Under Dark of Night

Bats! Superhero crime fighters, blood-sucking vampires, quirky animated characters, and quintessential fixtures of Halloween décor. These creatures of the night are thoroughly intertwined in American pop culture. Yet, these cultural characterizations often lead to misunderstanding, fear and certainly under appreciation.   Read on for 5 fascinating facts about how bats really are heroes of the night.

1. They Live Among Us

There are more than 1,300 species of bats worldwide, inhabiting nearly every part of the world except the most extreme deserts and polar regions. Ten species of bats call the Greater Houston Area home. They range from the more common Mexican Free-Tailed Bat, the official bat of Texas, which emerges on warm nights in masse from under bridges, to less common species like the Silver-haired bat, one of the slowest flying bats and a solitary forest dweller.

Learn about the various bats that can be found around Houston here.

2. Bats Have Very Few Natural Predators

Owls, hawks, and snakes will eat bats. However, the biggest threat to colonies is White-Nose Syndrome. Millions of bats have died from this disease since it was first identified in 2006. Named for the white fungus that grows on the muzzle and wing of hibernating bats, this disease causes bats to become overly active, including flying during the day. This extra activity burns up their fat reserves which are needed to survive the winter.  There is no cure for white-nose syndrome, but scientists are working to control the spread of the disease. White-nose syndrome can persist on clothing, shoes and hiking gear so, if you’re going to enter a cave, be sure to decontaminate first to prevent the spread of this deadly disease.  Decontamination procedures recommended by the National Parks Service can be viewed here.

3. Bats Are Pollinators

More than 300 species of fruit, including guavas, mangoes, bananas, peaches and avocados, and over 500 species of tropical flowers depend on nectar bats for pollination. The Mexican Long Tongued Bat, found in western Texas and throughout the Southwest and Mexico, is responsible for pollinating the iconic Saguaro cactus and the raw material for tequila, Agave plants.

Learn more about bats that pollinate here.

4. A Bat Can Eat Their Body Weight In Insects Every Night

Bats help control the insect population, and in our part of the world, that includes mosquitoes!  Feeding on moths, beetles and other flying insects, bats contribute an estimated $1.4 billion annually in insect control in the state of Texas.  Mexican-free tailed bats have been recorded flying up to 100 miles round trip in a night, reaching speeds up to 60 miles an hour and reaching heights of 10,000 feet when hunting for food. There aren’t many insects that can outmaneuver those flying skills.

Read the Texas Senate Resolution recognizing the Mexican free-tailed bat as
the Official Flying Mammal.

5. Bats Aren’t Blind

In fact, bats have excellent eyesight.  Their sensitive vision helps them see in the darkest of nights.  The common misconception that bats have poor vision likely comes from their renowned echolocation ability which allows them to hunt more efficiently at night and has no connection to blindness. So the old adage of being ‘blind as a bat’ doesn’t seem that bad, does it?


To learn more about habitats, behaviors and threats to bats living in urban areas, attend Our Neighborhood Bats, led by Urban Wildlife Biologist, Diana Foss from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Registration is required for this FREE lecture. For more information or to register, visit the Walk in the Woods website here.

For more information on programs offered by The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/environment

Know Better. Grow Better.

The 22nd Annual Woodlands Landscaping Solutions is a featured community event hosted by The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department. This year’s event boasts a new location, guest speakers, live music and a variety of exhibitors.

Join us and connect with experts in current landscaping and gardening methods, proven for this region. Topics covered include:

  • Lawn and garden care
  • Native plants
  • Vegetable gardening
  • Backyard composting
  • Drip irrigation
  • Identifying common garden insects
  • Attracting bees and butterflies to your yard
  • Collecting and storing rainwater
  • Growing plants from seeds or cuttings

Meet representatives from Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, North American Butterfly Association, The Heartwood Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists and other organizations.

What’s more, at Woodlands Landscaping Solutions attendees will find these great services:

  • Presentations on Home Pollinator Gardening with Lauren Simpson and Lawn Care with Tom Leroy
  • Montgomery County Master Gardeners available to answer your questions and diagnose specific problems in your garden
  • Free perennials, annuals and vouchers for native milkweed
  • For sale – native plants, rain barrels, compost and compost bins

And much more!

Enjoy live music by Andy McCarthy.  Bring the family and enjoy the garden friendly kid’s activity, grab a bite to eat from local food vendors, and shop the marketplace for plants, backyard birding supplies, gardening tools and garden-themed gifts.

Planning fall landscaping projects and spring gardens is easier with help from great resources–and you can find them at Woodlands Landscaping Solutions. When you know better, you can grow better!

Don’t miss it! Everyone is welcome to attend this FREE event!

Map of location.

For information, call The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department at 281-210-3800 or visit here for more event details

Mark your calendars!

The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department has a packed schedule this fall with something for everyone. Always wanted to grow your own vegetables or interested in what it takes to compost in your own backyard? Curious about the fascinating world of bugs, bats and birds? If you have been looking to learn more about reducing your water usage, adding native plants to your yard, or you’re ready to recycle the odds and ends around the house, then read on.

