Building the Bayou Greenways: Conservation and Maintenance

In a series of blog posts throughout the year, we will highlight the progress made along Houston’s Bayou Greenways as part of the Houston Parks Board’s Kinder Foundation-supported Bayou Greenways 2020 project. This post focuses on the Parks Board’s Bayou Greenways-related conservation and maintenance efforts.

By the end of next year, 150 miles of trails will weave through 3,000 acres of Greater Houston’s greenspace, connecting residents to nature and each other. The Houston Parks Board has spent the past five years designing and constructing this network of trails which comprises the Bayou Greenways 2020 initiative.

But the work does not stop when the last trail is christened. The Houston Parks Board has and will continue to invest significant resources toward routine maintenance and conservation, ensuring the highest standard of safety, beauty and ecological integrity of the trails and bayou system’s riparian zones.

Between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, the Bayou Greenways system grew by nearly 300 acres and 24 miles of trails. During that same time period, according to their recently published 2019 maintenance and conservation report, the Houston Parks Board:

  • Maintained 2,255 total acres (an increase of 288 acres, or 15%, from last year);
  • Maintained 88 total trail miles (an increase of 24 miles, or 36% from last year);
  • Picked up more than 230 dump truck loads of litter and debris from the ground and water’s edge (a 40% decrease from last year);
  • Mowed almost 350 acres of turf, and edged roughly 163 miles of trails, sidewalks, street curbs, walls and fences every 10 days during the growing season;
  • Abated/removed approximately 1,100 instances of graffiti, (nearly 200 fewer than last year. Especially impressive considering the 24 miles of new trails added);
  • Replaced damaged signs, benches and receptacles as needed;
  • Repaired trails in need of improvement and rehabilitated bridges as needed; and
  • Cleaned up trails from eight separate minor flood events.

The organization also increased its conservation efforts, which have always functioned to ensure the  Bayou Greenways and their wildlife habitats are enhanced and protected, improve the aesthetics of Houston’s bayous, spread awareness of the natural environment through environmental education, and provide opportunities to engage the public along the bayou by hosting events and volunteer programs.

One such program is made possible in partnership with the Student Conservation Association, a private group which fields local conservation programs in Houston. Funded by a $25,000 grant provided by the Kinder Foundation and matched by the Houston Parks Board out of its own operating budget, this program engages students in lower income schools along Halls, Lower Greens and White Oak Bayous to beautify and maintain stretches of the greenways. Groups have helped eradicate invasive plants and make sites more accessible to park and trial users, all while engaging with the Bayou Greenways system in a more meaningful way.

While the Houston Parks Board leads the charge in preserving and protecting our bayou greenways, the work could not get done as effectively without its dedicated volunteers. The parks belong to all of us, and as such, Houstonians are invited to play their part in maintaining thriving parks for everyone. Learn more about how you can get involved here.