, what can they do to help in the Sierra Club with the good works it does. I have a very simple answer.   (Mar 10)

Trail Maintenance Can Be Soooo Satisfying
I looked up at the sky. Cloudy. I remembered what the paper said, light showers this evening. I hoped it was true. Waiting at IHOP I hoped someone else other than me would show up for trail maintenance. Soon a familiar car pulled up. It was my old friend David. A few minutes later a new face to me arrived, Charlie. No other takers, so Charlie kindly allowed us to use his car and we loaded up and headed for Sam Houston National Forest and the Lone Star Hiking Trail on the Tarkington Section just northwest of Cleveland, Texas.  (Apr 10)

Bayou Banner Distribution Changes
Frequently we have been asked "Why can't I have my Bayou Banner delivered electronically, thereby reducing the cost of delivery and the amount of paper used?"  (Feb 10)  
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Conservation News:

General Conservation

New Report Shows How Outdoor Water Waste Can Be Reduced
The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation just released a report about how to reduce outdoor water use in Texas during the summer months. The report entitled "Sprayed Away: Seven Ways to Reduce Texas' Outdoor Water Use" focuses on how Texans can conserve our precious water during the dog days of summer. The report is available at http://www.texaswatermatters.org/outdoorwater.htm.  (Sep 10) 

Sierra Club Participates in Third Sam Houston Trail Coalition Meeting
The Houston Sierra Club (Sierra Club) attended and participated in the most recent meeting of the new Sam Houston Trails Coalition (SHTC) on May 22, 2010. (Jul 10)

Sierra Club Participating and Considering Membership in Possible Sam Houston Trail Coalition
The Houston Sierra Club has attended several meetings of the proposed Sam Houston Trails Coalition (SHTC). The idea has been advocated by the U.S. Forest Service (FS) as a way to obtain additional money from grantors to fund construction, operation, repair, and maintenance of off-highway vehicle (OHV), mountain bike, horse, and hiking trails in Sam Houston National Forest (SHNF). Other possible benefits of the SHTC could be better communication and coordination between different trail user groups, work on joint or individual trail projects, and the reduction in conflicts between different trail users and groups. (Jun 10)

Big Thicket Warrior Dies
Former U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson died on February 10, 2010 from a heart condition. Although affectionately and sometimes not so affectionately known as "Timber Charlie," and primarily known by the media for his actions on behalf of Afghanistan and his attraction for women, without his help there would be no Big Thicket National Preserve or wilderness in East Texas.  (Mar 10)
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Forestry

Sierra Club and Forest Service Resolve Upland Island Wilderness Fire Initiative Appeal
On June 25, 2010, the Houston Regional Group and Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club (Sierra Club) met with the U.S. Forest Service (FS) in Lufkin, Texas to discuss the Sierra Club’s appeal of the Upland Island Wilderness Fire Initiative (UIWFI). After discussion of the appeal both the Sierra Club and FS agreed to seven terms and conditions which will provide more protection to UIW during the proposed prescribed burn.    (Sep 10) 

Pyramid Magnolias Need Protection – How You Can Help
The Big Thicket of East Texas has been called the "Biological Crossroads of North America." Now you can help save some of that "diversity of life" by helping buy one of the last known sites of the rare Pyramid Magnolia (Magnolia pyramidata) in Texas. The "Flora of North America" says that this tree is "very local and nowhere abundant." Other scattered populations exist in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. The "Center for Plant Conservation" states that the Pyramid Magnolia is threatened but there is no formal conservation plan to protect the species. There are no Pyramid Magnolias protected in Big Thicket National Preserve.  (Jan 10)
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Transportation

Prairie Parkway Continued
The Sierra Club, upon further investigation, has found additional information about the proposed Prairie Parkway (PP). Contact with the Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC), our council of governments, resulted in the Sierra Club obtaining a study dated August 2009 entitled "Prairie Parkway Feasibility Study." Although labeled as a draft, the Sierra Club's understands that this study is final at this time.    (Jun 10).

