City of Houston Acquires New Buffalo Bayou Parkland
HOUSTON, TX, 12/4/2008: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Houston Parks and Recreation Department today celebrated securing new parkland for the City of Houston along Japhet Creek and Buffalo Bayou for the Buffalo Bayou Greenways. U.S. Congressman Gene Green (D-29) and Houston Parks and Recreation Department Director Joe Turner spoke at an event commemorating the acquisition, which will bring Houston’s East End communities additional greenspace and a connection to other public land along Buffalo Bayou.
With the leadership of U.S. Representative Gene Green (D-29), an appropriation was secured from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) for the acquisition of the parkland for the City of Houston. The Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Mike Garver, and Houston Endowment, Inc. contributed matching funds for the purchase. The Houston Parks and Recreation Department will manage the new parkland for the City of Houston.
Buffalo Bayou has been a lasting symbol of Houston’s rich history since the Allen Brothers traveled this waterway to found our great city in 1836,” said Cong. Gene Green, who secured nearly $1.2 million in federal appropriations for the Buffalo Bayou greenways. “This dedication is a significant step in our efforts to preserve Buffalo Bayou for generations to come, and the lands preserved today bring much-needed green space to Houston’s East End.”
“The Buffalo Bayou Greenways are a great example of how private and public sectors can work together for the common good,” said Turner. “As the stewards of the City’s parkland we are pleased with this addition to our department’s inventory and with our partnership with The Trust for Public Land and the Buffalo Bayou Partnership.”
“Houston’s East End is underserved by existing park resources, and the Buffalo Bayou Greenways will begin to change that,” said TPL vice president and regional director, Cynthia Whiteford. “The greenways make a tremendous impact as an historically industrial area transforms into a diverse and dynamic community. This project also represents a prime example of an innovative public-private partnership that leverages funding to produce conservation results.
To protect the site, TPL’s real estate and finance experts acquired the land from private landowners and worked with Buffalo Bayou Partnership, a non-profit organization charged with coordinating beautification and redevelopment activities along Buffalo Bayou. The new parkland is included in the Buffalo Bayou and Beyond master plan as green space and one of the “green fingers,” the expanded portions of the bayou that reach into surrounding neighborhoods establishing green links.
“These greenways and green fingers are an integral part of our 20-year master plan,” said Buffalo Bayou Partnership President Anne Olson. “In dozens of community meetings, East End residents and stakeholders have expressed the need for more open space, particularly space that can be used for science and educational programs for area children. The acquisitions along Japhet Creek represent the first ‘green finger’ along Buffalo Bayou, bringing access to the Bayou further into the heart of East End communities.”
As one of downtown Houston’s historic waterways, Buffalo Bayou stretches for 75 miles across Harris County. It flows through residential areas, Memorial Park, downtown Houston and the Houston Ship Channel before it joins the San Jacinto River, which empties into Galveston Bay. These greenways will provide a critical connection along Buffalo Bayou and into East End communities.
“NOAA has been pleased to support the implementation of the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program since its creation by Congress in 2002,” said David Kennedy, Director of NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. “Through the efforts of all the project partners, these critical acres along Japhet Creek will be preserved for the benefit of Texas’s coastal zone and enjoyed by present and future generations.”
The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2.5 million acres of land in 46 states. In Texas, TPL has protected more than 35,000 acres for communities, including areas in and around Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. TPL’s Galveston Bay Land Conservation Initiative is supported with funding from the Galveston Bay Estuary Program and local foundations.
Buffalo Bayou Partnership is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that oversees Buffalo Bayou improvements, incorporating conservation and development into every project. The Partnership also coordinates the integration of major amenities into the Bayou greenbelt and seeks ways to increase community involvement through pedestrian, boating and biking amenities, permanent and temporary art installations, and other natural and built attractions. The Buffalo Bayou Partnership along with The City of Houston, Harris County, and Harris County Flood Control District recently unveiled a 20-year plan to redevelop Buffalo Bayou into a pedestrian-oriented waterfront district.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) provides a critical tool to respond to the mounting pressures on our coasts and to protect the most sensitive coastal areas. Since its inception, the CELCP program has invested over $200 million to protect more than 40,000 acres in 27 of the 35 coastal states and territories. This federal investment has leveraged at least an equal amount in non-federal matching funds.
The Houston Parks and Recreation Department oversees the management and stewardship of the city’s 350 developed parks and green spaces totaling over 38,945.42 acres. The department actively works to create partnerships with nonprofit groups to steward and preserve parkland and greenspace for the citizens of Houston. For more information on the Houston Parks and Recreation Department visit www.houstonparks.org.