Walk in the Woods fall series takes off

Join the fun on September 13th for the fall’s first lecture and get a close-up look at some fascinating birds. The folks at Wildlife Revealed will present Birds of Prey and thrill the audience with a flight demonstration featuring vultures, hawks, falcons and owls. Enjoy an evening outdoors at the Amphitheater at the Recreation Center at Rob Fleming Park and get ready to be amazed.

Birds of Prey

Bottom row, left to right: American Kestrel; Red-shouldered Hawk; Black Vulture; Eastern Screech Owl.

Birds of prey, also known as raptors, include several species of bird that are carnivorous. They embody the seemingly opposing qualities of both grace and power—their very name comes from the Latin word rapere, meaning to seize or take by force. While many birds are carnivorous, the raptors are set apart by their:

  • Keen eyesight
  • Powerful, curved talons
  • Hooked beaks

Yet all raptors are not created equal. Each type of raptor has its very own unique features:

Vultures.  They almost always have featherless heads, which help reduce infection when feeding on carrion, their usual diet.

Hawks. There’s a reason they are the root of the saying, “Watch like a hawk.” Their vision is eight times greater than our own.

Eagles. These guys are BIG with a wingspan ranging from six to eight feet.  And their nests are no small matter either. They can measure up to six feet wide and weigh 100 pounds.

Falcons. Falcons are easy to differentiate from other hawks by the distinct stripes below their eyes. They are the most acrobatic of the raptors and can fly at incredible speeds.

The Peregrine Falcon is the world’s fastest bird, flying a whopping 240 miles an hour.

Kites. They appear falcon-like, but have distinctive tails that, like their wings, are long and pointed.

Owls. These nocturnal predators have eyes that are fixed in their sockets—in order to take in their surroundings they have to turn their heads. And most can up to 270 degrees.

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Make this a great night out and join the fun.

Walk in the Woods, Birds of Prey

September 13, 2018
6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Recreation Center Amphitheater at Rob Fleming Park

This event is free.
Registration is required.

Rob Fleming Amphitheater

To learn more about Houston-area birds including raptors, download Houston Audubon Society’s Common Birds of Houston guide.

Learn more about owls at Houston Audubon Society’s Owl Prowls.

To see the full fall line-up for Walk in the Woods lecture series, view and print the event flyer. To register for this event, click the Register Here link on the event details page of The Woodlands Township website.

trash pick upThere will be no interruption or delay of services over the Labor Day holiday. Waste Management will provide curbside pick-up of trash, recycling, and yard trimmings to all residents on their regularly scheduled service day, including Monday, September 3, 2018.

Simple Recycling will also provide curbside textile recycling with no service interruption.

Solid waste services in the community will occur as usual over the Labor Day holiday.

If your holiday celebration generates more trash than the 96-gallon trash cart can hold, extra service tags are available for purchase for $1.75 each at Township offices, Kroger and Randalls.  One pink service tag should be affixed to each plastic bag of household trash that will NOT fit into the trash cart.

The Montgomery County Precinct 3 Recycling facility will be closed on Monday, September 3. The Woodlands Recycling Center on Research Forest Drive is open every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. regardless of holidays.

As always, the only holidays that affect residential trash and recycling collection are New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

For more information about trash and recycling services, visit the Recycling and Solid Waste page on the website. To report missed pick-ups, please call Waste Management Customer Service at 800-800-5804. 

Growing your own builds strong bodies and minds

The health benefits of vegetables are many, not the least of which is that they are important sources of nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C. Take the health benefits a step further and grow your own. When you grow your own veggies organically, the nutritional payoff is even higher (not to mention you ensure that no chemicals are being ingested with your zucchini).

Organic fruits and vegetables deliver between
20 and 40 percent higher antioxidant activity, according to a 2014 study published in British Journal of Nutrition.

And don’t forget another important health benefit to growing your own: Working an hour in the garden tending your harvest provides exercise benefits equal to a 30-minute jog.

Soul food

Did you know growing your own is also good for your soul?  “What?” you ask? Well, yes. A 2016 meta-analysis has shown a link between gardening and increased mental health. Getting your hands in the dirt brings you in contact with mycobacterium vaccae, a bacterium found in soil that may stimulate the production of serotonin—one of our “feel good” hormones. Gardening also opens your mind to nature:  bird song and insect sounds; colors and textures of plants; cloud patterns; changes in weather; soft breezes. All this good stuff has been found to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce depression and lower anxiety
  • Increase focus and mindfulness
  • Inspire a sense of awe
  • Create a sense of hope and purpose

Get started on your own vegetable garden

daniel-cunningham-sq-3Learn more about growing your own vegetables this weekend.  Join Daniel Cunningham, Texas A&M Water University horticulturist as he shares his knowledge in our Fall Vegetable Gardening Class on Saturday, August 25, 2018.  Daniel will offer strategies for overcoming the challenges of vegetable gardening in our humid and hot southeast Texas climate.  Learn when to plant and which vegetables grow best in the fall gardening season.  Find out how to reduce your water footprint.  Gather information on ways to conserve and protect our natural resources.

