Standing Room Only

Mountain bikers & tree lovers flood meetings to try and save the Anthills from destruction

Mountain bikers & tree lovers flood meetings to try and save the Anthills from destruction

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The Anthills, a dirt bike course in Terry Hershey Park, is one of the areas in danger of being turned into a detention pond.  Photo by The Rooster
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The Charting Buffalo report is over 300 pages long. Peruse the sections that affect you, and give feedback on what you like and don't like.  Photo via Charting Buffalo
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The Harris County Flood Control District owns the land that makes up Terry Hershey Park.  Photo by Andy Pancroft
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We've all seen the damaging and costly effects of heavy rains on Houston's roadways and signature bayous. The Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) is researching options for combating those problems in the future. 

This week, the HCFCD released Charting Buffalo, a collaborative study addressing possibilities for flood damage reduction along Buffalo and White Oak Bayous. The comprehensive draft report spans more than 300 pages, with hundreds of maps and diagrams outlining potential plots for detention basins along the 39 miles of Houston's bayous, from the Barker Reservoir at Highway 6 in the west to the Houston Ship Channel Turning Basin to the east. 

It is long, and it is by no means final.

 "I've received some sweet letters from some Girl Scouts," Mike Talbott, director of the HCFCD, told the crowd, "and some not-so-sweet letters from, perhaps, some of you." 

Even so, the report faced a number of opponents even before a community input meeting at Tracey Gee Community Center. So many, in fact, that the center was packed to capacity, and the HCFCD chose to conduct two crowded, back-to-back presentations where it had only planned to hold one. 

Opposition included members of the Greater Houston Off-Road Biking Association, who turned out en masse, and super neighborhood group Save Our Trees, whose supporters passed out flyers, solicited petition signatures and showed maps of the proposed detention ponds along the banks of the bayou. 

"I've received some sweet letters from some Girl Scouts," Mike Talbott, director of the HCFCD, told the crowd, "and some not-so-sweet letters from, perhaps, some of you." 

Both groups have a stake in Terry Hershey Park, a beloved destination for hiking and mountain biking (at the Anthills), so they're willing to brave the traffic, the crowds and the cold to speak up.

Representatives from the HCFCD explained that the document — which takes into consideration more than 20 reviews conducted by other researchers — should not be read as a construction plan, but rather as a synthesized list of options and an outline for future action. 

So this is only the first step in the process. If so inclined, you have plenty of opportunities to make your opinions heard, virtually or physically (community meetings take place throughout the month of February), before April 1.

Find the Charting Buffalo draft report online here, and give feedback here. Flood Control District officials say that public responses will be taken into consideration and will be published in the final report, due out in mid-2012.