Invasive Species Task Force Volunteer Training
Saturday, August 10, 2019 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) 8801 Gosling Road

Learn how non-native plants are impacting our local ecosystem and what actions you can take to keep them at bay. Dr. Hans Landel from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will provide training on the identification and removal of invasive plants and the critical functions of native vegetation. Trained volunteers will be able to join the ongoing effort to tackle invasives in our area.

Free workshop. Registration required. Register here.


Fall Organic Vegetable Gardening Class
Saturday, August 24, 2019 from 9 a.m. to noon
The Woodlands Emergency Training Center (16135 IH-45 South)

Beginning and veteran gardeners alike will gain valuable information at this free, three-hour seminar. Learn about the latest gardening trends, soil preparation, planting techniques and the best plant varieties for the area. Join Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agents Emeritus (retired) Tom LeRoy and Bill Adams as they share their many years of vegetable gardening experience and expertise. Books authored by both Tom and Bill will be available. Montgomery County Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer your gardening questions.

Free class. Registration required. Register here.


Walk in the Woods Nature Lecture Series: Our Neighborhood Bats
Thursday, September 12, 2019 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) 8801 Gosling Road

Join this FREE lecture series, led by Diana Foss from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Diana will discuss habitats, behaviors and threats to bats living in urban areas. Come learn the benefits bats provide to The Woodlands and where you can observe bats year-round in the Houston area.

Free lecture. Registration required. Register here.


22nd Annual Woodlands Landscaping Solutions
Saturday, September 28, 2019 from 9 a.m. to noon
The Recreation Center at Rob Fleming Park

This event is FREE!

Don’t miss this year’s event at its new location—the Recreation Center at Rob Fleming Park. Learn from area gardening and landscaping experts at over 30 booths. Shop the marketplace. Pick up FREE plants at the Montgomery County Master Gardener’s pass-along plant booth.  Take a composting class. Guest speaker Lauren Simpson will present, “Gardening for Pollinators” and Tom LeRoy will present on “Lawn Care”. Enjoy live music by Andy McCarthy, kids’ activities and food vendors. See you there!

Visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/environment for more information.


Smarter Choices Seminar: Healthy Landscapes = Healthy Waterways
Saturday, October 5, 2019 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Woodlands Emergency Training Center (16135 IH-45 South)

Learn how simple steps can result in greener lawns and healthier waterways. Practical methods for maintaining your lawn and landscape, as well as alternatives to chemical use will be offered. 

Free workshop. Registration required. Register here


Walk in the Woods Nature Lecture Series: Vampires, Zombies and Body Snatchers
Thursday, October 10, 2019 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) 8801 Gosling Road

Join this FREE lecture series led by Megan McNairn from The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department. Megan will dive into the creepy crawly world of bugs where monsters come to life and ghoulish creatures go bump in the night.  

Free lecture. Registration required. Register here.


Pollinator Gardening
Saturday, October 26, 2019 from 9 a.m. to noon
The Woodlands Emergency Training Center (16135 IH-45 South)

Lauren Simpson, area pollinator gardening expert, will share her experience of creating her own suburban pollinator garden. Lauren will offer practical gardening tips, pollinator information and simple home garden design strategies. Pollinator gardening resources and research-based gardening information will be available. Montgomery County Master Gardeners will answer your gardening questions.

Class is free. Registration required. To register, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/environment


Backyard Composting Class
Saturday, November 2, 2019 from 10 to 11 a.m.
8203 Millennium Forest Drive

Learn how simple and easy it is to turn kitchen waste, yard trimmings and leaves into rich, handmade compost. Try out the variety of composting tools and equipment. Find out how compost benefits plants, gardens and lawns.
Our outdoor composting class is taught by certified, experienced Montgomery County Master Gardeners. Composting resources, problem-solving, trouble-shooting and tips are provided at each class. High-quality collapsible compost bins are available for purchase at a reduced price.

Free class. No registration required.


Drip Irrigation and Rainwater Harvesting Workshop
Saturday, November 2, 2019 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Woodlands Emergency Training Center (16135 IH-45 South)

Save water, time and money.  Hands-on training teaches you everything you need to know to set up a rainwater harvesting barrel in your yard and to convert automated sprinkler systems to water-efficient drip systems. Additional rainwater harvesting options, such as rain gardens, will be discussed.  Sign up for this water-saving workshop today!

Free workshop. Registration required. Register here.


3R Bazaar at The Woodlands Farmers Market
Saturday, November 9, 2019 from 8 a.m. to noon
The Woodlands Farmers Market at Grogan’s Mill (7 Switchbud Place)

Celebrate America Recycles Day and explore the 3R Bazaar at The Woodlands Farmer’s Market at Grogan’s Mill Explore the 3R Bazaar and discover opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle.  Shop from local artists featuring repurposed materials or create your own upcycled masterpiece.  Enjoy live music, kids’ activities and bring the following items to be recycled:

  • Batteries: Alkaline, AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V
  • Textiles: Overly worn clothing, shoes, linens and other unusable textiles
  • Oral care products: Toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and floss containers
  • Eyeglasses: Plastic and metal frames and cases
  • Document Shredding: $5 or 5 canned food donations to benefit Interfaith of The Woodlands Food Pantry

Free event. No registration required.