Learn more about growing your own vegetables in Saturday’s class.

Bring your gardening questions and plant problems.  Montgomery County Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer your questions with proven information.

Grow Your Own Vegetables is a free class; however, space is limited and registration is required.

Grow Your Own Vegetables Class
Saturday, August 25, 2018
9 a.m. to noon
The Woodlands Emergency Training Center
16135 I-45 South, The Woodlands, TX 77385

For more information about this class and to register, visit the Event Details page on the website.

Every drop counts

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The news is the same everywhere: growing populations require more water, and the supply is limited. Add the changing climate to the mix and we can bank on more frequent and persistent periods of drought. Finding new water sources and ways to supply that water are too often economically out of reach. All this is driving more cities and municipalities across the country to move beyond temporary drought measures and adopt permanent changes to how available water is used.

Some of the more common policies, such as prohibiting washing driveways or vehicles at your home, banning water runoff from your yard, and even outlawing irrigation altogether are challenging some communities with change.

Home irrigation is the number one contributing factor to water waste.

Irrigation is the water-hog at homes across America. Not only is it the biggest use of our water supply, studies show that most homeowners over-water landscapes by as much as two to three times the amount needed.

Water Use Pie Chart

Did you know? According to USGS, when you consider water use in all sectors nationwide–not just residential–irrigation is among the top three. A full 24% of all the water used across America is to water our landscapes, third only to the entire public supply (30.5%) and all industrial use (27.6%).

Currently, in The Woodlands, the Woodlands Joint Powers Agency (WJPA) and the 10 Municipal Utility Districts it represents, require residents to follow the Defined Irrigation Schedule. Even numbered houses can water Wednesday and Saturday only, and odd numbered houses are limited to Tuesday and Friday. All homes must irrigate between the hours of  8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. only. Remember: Starting mid-October, residents are encouraged to turn off irrigation systems through mid-April. There are no plans to discontinue the Defined Irrigation Schedule, at this time, and it will continue indefinitely.

There is good news…The Woodlands residents have embraced this policy and have made a big impact on water conservation. Two white papers, published by National Wildlife Federation and Sierra Club, have praised The Woodlands and its residents for exemplary work in water conservation. The Woodlands has also received several coveted state awards for water conservation. Nice going!

Since the inception of the irrigation schedule policy, The Woodlands residents have saved approximately
10 billion gallons of water.

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For more information, visit the Water Conservation page of The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department website at www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/waterconservation .

3R Bazaar 2018: Reduce Recharge, Recycle

3R Bazaar is on Saturday, November 10, 8:00 a.m. – noon at The Woodlands Farmer’s Market

save your batteries

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. They keep things going in our hospitals and military operations; and at home in our electronics and children’s toys.

Did you know? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, each year, Americans throw away more than 86,000 tons of single-use alkaline batteries. And all those batteries make up about 20% of all household hazardous materials in America’s landfills.

Batteries contain two common elements that combine to create power: an electrolyte and a heavy metal such as mercury, lead, cadmium, or nickel. As batteries break down in landfills, they leach mercury and other toxins, and these pollutants can eventually make their way into the surrounding water table.

In the spirit of targeting hazardous items, 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 10, 8 a.m.-noon at its new location The Woodlands Farmer’s Market.

Recycling batteries saves resources and keeps heavy metals out of landfills and water.

And keep in mind: Rechargeable batteries may cost more up front, 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.

If your stash of used batteries runneth over, or if you’ve just started your collection, support your village by bringing Alkaline AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V Batteries to the 3R Bazaar for the Village Recycling Challenge. The village that collects the most will receive a donation to its scholarship fund from The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. So get your neighbors involved. As in the past, each Village provides volunteers to assist with collection at 3R Bazaar.

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

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

Weigh the options for mosquito prevention responsibly

Are you ready to go all out with a backyard pest prevention plan? Before you drop a bunch of cash, consider this…

Searching for help controlling mosquitoes in your backyard yields plenty of available services and products. To help you wade through the sometimes confusing information, we’ve culled the key points to know about mosquito prevention.