Prairie Parkway Rears Its Ugly Head
On April 9, 2010, we began our investigation into the case of the "Prairie Parkway." We consisted of David and me, two Sierra Club members in love with the Katy Prairie and convinced this important international birding and wildlife spot must be saved.   (May 10)  
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Clean Water & Air

"Low-Level" - High Risk
To most of us living in Houston, the southeast corner of New Mexico seems far away. The greatcircle distance of almost 500 miles hides the fact that by some measures - political, economic, and physical - it is closer than we might want. The Waste Control Specialists (WCS) facility sits just inside the Texas-New Mexico line there. That facility is licensed to accept and store “low-level” radioactive waste.   (Dec 10)

Dirty Tar Sands Oil Pipeline Proposed for Houston and Texas
The United States State Department (SD) is weighing the issuance of a precedential permit that would allow TransCanada to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL), a 1,700 mile 36 inch dirty tar sands oil pipeline, from Alberta, Canada, just north of Edmonton, to Houston and Port Arthur, Texas. In order to access the dirty tar sands oil strip mining of beautiful boreal forest and construction and operation of toxic tailings ponds are required.  (Jul 10)

We Have to Find Another Way!
About three weeks before the catastrophic British Petroleum (BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico President Obama unveiled a proposal to lease, explore, and develop more offshore oil and gas on the Arctic, Mid Atlantic, and South Atlantic Coasts.  (Jul 10)

EPA Tells State 'Clean-Up Your Air Act!'
In one of the most encouraging moves in many years the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6 (EPA) told the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that it needs to strengthen its air permit program or lose its ability to issue permits. EPA is taking over the permitting for the Flint Hills Resources Corpus Christi refinery because as EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz said "The state is not following federal Clean Air Act requirements … The action we're taking today, together with the 40 objections, is unprecedented."  (Jul 10)

Sierra Club Lawsuit Results in Solar Power for Houston Area Schools
Several years ago the Sierra Club and Environment Texas sued Shell Oil Company because of the air pollution caused by an excessive number of upsets (unexpected releases of air pollution). The environmental groups settled the lawsuit with Shell via a negotiated settlement that included using $6 million for air pollution reduction projects as well as reducing upsets by 80% over three years. The fruits of that settlement (signed in 2009) are now being seen via the installation of over 800 solar panels at two Houston area high schools.   (Jul 10)

What Do You Want to Happen to Your Water, Rivers, Lakes, Wetlands, Wildlife Habitat, and Galveston Bay?
The Region H Water Planning Group (RHWPG) will hold three public hearings on the draft 2011 Region H Water Plan (RHWP). The Sierra Club needs your help at these hearings to protect your water, rivers, lakes, wetlands, wildlife habitat, and Galveston Bay.  (Mar 10)

EPA Public Hearing on Smog Standard Needs Your Presence and Input so We All Can Breathe Easier
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed tightening the health-based national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for ozone (smog). The EPA has proposed a stricter ozone standard (between 60 parts per billion (ppb) and 70 ppb, using three significant digits, averaged over eight hours) because research shows ozone is harmful to public health and welfare below the present standard of 75 ppb.    (Jan 10)

Habitat Preservation

Sierra Club Proposes Big Thicket General Management Plan Alternative - Letters Needed Now!!!
The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club has proposed an alternative for the Big Thicket National Preserve (BTNP) General Management Plan (GMP). The GMP is the document which will guide management of BTNP for the next 20 years. The National Park Service (NPS) is taking public comments on four alternatives, none of which the Sierra Club found acceptable.  (Dec 10) 

Corps Proposes Revised Grand Parkway Segment E Wetlands Permit
On August 9, 2010, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) released for public review and comment a revised Section 404 permit for dredge/fill of wetlands and waters of the United States for the proposed Harris County Toll Road Authority’s Grand Parkway, Segment E (GP), which will cross about 15 miles of the Katy Prairie.  (Nov 10) 

Sierra Club Appeals Federal District Court Decision on Grand Parkway, Segment E
The Houston Sierra Club has submitted a notice of intent to appeal to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal regarding the recent decision by Federal District Court Judge Sim Lake. Judge Lake ruled against the Sierra Club in all respects regarding the adequacy of the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Grand Parkway, Segment E (GP).   (Sep 10) 

Water Planning Group Drops Millican Dam from Draft Water Plan
The Region H Water Planning Group (RHWPG) met in July and made changes to the draft Region H Water Plan (RHWP) which included the elimination of the proposed Millican Dam (Panther Creek).    (Sep 10) 

Wetlands Destruction Permit Revision for Proposed Grand Parkway, Segment E, Toll Road, Needs Public Comments
Red Alert! Red Alert! Red Alert!   The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is requesting public comments on a proposed, revised, wetlands Section 404 permit (SWG-1997-02901 (Rev.) for the one-half billion dollar Grand Parkway, Segment E, Toll Road (U.S. 290 to I-10). This project will destroy wetlands on the Katy Prairie and would be built by Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA).   The Corps has only given two weeks for public comment! Your letter against this destructive project is needed now. Send your letter to the Corps via letter, fax, or email by August 24, 2010.     (Sep 10) 