Walk in the Woods Nature Lectures Series: An Introduction to Birds of The Woodlands
Thursday, November 14, 2019 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) 8801 Gosling Road

Join this FREE lectures series led by Alisa Kline from Buffalo Bayou Park. Explore the vital role that birds play in our community’s ecosystem. Alisa offers tools and techniques for observing birds and behaviors and the benefits of documenting observations through iNaturalist.

Free lecture. Registration required. Register here.


Backyard Composting Class
Saturday, December 7, 2019 from 10 to 11 a.m.
8203 Millennium Forest Drive

Learn how simple and easy it is to turn kitchen waste, yard trimmings and leaves into rich, handmade compost. Try out the variety of composting tools and equipment. Find out how compost benefits plants, gardens and lawns.
Our outdoor composting class is taught by certified, experienced Montgomery County Master Gardeners. Composting resources, problem-solving, trouble-shooting and tips are provided at each class. High-quality collapsible compost bins are available for purchase at a reduced price.

Free class.  No registration required.


For more information on these events, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/environment or call 281-210-3800.

Start saving batteries for the Village Recycling Challenge!

3R Bazaar 2019: Reduce, Recharge, Recycle

Save your batteries - 3r bazaar blog

Power to the world’s most convenient, portable energy source: the battery. They come in all shapes and sizes and we couldn’t live without them. But their convenience comes at a cost. Did you know that batteries make up almost 20% of all household hazardous materials sent to landfills? This presents a problem as the elements a battery uses to create power – mercury, lead, cadmium, or nickel – leach out when the battery inevitably breaks down inside the landfill, potentially contaminating the surrounding water table.

Recycling batteries protects our water supply by keeping heavy metals at bay, while simultaneously saving resources.

Batteries – like numerous items – are recyclable, but not accepted at the sorting facility where our residential recycling ends up. To empower residents to recycle beyond our curbside carts, The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department has selected alkaline AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V Batteries for the annual Village Recycling Challenge held at the 3R Bazaar on Saturday, November 9, 8 a.m. to noon at The Woodlands Farmer’s Market.

If you don’t already have a stash of used batteries start saving them now! The village that collects the most will receive a donation to its scholarship fund from The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N.. Encourage neighbors, friends and family to save their batteries too. You can further support your village by helping collect and weigh incoming batteries  at 3R Bazaar; if you are interested in volunteering contact Environmental Services at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov.

 Can’t make it to 3R Bazaar? That’s ok! The Precinct 3 Recycling Center (1122 Pruitt Road in Spring) and Batteries Plus accept alkaline and rechargeable batteries all year. For a comprehensive list of where to take other oddities such as Styrofoam, electronics, lightbulbs, paints, pharmaceuticals, and more check out the Recycle More Guide.

Reduce by buying rechargeable! Rechargeable batteries cost more up front, but each rechargeable battery saves money in the long run, substituting for hundreds of single-use batteries. Rechargeables can also be recycled when they’ve outlived their usefulness, preventing unnecessary landfill usage and toxicity to the environment.

For more information about other items collected at the 3R Bazaar, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/3rbazaar.

Community unites to cleanup The Woodlands

 

GreenUp Results 2019 (1)

Sunshine, community pride and teamwork was the recipe for a record breaking GreenUp  

Families, neighbors, local businesses and organizations cleaned up greenbelts, roadsides and waterways at Earth Day GreenUp on Saturday, March 23. An astounding 1,077 participants waded through tall grass and forested thickets to remove 8,676 gallons of trash – the equivalent of 90 of our curbside carts. An additional 4lbs of cigarette butts were cleaned up out of our greenways and recycled with TerraCycle, protecting wildlife and preventing harmful toxins from leaching into groundwater. Construction debris such as metal poles and concrete, coolers, street signs, full pet waste bags, broken lawn furniture and tires were all pulled from The Woodlands’ greenbelts.

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Photo by Rod Prado of http://www.Hellowoodlands.com

The most common type of litter collected at GreenUp was single-use plastics including grocery bags, disposable cutlery and cups, fast food containers and straws. These highly abundant items are easily blown from parking lots, picnic areas and trash barrels into neighboring greenbelts.

So a simple way to cut down on litter is to reduce our use of disposable plastics to begin with.  Remember, when you’re on the go, BYO! Equip yourself with reusable alternatives – travel mugs, tote bags, reusable cutlery, and straws.

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Photo by Rod Prado of http://www.Hellowoodlands.com

The After Clean-Up-Your-Block Party

After cleaning up, participants joined the party at Northshore Park where they were treated to a pizza lunch and received an event t-shirt. Buck Yeager Band entertained with country favorites and original music as Mr. Cirque wowed crowds with his circus arts including juggling, globe walking and more!