Mosquito graphic A

The concept in the above illustration is shown simply, but its message is clear…

     …the most effective way to manage mosquitoes is by         managing their breeding sites.

And the experts* at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M University, and Texas Tech University agree, “The first step in any mosquito control effort is to find and eliminate the mosquito breeding sites from your backyard.”

So, for no to very little cost and the few minutes each week it would take to walk your property to find and remove standing water, you can provide the most effective mosquito prevention to safeguard your family. Nice.

What about other considerations, in addition to eliminating breeding sites? Which home mosquito control methods are most effective? Which have potentially harmful side effects to our environment? Take a look at the chart below for a comparative look at some of the options.

Mosquito graphic B

*Merchant, Swiger, and Presley; Do-It-Yourself Backyard Mosquito Control, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

For more information about mosquitoes and their prevention, visit the Mosquito Control page of the Environmental Services section of The Woodlands Township website.

Orange is the new green

 

Thanks to the Township’s Simple Recycling program

Fashion trends may come and go and when they do, your pile of last season’s cast-offs mount. Conscientious citizens donate these to their favorite charity for a shot at a new life with a new owner. But what to do if your used stuff isn’t up to snuff?

Bypass the landfill and turn your old rags into re-usable textile fibers that just might turn into next season’s must-haves.

Just fill a Simple Recycling orange bag with worn clothes, towels, and bedding—no matter the condition—and they will make this happen. The service is, well, simple to use and takes just three simple steps (see below). When you use it, you help the environment by…

…minimizing landfill footprint

They may be a necessary evil, but landfills are lousy for the environment and a burden to taxpayers. Making room for our trash is expensive—never mind the loss of land set aside for this purpose.

Did you know? In the past year alone, residents of The Woodlands have diverted 85 tons of textiles from the landfill through Simple Recycling.

reducing greenhouse gasses

A landfill is a hotbed of methane and carbon dioxide. According to the EPA, each makes up about half a landfill’s total emissions. Decomposing textiles in them contribute to the level of methane—the most significant contributor to global warming.

Did you know? Every 2000 lbs. of clothing that is kept out of the landfill has the same environmental impact as removing 2 cars from the road. Those 85 tons Woodlands residents diverted from the landfill? That amounts to taking 170 cars off the road.

…conserving water and reducing chemical waste

Nearly every step of textile production depends on water—water that’s loaded with dyes and chemicals. Pair that with a lack of stringent regulations in many countries and the result is waterways used for dumping industrial waste.

Did you know? It takes 2500 gallons of water to produce one pair of jeans and 600 gallons to make that t-shirt you’re wearing.

Do the right thing.
Simple Recycling has made it easy. Just follow these:

Three Simple Steps

  1. Request bags from Simple Recycling at SimpleRecycling.com or call (866) 835-5068. Bags will be delivered free to your doorstep within a week.
  2. Stuff those orange bags with textiles and household goods of any condition.
  3. Set the bags curbside on the morning of your solid waste service day—no need to call for pickup. Your items will be picked up automatically and replacement bags left at your door.

For more information about solid waste and recycling services in The Woodlands, go to the Recycling and Solid Waste page of The Woodlands Township website.

Add Height and Habitat with Oxeye Sunflower

Native Plant Focus: Oxeye Sunflower

Heliopsis helianthoides

Oxeye Sunflower (1)

[By Ann Hall, Environmental Education Specialist, enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov]

With showy yellow daisy-like flowers attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, beneficial wasps, flies and native bees, the oxeye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) blooms all summer and into fall.  Since this plant is not a true sunflower, it is known by several common names including ‘false sunflower’, ‘oxeye daisy’ and ‘smooth oxeye’.   This upright clump-forming Texas native perennial is very effective when used in a garden border, native plant garden, or as an addition to a pollinator garden.

Oxeye sunflower is easy to grow and maintain

It thrives in full sun but will tolerate part shade.  The low watering requirement and tolerance to all soil types make it a perfect plant for our hot Texas climate.  At maturity, oxeye sunflower will reach a height of 3-6 feet and spreads into 2-4 foot clumps.  Dead head (remove spent flowers) to keep this long-blooming perennial covered with blooms.  No known pests or diseases affect this extremely resistant plant.

Ground Bee on Oxeye Sunflower

Nature is enhanced by the oxeye sunflower since it is pollinated by a specific ground-nesting bee.  Birds use the seeds as a winter food source while the plant’s stems provide cover for beneficial insects.  Starting the oxeye sunflower from seed is easily accomplished in the cooler fall and winter months.  Although it is possible to divide the mature clumps, this strategy is less successful than growing from seed.

