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Bulldozers Imperil Wildlife

Endangered by bulldozers: Houston wildlife sanctuary in path of Bayou project gets Preservation Texas attention

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Hogg Bird Sanctuary bench at 1 Crestwood Drive
Private property overlooking a portion of the Hogg Bird Sanctuary. HAR.com
Memorial Park Demonstration Project map dated December 2013
Plans for the Memorial Park Demonstration Project as shown by the Harris County Flood Control District in December 2013. Harris County Flood Control District
Texas' most endangered places 2013 map
Preservation Texas' map showing 2014's most endangered places. PreservationTexas.org
Hogg Bird Sanctuary bench at 1 Crestwood Drive
Memorial Park Demonstration Project map dated December 2013
Texas' most endangered places 2013 map

A bird and wildlife refuge in Houston is now the 11th most endangered spot in the state, a designation announced just days before public comments were extended on a "restoration" project to bulldoze the area along Buffalo Bayou.

Hogg Bird Sancutary, as well as Camp Logan, are the latest "Texas Most Endangered Places" victims as determined by Preservation Texas officials. That news, delivered on the State Capitol steps Tuesday as part of the organization's 2014 Preservation Summit, came within 10 days of the time the initial public comment period on the Memorial Park Demonstration Project was set to expire on May 30.

The U.S. Corps of Engineers granted a 30-day extension to June 30 to "solicit comments from the public, governmental agencies and officials, and other interested parties."

 The flood control district completed a similar project along Cypress Creek in October 2006. About 10 more segments of Buffalo Bayou are candidates for similar design. 

The Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD), River Oaks Country Club and the city of Houston propose to jointly fund the $6 million project along Buffalo Bayou for 1.5 miles from the South Picnic Loop through the Hogg Bird Sanctuary. The targeted area, an official Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife paddling trail, is a State Antiquities Landmark and includes the remains of Camp Logan, one of the few remaining WWI military training camp sites in America.

According to the HCFCD, the Memorial Park Demonstration Project's purpose "is to restore Buffalo Bayou to a natural, stable condition by utilizing fluvial geomorphology design principles to preserve the bayou’s flood conveyance capacity, repair severe erosion on the banks of the bayou, stabilize the bayou’s banks, reduce sediment deposition and improve water quality within the bayou."

The flood control district completed a similar project along Cypress Creek in October 2006. About 10 more segments of Buffalo Bayou are candidates for similar design.

Kim Jackson with the Harris Country Flood Control District confirmed the extension of the public comment window.

“The 2014 list is a diverse group of sites that reflect the range of preservation issues that historic places throughout the state are confronting," Evan Thompson, executive director of Preservation Texas, said in a statement. "The sites are cultural, architectural and historic icons that are at imminent risk of disappearing from the landscape.

"Local grassroots organizations have been working tirelessly in support of these sites. By including them on the 2014 list, we hope to rally Texans statewide to step up and save them by supporting job-creating investments in our state’s at-risk historic places.”

Environmental groups have been protesting the Memorial Park project since last year. Endangered Species Media Project and the Houston Regional Group Sierra Club first hosted a public meeting to oppose the plan back on Sept. 11, 2013.

Opponents say the project will destroy hundreds of rare and native shade trees, vines and undergrowth in wide swathes up to 100 feet from the water's edge on both banks of the bayou — an ecologically important riparian habitat that cannot be replaced.

How To Act

All public comments about and requests for additional information about the Memorial Park Demonstration Project should reference file number SWG-2012-01007 and should be submitted to: Dwayne Johnson, Regulatory Branch, CESWG-PE-RB, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, P.O. Box 1229, Galveston 77553-1229.

Interested citizens may also reach Johnson at phone number 409-766-6353, FAX at 409-766-6301 and email, swg_public_notice@usace.army.mil.

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