Local organizations provided face painting, crafts, live animal demonstrations and environmental education. Exhibitors included All Nations Community SchoolBayou Land Conservancy, Citizens Climate Lobby, East Texas Herpetological Society, Friends of Texas Wildlife, H-GAC, Houston Spinstars, Let Them Drum, Plant for Pollinators,  Pure Mutts Animal Sanctuary, Spring Creek Nature Center, Targeting Mosquitoes, Waste Management

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Photo by Rod Prado of http://www.Hellowoodlands.com

GreenUp The Woodlands Year Round!

Consider recruiting a group and organizing your own cleanup anytime of the year. Contact The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov to borrow equipment. Please include your name, contact information, anticipated date, number of participants and proposed location.

Thank you for Greening Up with us

A special thank you to all participants, volunteers and sponsors that partnered with us to keep The Woodlands a beautiful place to live, rich in shades of green.

GreenUp Logo. Globe only

Earth Day GreenUp is hosted by The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department and was generously sponsored by Waste Management, Keep Texas Beautiful, Berkeley Services, Woodlands Joint Power Agency, H-E-B, Howard Hughes Corporation, The Woodlands GREEN, Papa John’s Pizza and Nature’s Way Resources.

Be part of the community-wide cleanup this Saturday!

Celebrating its ninth year, The Woodlands Township’s Earth Day GreenUp brings the community together to beautify our parks, pathways, greenbelts, and waterways. It’s not too late to lend a helping hand this Saturday, March 23, joining with hundreds of others in the original #trashtagchallenge!

GreenUP Participants

The Woodlands Rowing Club and their haul of litter, pulled from Lake Woodlands at Earth Day GreenUp 2018

Simply show up at one of the eight participating parks between 8 and 10 a.m. to register and pickup supplies:

  • Alden Bridge: Alden Bridge Park, 7725 Alden Bridge Drive
  • Cochran’s Crossing: Shadowbend Park, 4995 Lake Woodlands Drive
  • College Park: Harper’s Landing Park, 2 N. Blair Bridge Drive
  • Creekside Park: Rob Fleming Aquatic Center, 6535 Creekside Forest Drive
  • Grogan’s Mill: Sawmill Park, 2200 Millpark Drive
  • Indian Springs: Falconwing Park, 5610 Rush Haven Drive
  • Panther Creek: Ridgewood Park, 4192 Interfaith Way
  • Sterling Ridge: Cranebrook Park, 11800 Cranebrook Drive

PLEASE NOTE: All minors will need a parent/legal guardian to sign the waiver to participate – print one here to bring to the check-in location if a child will be volunteering with a group separate from their parent/legal guardian.

All can join the after-party at Northshore Park from 11am to 1pm!

After the clean-up, gather for live music, entertainment, and pizza! Clean-up participants can claim their t-shirt and free slice of Papa John’s pizza. Everyone can enjoy the Buck Yeager Band and entertainment by Mr. Cirque the Acrobat.

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Weather Note

Periodic rain showers are forecasted for Saturday. The event will be held rain or shine. In the event of lightning, we ask that volunteers remain in their vehicle or the park pavilion until it passes. Should severe weather cause a cancellation we will notify all volunteers via email as well as the event page on The Township website and the Township Parks and Recreation Facebook page.  

Click here for more information or contact Environmental Services at 281-210-3800 or enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Thank you to our sponsors: Keep Texas Beautiful, Waste Management, Berkeley Services, HEB, The Woodlands Joint Powers Agency (WJPA), Nature’s Way Resources, The Howard Hughes Corporation, The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. and Papa John’s!

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Green fun for the whole family

Check-In, Cleanup...

Participate in The Woodlands Township community-wide litter cleanup event, Earth Day GreenUp on Saturday, March 23, 2019!

This event is fun for the whole family and an excellent opportunity for team building, meeting neighbors and enjoying the outdoors. Join us in targeting litter on pathways, along waterways, and in greenbelts to keep our community looking clean and green!

GREEN STARTS WITH ME! 2019

 

Help GreenUp Your Community in 5 Simple Steps

  1. Check-in at a designated park near you.
  2. Receive trash bags, gloves, and instructions.
  3. Cleanup litter along a nearby pathway, park or natural area.
  4. Drop off full bags of litter along the pickup route (a map will be provided at check-in).
  5. Head to Northshore Park for the GreenUp Celebration 11 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Join us for live music by the Buck Yeager band, entertainment by Mr. Cirque the Acrobat and games for the whole family. As honored guests, Clean-up Participants receive free pizza, drinks, and 2019 GreenUp T-shirt. Everyone is welcome to share in the Celebration – pizza and drinks are also available for purchase.

Pre-register by Monday, March 11th for a speedy check-in and to ensure equipment for your group. Walk up registration is welcome between 8 and 10 at one of these parks.

Be prepared for cleanup by wearing appropriate clothing – long pants and closed-toe shoes/boots. Remember hats, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and a reusable water bottle – we will have a refilling station at the celebration!

Thank you to our sponsors: Keep Texas Beautiful, Waste Management, Berkeley Services, HEB, The Woodlands Joint Powers Agency (WJPA), Nature’s Way Resources, The Howard Hughes Corporation, The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. and Papa John’s!