Seeds of oxeye sunflower are readily available from online retailers who focus on seeds of Texas native plants. Watch for local plants sales offering starts of oxeye sunflower or check local native plant retailers.  Enjoy not only the summer to fall color this plant provides, but also the hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and other fascinating pollinators it will attract to your garden.

Kick the Plastic Habit this July

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Take the Plastic Free Pledge – Choose to Refuse!

Summer vacation means more parties, picnics, and eating on-the-go! It’s time to reflect on our disposable habits. Plastic Free July highlights how our short-term convenient choices can have long-term impacts on our environment.

Did You Know? “Eight out of ten items found on beaches in international coastal cleanups are related to eating and drinking,” according to One World One Ocean. This is one problem with an easy solution: choose to refuse!

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Top five ways to reduce plastic in your daily life:

  1. Bring your own bag.  On average in the United States, 100 billion plastic bags are used by consumers annually. The average time each bag is used is less than 15 minutes.
  2. Bring your own bottle. The amount of water used to produce a plastic bottle is 6 to 7 times the amount of water in the bottle.
  3. Bring your own mug. Many coffee shops give a discount if you bring your own container!
  4. Choose cardboard and paper packaging over plastic containers and bags. Less than 14 percent of plastic packaging– the fastest-growing type of packaging–gets recycled.
  5. Kick the disposable straw habit, especially plastic ones. If you must use a straw, try a reusable one made of stainless steel or bamboo.

Explore more easy tips here! Going plastic-free in July is simple; take The Woodlands Plastic Free Pledge and let us know how YOU will break your disposable habit!

At home and on the go, when you can’t reduce, remember to recycle! Need more information? Call the Environmental Services Department at 281-210-3800.

Regular Trash Schedule on July 4th

PILATES

Residents are reminded that there will be no interruption or delay of solid waste services over the Fourth of July holiday. Waste Management will provide curbside pickup of trash, recycling and yard trimmings to all residents on their regularly scheduled service day, including Wednesday, July 4, 2018.

For a trouble-free pick-up, please place carts at the curb before 7 a.m. on your regular pick-up day. Keep streets clear of parked cars to allow trucks to safely access carts.

Recycling Reminder

More Important Reminders for Residents:

  • Per the Holiday Collection Schedule, the only holidays that will affect residential trash and recycling collection this year (2018) will be Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

To schedule a bulky pick-up or report service issues, please contact Waste Management at 800-800-5804 or e-mail cssatex@wm.com.

For more information about solid waste and recycling services in The Woodlands, please visit the Environmental Services webpages or call 281-210-3800.

Is There a Tiger in your Yard?

[Guest blog post & original art by Melissa Birdwell, EfTA Intern]

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Tiger-Control Tips

Protect yourself from mosquitoes by regularly dumping out containers holding standing water and wearing CDC-approved mosquito repellent. This is especially important considering that West Nile continues to surface in our local mosquito population this season.

The mosquito mentioned in the image above, the Asian Tiger, is the vector for Dengue and Zika viruses. These mosquitoes are active during the daytime and readily bite humans. Emptying containers of standing water could protect you from diseases carried by the Asian Tiger Mosquito, as that will prevent them from breeding near your home.

The objects shown in the image above are only some of the possible containers that could house mosquito eggs and larvae. Something as small as a bottle cap could be enough to produce a new generation of mosquitoes in only seven days.

Melissa Birdwell completed an 80-hour internship with Environmental Services as part of the Education for Tomorrow Alliance Student Internship Program. She is a rising senior at The Woodlands Christian Academy and has an interest in biological research.


Education for Tomorrow Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting the business and education communities in Montgomery County, Texas. With innovative programs focused on career, leadership and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) preparation, EfTA has become the portal through which business leaders can access and strengthen local education.

The Woodlands Township a proud partner of EfTA, providing four or more Interns each summer with valuable field and laboratory experience as part of the Mosquito Surveillance & Education Program.

 

All A-Buzz – its Pollinator Week!

pwgraphic-for-cover-photo[By Ann Hall, Environmental Education Specialist, enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov]

Celebrate the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles during National Pollinator Week , June 18-24, 2018.

When pollen is moved within a flower or carried from one flower of another of the same species, it leads to fertilization, a vital step to reproduce flowers, fruit and plants.  The vast majority of all flowering plants depend on insects and animals to move pollen from plant to plant.  More than 99% of pollinators are beneficial insects such as flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths and bees.

Pollinators are in decline.  Populations of honeybees, native bees and many butterflies have become much smaller in recent years.  Research has shown that this decline is partially due to the increased use of pesticides and the reduction of many native flowering plants.  The work of pollinators is crucial to maintaining full harvests of crops and the general health of plants everywhere.

