We need your help! Once again, the Texas State Legislature is trying to block Galveston, Port Aransas, South Padre Island and many Texas cities from reducing litter and plastic bag use by outlawing local bag fee legislation. The proposed state bill would overturn the hard-fought ordinances and prevent future ordinances which strive to protect the Texas environment by reducing litter from single-use plastic bags and other containers. Galveston Baykeeper stands with our coastal communities and other who seek to prevent plastic pollution.
Senate Bill 103 states that "a municipality may not adopt or enforce an ordinance or regulation that purports to restrict or prohibit a business from, require a business to charge a customer for, or tax or impose penalties on a business for providing to a customer at the point of sale a bag or other container made from any material." This proposed law ignores the fact that bag bans and fees work and have proven to significantly reduce plastic bag usage and litter in places all over the country including towns in Texas, California, and Washington DC.
We cannot let the plastic bag industry pass this ridiculous bill to preempt our local laws, so please take action now! Contact your state Senators and Representatives today and ask them to oppose Senate Bill 103!
As the EPA under Pruitt begins to reconsider the WOTUS rule and organizations such as GBK and the Waterkeeper Alliance work to assure that changes in jurisdiction will not result in losses for water quality, it is important to understand the perspectives of all sides in the debate. The article below, from PBS, is a thoughtful analysis of why farmers and ranchers may think the WOTUS rule went to far. It also considers the perspective s of supporters of the rule. This controversy is going to be with us for awhile, and no matter the outcome, the limits of CWA jurisdiction will not be immediately settled. If you love and appreciate rivers, bayous and wetlands, it is worth a read.
This morning on Fox 26 news Jackie Young of THEA and Bruce Bodson of Galveston Baykeeper talked about the hazard posed to the Bay and area residents by abandoned disposal pits containing dioxin wastes.
The following article was written by Jen Powis, a member of GBK's board of directors. Much of the expressed purpose of the Ike Dike is to protect the petrochemical infrastructure from storm surge and to protect us from releases from that infrastructure. Ms. Powis' editorial explores whether we should be using public funds and accepting environmental impacts from major construction along the coast when more limited development, funded directly by industry could achieve the objectives at a lower cost to the public and reduced environmental impacts. Take a moment and read it!
For those of you who appreciate the Galveston Bay ecosystem, remember that the Galveston Bay Estuary Plan is in revision. The second public workshop will be on March 1. Try to attend and give your input in support of a healthy Bay!
Galveston Baykeeper and the Christmas bay Foundation will be at Christmas Bay on February 18 to participate on Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's abandoned crab trap removal program. We will be joined by the Brazoria county Search and Rescue team, providing airboats and other craft to cover as much of the bay as possible.
To further benefit the environment, we will also eat feral hog chili, after the work is done. Come on out and enjoy a nice day on the water and do something good for the Bay.
For all of our friends who are passionate about protecting and improving the natural environment here in the Greater Houston Area, I encourage you all to register for the Saving Planet Houston Series. There are three classes being held on Wednesday evenings, the 8th, 15th, and 22nd of February and optional field trips on Saturday the 25th. You can register for any or all of the classes. On the 22nd, you can hear GBK's own Dr. John Jacob on saving Houston's wetlands.
Folks 'N Oysters on December 30, was a great success. We enjoyed an evening of oysters from Prestige Oyster, raw or grilled by David Popkin, beer provided by Saint Arnold's Brewing Company, wine from our own Martin and Vaness Hamilton, and an array of gumbo, sliders and oyster tacos from Liberty Kitchen. All of this was accompanied by music from the Anhinga Band. We announced Bruce Bodson as our new Executive Director/Baykeeper, and had a talk about organization mission for 2017. We kept that business stuff to a minimum so we could all get back to the oysters! We also want to say a special thank you to John and Leticia Jacob for hosting this event in their lovely home. How many board members let you bring all your river rat friends over for an evening? If you missed it, you'll have another chance to join us next year!
For those of you signed up, remember to join us this evening at 6:00 for Folks 'N Oysters! For those of you were unable to make it, remember you can still donate to Galveston Baykeeper's work to protect Galveston Bay and the watershed that feeds it.
December 27 was the Old River CBC, and as we have done for the last several years, a group of us set off into the morning fog to see what birds we could see and count them. Our crew consisted of. from left to right Dave Portz, Harmon Everett, and Christie Long, of the Houston canoe Club, and Bruce Bodson, of Galveston Baykeeper. Our route included Pickett's Bayou, The Cutoff, and Old River, going from Trinity River NWR, to FM 1409 in Old River-Winfree.
It was a warm foggy morning, which made the cypress look eerie, but kept the alligators comfortable enough to appear.
The birds were a bit elusive in the morning fog and the species mix was a bit surprising, with dozens of lingering tree swallows, and a large contingent of golden-crowned kinglets. Both species of cormorant were present along with a large number of anhingas. We also saw osprey, good numbers of wood ducks, a smattering of herons and egrets, and the usual winter residents. Altogether, we saw 43 species, which is a bit light for this count. The count as a whole will probably approach 150 species.
This area is as close to wilderness as we get around Houston, so boat management skills occasionally become as important as birding.
Note that Harmon is actually in the river instead of the boat.
We made it to FM 1409 with daylight to spare.
We covered about 14 miles in about 7.5 hours, including a lunch stop. It was a lovely day on the water, only marred by having to tiptoe around some rotting feral hog carcasses at the take out.
I'm not sure why boat launches and carcass disposal seem to go together, but they certainly do at Old River. I was told that the launch is actually considerably cleaned up from a couple of weeks ago.
Remember, there is still time to sign up for the San Jacinto Wilderness CBC, on January 1. Fifteen miles of Peach Creek, Caney Creek and the East Fork of the San Jacinto will help you work off your oysters from Folks 'N Oysters, and get right on that New Year's Resolution to exercise more!