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The Woodlands Earth Day GreenUp is coordinated by The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department. For more information, call 281-210-3800 or email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov.

Save the date!

Saturday, March 23

Pre-registration is open

GreenUp Logo. Globe only

Join neighbors, family, and friends at Earth Day GreenUp on March 23, 2019. Volunteer to beautify our community by picking up litter on pathways, waterways, and greenbelts. After your hard work, celebrate at Northshore Park with free pizza, face painting, live music, and an event t-shirt. Together, residents keep The Woodlands beautiful and protect natural areas for wildlife by helping in this community stewardship project.

GreenUp invites everyone to take ownership of our environment. Recruit or join a group of your peers – you may find that you’ll meet neighbors and create new friends while enjoying the outdoors. Disposable gloves, bags and maps will be provided during check-in at a designated park in each Village.  Remember to bring a reusable bottle and your favorite work gloves to minimize waste. Ensure equipment for your team by pre-registering by March 11th. See the box below for registration information.

GreenUP Celebrations

The GreenUP celebration is fun for all and begins at 11 a.m. at Northshore Park.

After the cleanup, the entire community is invited to celebrate in the spirit of Earth Day with food, fun and live music for all ages at Northshore Park, 2505 Lake Woodlands Drive. Local organizations will present fun activities and information on how you can make everyday Earth Day. Learn and play games that will teach you that “green starts with me.”

Volunteers will receive a commemorative T-shirt and be treated to pizza. Beverages will be available, but remember to bring your own water bottle. Food tickets will be on sale to the general public.

Key Information

Pre-register: Through Monday, March 11 at  www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/greenup

Check-in:  Saturday, March 23, 8 to 10 a.m. at a location near you.
Walk-ups welcome. Check-in locations:

  • Alden Bridge: Alden Bridge Park
  • Cochran’s Crossing: Shadowbend Park
  • College Park: Harper’s Landing Park
  • Creekside Park: Rob Fleming Aquatic Center
  • Grogan’s Mill: Sawmill Park
  • Indian Springs: Falconwing Park
  • Panther Creek: Ridgewood Park
  • Sterling Ridge: Cranebrook Park

GreenUp:  8:30 to 11 a.m.

Celebrate: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Northshore Park

More Info:  Call Environmental Services at 281-210-3800

 

In celebration of trees

It’s undeniable. There seems to be a universal human response to the majesty of trees. Trees do us a lot of good and not all their benefits are visible by the eye. These benefits are often grouped by their social, environmental, and economic qualities.

(Be sure to see the upcoming Township events that pay tribute to trees listed below.)

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Social benefits

One might say that trees help make us happier. They provide a sense of place and when we are in their presence, we feel serene and peaceful. Trees’ calming effects extend to the workplace, where trees can reduce worker stress. It’s also been cited that trees can decrease recovery time after surgery or illness and reduce crime in urban communities. A large, mature tree imparts a sense of majesty, strength, and even awe. This and their capacity for a long life may be why they are so often planted as living memorials to those we love and have lost.

The oldest verified flowering tree is a 2,293 year-old Sri Maha Bodhi Sacred Fig. It is also the oldest human-planted tree, known to be planted in 288 BC at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.

People are drawn to shaded parks, pathways, and sidewalks, which in turn encourages social interaction and enhances a sense of community.

Environmental benefits

Trees improve the environment by moderating our climate from sun, wind, and rain. Sun is absorbed or deflected by leaves and the larger the tree, the greater its cooling effect. In urban environments, trees moderate the heating effect caused by pavement and buildings. Compact foliage and dense tree plantings provide an effective windbreak. Rain and stormwater runoff is not only slowed by trees, but is reduced by the water trees take up by their roots and store.

Improved air quality is another great benefit—leaves filter the air we breathe by removing particulates and pollutants (such as ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead) and replace them with oxygen. They absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. Trees are natural air conditioners that can lower temperatures 6 to 8 degrees by evaporating water through their leaves. Their roots stabilize soil and prevent erosion, and improve water quality by filtering rainwater.

Trees can block and absorb sound, reducing noise pollution by as much as 40%.

Finally, trees provide important food and shelter for urban wildlife, including birds, pollinators, and small animals.

Economic benefits

Although determining a “value” of a tree can be very difficult, trees increase in value as they grow. The value of trees is also evident in home sales: homes landscaped with trees sell more quickly and are worth 5% to 15% more than homes without trees. When trees are planted strategically to shade a home, air conditioning costs are lower. And when they form a windbreak they can reduce heating costs in winter.

Native trees

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The native Mexican Plum, Prunus mexicana, has a spectacular spring display that is a feast for the eyes and pollinators as well.

There is a wealth of native trees to use for landscapes in our area. The benefits of native trees are many and can include colorful spring blooms, fall color, or food and nectar for wildlife. Natives are well-adapted to our weather conditions and soil, and once established, require no supplemental water (except for times of extreme drought).

View and print the list of Trees Suitable for The Woodlands. This list is far from exhaustive, but meant to provide a good sampling of those that can be found at local nurseries and provide special benefits.

Upcoming events

Mark your calendar for these events that each in their own way, celebrate trees.