What You Can Do For Pollinators

For information on what to plant in your own yard or garden and how to get involved with The Woodlands Township’s goal to become a National Wildlife Federation Monarch Champion City access the PolliNatives Project Page

 

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Plant for Pollinators and Water Savings at Free Workshop this Sat!

 

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Plant with a Purpose!

Join us for this free workshop and learn how to create habitat in your landscape while saving water at the same time.

We’ll delve into:

  • Importance of keeping invasive species at bay – 8:15 a.m.
  • Wonders of pollinators and how to attract them – 9:45 a.m.
  • Many benefits of native plants including water conservation – 10:45 a.m.
  • Best methods for seed collecting and propagation of the plants you love – 12:45 a.m.

Attend one or more FREE sessions – click here to save your spot.

Experts from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Texas Master Naturalists will lead each session.

HARC Building (1)

DETAILS:

  • Saturday, June 23 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    • Join us for all or part of the program
    • Lunch provided
  • HARC Building, 8801 Gosling Rd, The Woodlands
  • Free but registration is required – click here to save your spot 

 

Thank you to our sponsors:

Houston Advanced Research Center, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Texas Master Naturalists, Woodlands Joint Powers Agency

 

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Recycling Dilemma #1003 – Moving Boxes and Oversized Cardboard

 

Cardboard Graphic

Whether you relocated from across the country, moved a kid home from college, or just received delivery of a new flat screen TV, dealing with those cardboard boxes is no problem!  Your curbside solid waste services through Waste Management provide a special pick-up day each month for recycling oversized and overabundance of cardboard boxes. The service is provided to each neighborhood in The Woodlands once a month at no additional cost.

2 Easy Steps:

Determine your pick-up day by Village

  • 2nd Monday of the Month: Alden Bridge, Cochran’s Crossing, Sterling Ridge.
  • 4th Friday of the Month: Creekside Park, College Park, Grogan’s Forest, Grogan’s Mill, Indian Springs, Panther Creek, Research Forest, Town Center.

Schedule bulk recycling pick-up of cardboard

  • At least 2 business days prior to the scheduled pick-up day, call Waste Management Customer Service at 1-800-800-5804.
  • Request and keep the confirmation number until service occurs. 

For a trouble-free pick-up, please follow these guidelines:

  • Flatten boxes, then bundle and stack them curbside.
  • Fold packing paper and place in your recycling cart for pick-up on your regular service day.
  • NO packing peanuts, Styrofoam™, bubble wrap or plastic.
  • Place items at the curb before 7 a.m. on the pre-scheduled pick-up day.

Give Moving Boxes Another Trip (1)

Have an abundance of cardboard and don’t want to wait?

Take it to one of our local Drop-off centers: 

The Woodlands Recycling Center | 5100 block of Research Forest, west of Bear Branch Recreation Center | Open Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Precinct 3 Recycling Complex | 1122 Pruitt Road | Call for details: 281-367-7283 | Open Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., closed for lunch 11:30 to 12:30


Did you move with more than you meant to, or don’t want to take it all to the new place? Check out the previous Recycling Dilemma # 1002 – Got Stuff? for resources to donate, declutter and discard.


For more moving day solutions see the Moving In/Moving Out Guidelines or call Environmental Services at 281-210-3800.

West Nile Virus Confirmed in Local Mosquito Samples

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The Montgomery County Mosquito Abatement team has detected the first and second mosquito samples to test positive for West Nile virus in The Woodlands Township. With this heightened risk of transmission residents should be diligent in protecting themselves and loved ones from mosquito-borne disease.

There have been no reports of human West Nile virus cases in Montgomery or Harris Counties at this time by the Texas Department of Health Services. However, mosquito surveillance programs exist because detecting the virus in mosquitoes provides the early warning system that protects our community from infection.

Treatment of the affected areas has been completed. Please visit South County Mosquito Abatement to view a map of the treatment areas.

Do Your Part to Prevent Mosquito-Borne Disease…

  • Use mosquito repellent when you are outside – day or night. Choose one with an active ingredient recommended by the Centers for Disease Control : DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus are proven effective by research.
  • Monitor and eliminate all sources of standing water around your property.
  • Treat standing water that cannot be drained with a biological larvicide such as Mosquito Dunks® or Mosquito Bits® – which are available for purchase at local home and garden centers.

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For more tips on protecting your family from mosquito-borne diseases, please visit the Mosquito Control webpage.

To schedule a presentation about reducing mosquitoes for neighborhoods or groups, please call The Woodlands Township Environmental Services at 281-210-3800.