Improving the Quality of Life for Residents and Business in the Greens Bayou Watershed
Greens Bayou meanders approximately forty-five miles throughout Harris County. The watershed covers about 212-square miles and includes four primary streams: Greens Bayou, Halls Bayou, Garners Bayou, and Reinhardt Bayou. There are about 308-miles of open streams, including primary streams and tributary channels. The estimated population within the Greens Bayou watershed is over 500,000.
Greens Bayou Corridor Coalition grew out of a joint task force organized in 2002 under the North Houston Association and North Houston District to address flooding in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Allison. The Greens Bayou Task Force worked with Harris County Flood Control and other area stakeholders to develop the Greens Bayou Mid-Reach Plan, a series of basins and about 11-miles of channel improvements planned to reduce flooding in north Houston. A member of the original task force, Joe Wozny, proposed that the group form a non-profit and expand its focus to development within the entirety of the Greens Bayou watershed.
The Coalition was recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization in December 2007 to address improvements that will affect the quality of life for the residents living along the bayou through flood mitigation, development of parks and trails, preservation of green space, enhancing water quality, and economic development. With strong commitment from a base of volunteers, the groundwork was prepared for identifying priorities throughout the watershed.
In March 2009, an executive director was hired to develop a plan for implementation of volunteers’ plans. In 2011, with a Houston Endowment grant, a development director was hired. The Coalition received grants from the National Parks Service and the Houston Endowment to undertake a master planning process. Approximately 200 projects have been identified through this process. Reach committees have prioritized projects and many are underway now.
Volunteer projects on the bayou have been underway since Fall of 2010. All four reaches now hold regular events to plant trees, clean the bayou, build trails, remove invasive species plants, kayak and other community events. GBC has built strong partnerships with corporations whose employees participate in cleanups such as REI Co-Op and LyondellBassell Industries.
In 2014 GBC began its first community program, Kayaking for Kids. The program takes inner city youth on certified instructor led kayaking trips on Greens Bayou. The program has grown to approximately 84 participants in 2017 including home school students, CE King High School students, the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program, the Houston Zoo and North Shore Middle School.
The Coalition has begun to receive recognition. H-GAC’s Parks and Natural Areas Committee recognized The Coalition with the planning award for its work in designing Ida Gaye Gardens, a park for senior citizens. The park also received the Mayor’s Proud Partner Award in 2011. North Houston Association selected The Coalition as its 2010 Environmental Award recipient. In 2014 Thomas Bell Foster Park in our South Reach received Keep Houston Beautiful’s Mayor’s Proud Partner Award.
Our organization has a robust policy effort and in 2015 secured funding for the Federal Flood Damage Reduction Project on Greens Bayou. Add this $55 million infrastructure investment to the two Mid-Reach projects that also begin construction in 2015 and about $120 million in projects will be underway.
IAlthough the GBCC is a young organization many successes have been achieved. The potential for future success and impact on the community is limited only by the visions and desires of the community that calls Greens Bayou home.