Arbor Day Tree Seedling Pickup
The Howard Hughes Corporation® is excited to host the Arbor Day Tree Seedling Pickup on Saturday, January 26, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hughes Landing®. This year, more than 44,000 tree seedlings will be handed out, representing nine varieties including Bald Cypress, Laurel Oak, Live Oak, Loblolly Pine, Overcup Oak, River Birch, Sawtooth Oak, Silky Dogwood and Water Oak.

2019 Community Tree Planting
The community will come together to keep the woods in The Woodlands at the fifth annual Village Tree Planting event Saturday, February 9, 2019, from 8 a.m. to noon at Spindle Tree Ponds Park in the Village of Sterling Ridge. Volunteers of all ages are called upon to help reforest our community. Register now!

Creating Habitat in the Garden and Community
Saturday, February 2, 2019 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Woodlands Emergency Training Center. This free seminar will address how wildlife has been impacted by growth and why home and community habitats matter. Learn how to create habitat for butterflies, bees and birds and help them thrive. Register now!

Helpful resources

Visit the International Society of Arboriculture for loads of great information about trees. View and print their useful guides for planting and caring for trees:

New Tree Planting

Proper Mulching Techniques

Pruning Mature Trees

Insect and Disease Problems

The power of numbers

What do you get when a bunch of Woodlands residents join forces with 3R Bazaar and recycle? Tons of fun. And TONS of material for recycling, diverting it from landfills. Over six and a half tons, to be precise.

Over 13,358 pounds of recyclable items were collected at the 2018 3R Bazaar last month.

Over 800 Woodlands residents braved the chilly weather to reduce, reuse, and recycle at this year’s 3R Bazaar on November 10th, 2018. A big, warm “Thanks!” goes out to  everyone who attended this event at its new location, The Woodlands Farmer’s Market. Attendance and participation this year was record-breaking!

Lorax and drums

Let Them Drum joined forces with Waste Management and The Lorax to sound off for recycling.

And another huge “Thanks!” goes out to the team of volunteers who helped empower visitors with knowledge and tips for recycling successfully in our community.

The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department would also like to thank  the generosity of its sponsors: Waste Management, Gullo Dealerships, Southern Shred and WJPA.

Take a look at what was collected:

3R Bazaar Collection graphic

In addition to this, $1,226.21 and 551 pounds of canned food items were collected for the Interfaith Food Pantry.

The Village Challenge battery collection resulted in a total of  $4,600 donated to the Villages’ scholarship funds by The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. through the generosity of HEB, WJPA and Woodlands Development Company.

3R bags

Reusable bags are a shopping essential. Remember to bring your own when you shop.

A tip for the new year…

By properly disposing of and keeping batteries out of the landfill, we prevent toxins from leaching into the surrounding water table. Consider investing in rechargeable batteries. They may cost more initially, but each rechargeable battery can substitute for hundreds of single-use batteries. Rechargeables can also be recycled when they’ve outlived their usefulness, preventing unnecessary landfill usage and toxicity to the environment.

Didn’t make it to 3R Bazaar? That’s ok! The Precinct 3 Recycling Center (1122 Pruitt Road in Spring), Home Depot, Lowes, Batteries Plus, Best Buy, and some Walmarts accept batteries all year. Call ahead for specifics and possible fees.

 

Megan Atom and Taylor

Festival mascots reminded the crowd to recycle cans, minimize use of single-use shopping bags, and keep plastic wrap and tanglers out of the recycle bin. Instead, recycle them at your grocery store along with plastic bags.

For a comprehensive list of local recycling opportunities of other oddities such as electronics, light bulbs, paints, pharmaceuticals, and more check out the Recycle More Guide.

Live music, shopping, and fun!

Enjoy it all at 3R Bazaar this Saturday at
The Woodlands Farmer’s Market at Grogan’s Mill.

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Saturday, November 10
8 a.m. to noon

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Reduce, reuse, recycle, recharge, repair, recover, reimagine, refuse – however you choose, the opportunities to divert waste from our landfills are infinite. Find out how at 3R Bazaar.

Discover artwork created by local artists using up-cycled materials.

Purchase treasures made from recycled or sustainable materials.

Kids can contribute to a plastic cap collage with The Woodlands Children’s Museum.

Create a “coollage” with eco-impressionist, Grant Manier.

Stage a super selfie with the Polymer Princess and Canned Crusader.

Recycling services on site

Bring items listed below for free recycling and learn how you can improve your current recycling routine at home by reducing contamination and helping to keep recycling strong. This year’s Village Challenge features the collection of Alkaline Batteries AA, AAA, C, D and 9 volt ONLY. Each village will receive scholarship funds based on the amount collected.

Alkaline Batteries
AA, AAA, C, D and 9 volt ONLY
NO rechargeable; NO lead-acid

Textiles
Unusable condition

Eyeglasses
Prescription and reading glasses, sunglasses
Plastic and metal frames; cases

Oral Care Products
Collected by Girl Scout Cadette Troop 11953
Used toothbrushes, empty toothpaste tubes, and floss containers

Secure document shredding on site

Boxed or bagged personal documents
Residential only
Please donate 5 cans of food or $5 per box to benefit Interfaith Food Pantry

For more information or inquiries about being involved in next year’s event, please visit the 3R Bazaar page on the Township website or call 281-210-3800.