District Meets Again About Coastal Protection
On June 1, 2010, the Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District (GCCPRD) met at the Galveston County Courthouse for its second meeting. The GCCPRD passed guidelines for public participation at this meeting. The Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC) suggested the public participation guidelines that were approved. The Sierra Club, Galveston Baykeeper, Galveston Bay Foundation, and others at the meeting had not heard about the existence of the HGAC guidelines before the meeting.    (Jul 10)

Sierra Club Attends First Meeting of Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District Meeting
On April 20, 2010, the first meeting of the Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District (GCCPRD) took place. The GCCPRD consists of the county judges from six Upper Texas Coast counties - Orange, Chambers, Jefferson, Brazoria, Galveston, and Harris. The GCCPRD was created to look at ways to provide surge protection remedies including the so-called Ike Dike.   (Jun 10) 

Neches River National Wildlife Refuge Finally A "GO"
The last challenge to the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge (NRNWR) was turned down by the U.S. Supreme Court thus verifying that the refuge is officially open for business.  (Apr 10)

Update About the Katy Prairie Protection Fight: Grand Parkway Segment E
The proposed Grand Parkway, Segment E (GP), continues to get a lot of press. First, the lawsuit that the Sierra Club filed against the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for an inadequate environmental analysis is moving forward. October 2009 deadlines were set for putting information into the record that will be used to decide the case and for all briefings on the issues.   (Feb 10) 

Katy Prairie Legal Fund Appeal and Challenge Grant
The Houston Sierra Club urgently needs your financial support to continue important legal actions to protect the Katy Prairie and the Cypress Creek watershed.    (Feb 10) 
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Political News:

District 7 has a Write-In
When Lissa Squiers discovered that there was no Democrat in the running for Representative of U. S. Congressional District 7, she was inspired to become a write-in candidate. Others running for that position are Republican John Culberson, who is the incumbent, and Libertarian Bob Townsend.  Write-in candidates do not appear often; the write-in voting challenge is so large that they get elected even less often.  (Oct 10) 
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Bayou Banner - Houston Regional Group newsletter (.pdf format Get Acrobat Reader): rss.gif (1202 bytes)

December 2010 / January 2011 - (1.0mb)  
Annual Auction
Executive Committee Elections
Big Thicket General Management Plan Alternative
"Low Level" - High Risk

November 2010 - (0.9mb)  
Train Wreck
Corps Proposes Revised Grand Parkway Segment E Wetlands Permit
Electric Car Presentation at U of H
ExCom Elections in December

October 2010 - (1.3mb)  
District 7 Has a Write-In
Meeting:  Endorsed Candidates
Writing Letters:  Help Stop the White Stallion Coal Plant

September 2010 - (0.7mb)  
Targeting Lake Houston Wilderness Park
Grand Parkway Segment E Public Comments Needed
Water Planning Group Drops Millican Dam From Draft Water Plan

July / August 2010 - (0.7mb)  
Sierra Club Participates in Third Sam Houston Trail Coalition Meeting
President Obama, say "NO" to the Tar Sands Oil Pipeline
Making "Take-Back" Work in Texas

June 2010 - (0.7mb)  
Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District First Meeting
Sierra Club Participating and Considering Membership In Possible Sam Houston Trail Coalition
Texas Bottle Bill 2011: Update

May 2010 - (0.7mb)  
Prairie Parkway Rears Its Ugly Head
The Push for National Park Wilderness - Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains
Yard Sale Fund Raiser

April 2010 - (0.6mb)  
Neches River National Wildlife Refuge
The Not-So-Dirty Truth: The Case for Compost
Katy Prairie Legal Fund Appeal and Challenge Grant Update

March 2010 - (0.6mb)  
Region H Water Planning Group public hearings
Katy Prairie Legal Fund Appeal and Challenge Grant
Big Thicket Warrior Dies

February 2010 - (0.6mb)  
Bayou Banner Distribution Changes
Update About Katy Prairie Protection Fight: Grand Parkway Segment E
Katy Prairie Legal Fund Appeal and Challenge Grant


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Last updated:  07/23/2011.   Content 1999-2011 by the Sierra Club.