Fascinating snakes

Herpetophobia is the morbid fear of snakes. While they may provoke phobia in some, snakes are amazing animals with some pretty striking (please pardon the pun) attributes. Check out the list of some of them below. And for a closer look at the more common snake species in our area (yes, live specimens will be there for the viewing), attend the next week’s Walk in the Woods Nature Lecture.

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Nathan Wells will present, Snakes of The Woodlands
Thursday, November 8th, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Recreation Center at Rob Fleming Park
Registration is required.

Where you’ll find them…

Snakes can live in almost any environment, ranging from jungles and deserts to lakes and mountains. They live everywhere on Earth except Ireland, Iceland, New Zealand, and the North and South Poles.

There is an island in Brazil known as the Snake Island that arguably has the highest occurrence of snakes in the world. It’s estimated that there is one snake every 11 square feet.

The most common snake in North America is the garter snake.

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Garter snake

They come in all sizes…

The smallest snake is the thread snake that lives on the island of Barbados. It is about 4 inches long and “thin as spaghetti.” The longest snake is the reticulated python which can reach over 33 feet long. And the heaviest snake in the world is the anaconda, weighing over 595 pounds.

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Green tree python

Eating habits…

All snakes are strictly carnivorous. Depending on their size, however, their prey differs considerably. The smallest snakes feed on insects, snails, and mice while the largest snakes kill and eat anything from an antelope, pig and even a jaguar.

Most snakes need to eat only six to 30 meals a year to stay healthy.

To keep from choking on large prey, a snake will push the end of its trachea, or windpipe, out of its mouth, similar to the way a snorkel works.

Snakes don’t lap up water like mammals do. Instead, they dunk their snouts underwater and use their throats to pump in water.

Some snakes have over 200 teeth. The teeth aren’t used to chew—they point backwards to prevent prey from escaping the snake’s throat. And only venomous snakes have fangs.

Snake biology…

Most species of snakes lay eggs, and some species are ovoviviparous (they retain the eggs within their bodies until they are ready to hatch), but it was recently found out, that several species (such as the boa constrictor and the green anaconda) are fully viviparous (giving live births).

Snakes are completely covered with scales—even their eyes. Instead of eyelids, they have a brille, which is a transparent, disc-shaped, immobile scale that covers the eye for protection.

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Scales completely cover a snake, including its eyes

While snakes don’t have external ears, or eardrums, their skin, muscles and bones carry sound vibrations to the inner ears.

To accommodate their narrow bodies, snakes’ paired organs (such as kidneys) appear one in front of the other, instead of side by side.

Pit vipers, pythons, and some boas have infrared-sensitive receptors in deep grooves on the snout, which allows them to “see” the radiated heat of warm-blooded prey.

Snakes have one of the highest occurrences of polycephaly—a rare condition of having more than one head. There have been many cases of two-headed snakes. The heads might fight each other for food.

Species with super-powers…

The brahminy blind snake is the only snake species made up of solely females. It’s also the most widespread terrestrial snake in the world.

The death adder has the fastest strike of any snake in the world. It can attack, inject venom, and return to striking position in under 0.15 seconds.

There is a genus commonly known as the flying (or gliding) snakes. Native to Southeast Asia, these snakes are capable of gliding over distances as great as 330 feet through the air. Watch the video below to see how they do it.

The muscles that cause a rattlesnake´s rattle to shake are some of the fastest known, firing 50 times per second on average, sustained for up to 3 hours.

The black mamba is the world’s fastest snake. It’s found in East Africa and can reach speed up to 12 miles per hour.

Rethink waste at 3R Bazaar

Reduce, reuse, recycle, recharge, repair, recover, reimagine, refuse – however you choose, the opportunities to divert waste from our landfills are infinite. Join The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department in celebrating America Recycles Day 2018 at the 3R Bazaar, this year at its new location, The Woodlands Farmer’s Market at Grogan’s Mill. Enjoy live music, locally sourced foods, shopping and fun for the whole family on November 10 from 8 a.m. to noon.

3R Bazaar

Recycle

Bring items listed below for free recycling and learn how you can improve your current recycling routine at home by reducing contamination and helping to keep recycling strong. This year’s Village Challenge features the collection of Alkaline Batteries AA, AAA, C, D and 9 volt ONLY. Each village will receive scholarship funds based on the amount collected.

On-site Recycling

Alkaline Batteries
AA, AAA, C, D and 9 volt ONLY
NO rechargeable; NO lead-acid

Textiles
Unusable condition

Eyeglasses
Prescription and reading glasses, sunglasses
Plastic and metal frames; cases

Oral Care Products
Collected by Girl Scout Cadette Troop 11953
Used toothbrushes, empty toothpaste tubes, and floss containers

On-site Secure Document Shredding

Boxed or bagged personal documents
Residential only
Donate 5 cans of food or $5 per box to benefit Interfaith Food Pantry

 Shop

Receive an exclusive reusable tote to shop the market and say goodbye to single-use plastic bags. Remember to return your used plastic bags, wrap and film to the grocery store to be recycled – never put them in your curbside recycle cart. Purchase treasures made from recycled or sustainable materials at the award-winning Buy Recycled Boutique hosted by The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N and discover artwork created by local artists using up-cycled materials.

Reimagine

Rethink waste when you contribute to a plastic cap collage with The Woodlands Children’s Museum or create a “coollage” with eco-impressionist, Grant Manier. Join forces with the Super Recyclers, The Woodlands’ Recycling Squad, to fight contamination or stage a super selfie with the Polymer Princess and Canned Crusader.

Volunteer

Sign up to volunteer at 3R Bazaar. Volunteers make a significant contribution to Township events. Consider being part of the 3R Bazaar volunteer team.

The 3R Bazaar is a free event brought to you by The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department with sponsorship from Waste Management, Gullo Dealerships, The Woodlands Joint Powers Agency (WJPA), Southern Shred, and The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N.

For more information or inquiries about being involved in next year’s event, please visit the 3R Bazaar page on the Township website or call 281-210-3800.

The way of the future: sustainable landscapes

Community resilience. Sustainable landscapes. These terms are becoming more commonplace and heard more often. Why? Because our collective and growing knowledge and experience tells us that global climate change is the impetus for increased catastrophic weather events.

What do these terms mean, exactly?

Taken one at a time, community resilience is the ability to anticipate risk, limit impact, and bounce back rapidly through survival, adaptability, evolution, and growth in the face of turbulent change, as defined by the Community and Regional Resilience Institute.

Turbulent change can include severe threats such as sea level rise, hurricanes, wildfires, drought, economic down-turns, social unrest, and other disruptions.

Environmental threats make up just one component—though significant—to the whole of turbulence that impacts resiliency, and designing landscapes that are sustainable is one way to help manage them.

The American Society of Landscape Architects defines sustainable landscapes best: “Sustainable landscapes are responsive to the environment, re-generative, and can actively contribute to the development of healthy communities. Sustainable landscapes sequester carbon, clean the air and water, increase energy efficiency, restore habitats, and create value through significant economic, social and, environmental benefits.”

It’s worth noting too, that a sustainable landscape is designed to be both attractive and to require minimal resources in terms of cost and ongoing maintenance.

Attend The Woodlands Township’s upcoming event:

Walk in the Woods Nature Lecture Series 

Thursday, October 11
6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
at HARC, 8801 Gosling Rd, The Woodlands
Lisa Gonzalez, President and CEO of HARC, will present:

Working with Nature to Build Resilient Communities

Registration is required.

A sustainable landscape can include:

  • Reduction of stormwater run-off through the use of bio-swales, rain gardens and green roofs and walls
  • Reduction of water use in landscapes through design of water-wise garden techniques (sometimes known as xeriscaping)
  • Bio-filtering of wastes through constructed wetlands
  • Landscape irrigation using water from showers and sinks (known as gray water)
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques for pest control
  • Creating and enhancing wildlife habitat in urban environments
  • Energy-efficient landscape design in the form of proper placement and selection of shade trees and creation of wind breaks
  • Permeable paving materials to reduce stormwater run-off and allow rain water to infiltrate into the ground and replenish groundwater rather than run into surface water
  • Use of sustainably harvested wood, composite wood products for decking and other landscape projects, as well as use of plastic lumber
  • Recycling of products, such as glass, rubber from tires and other materials to create landscape products such as paving stones, mulch and other materials
  • Soil management techniques, including composting kitchen and yard wastes, to maintain and enhance healthy soil that supports a diversity of soil life
  • Integration and adoption of renewable energy, including solar-powered landscape lighting

That’s a lot. Let’s take a closer look at just two aspects of a sustainable landscape.

FIRST: Enhancing wildlife habitat.  Habitat loss, and the corresponding loss of biodiversity, can be curbed when we connect properties into networks of attractive, wildlife-friendly neighborhoods, cities, and regions. Starting with the home landscape, fragmented habitats can be rewoven together, creating spaces that are not only healthier for wildlife but also for people.

Watch this informative, short (4-minute) video produced by American Society of Landscape Architects, Designing Neighborhoods for People and Wildlife.

 

 

SECOND: Reduction of stormwater run-off.  In many communities, rain water flows into combined stormwater and sewer systems, which channel both sewage and rainwater together through underground pipes to central treatment facilities. Storms can quickly overrun these combined systems, leading to flooding with pollutant-laden water and even backed up sewage.

Watch this informative, short (4-minute) video produced by American Society of Landscape Architects, Leveraging the Landscape to Manage Water.

 

When these approaches are viewed with a wide scope and on a large scale, the potential impacts of sustainable landscaping are pretty powerful. At the same time, it’s important to recognize that change often starts on a small scale. And there might be no better place to start than in your own back yard.

For further reading, that’s as fun to read as it is informative, get Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Doug Tallamy, Timber Press, 2009.