More green plants don’t equal more fish in our waterways – here’s why

Aquatic plants supply food, shelter and oxygen for the fish and other aquatic life that share their environment. Pretty important stuff. So, logically, the more plants in the pond the better, right? Well, sort of.

While native aquatic plants are certainly a good thing, there’s a growing contingent of non-native interlopers in these parts. At least 10 species in The Woodlands water bodies appear on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s prohibited species list. These invasive species are illegal to sell, distribute, import, possess, or introduce into Texas waters.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has identified several plants as illegal to sell, distribute, import, possess or introduce into Texas waters. Some plants on the above list are not yet prohibited but are known invasive plants in The Woodlands.

The problem starts with the unfair advantage that non-native invasive plants enjoy: fewer natural controls than their native counterparts. This allows them to spread easily and choke out the natives. And as native plants disappear, so do many of our native fish species and other life who simply can’t adapt.

These invasives don’t need any help. Yet, we give them plenty by turbocharging their growth with lawn chemicals. Rain and irrigation readily carry chemicals from lawn to storm drain to local waterway. There they fertilize aquatic plants just as they do your grass. All the excessive growth that results eventually dies and decomposes, consuming oxygen in the process – A LOT of it. So much in fact that oxygen-depleted dead zones result – not good if you’re an aquatic organism. If you’ve ever seen fish floating at the top of a pond, particularly in the summer, this is a likely reason.

In short, invasive aquatic plants bring a slew of bad news.

BUT there’s good news, too! With a couple of simple steps, you can help turn the tide. In fact, more and more residents across The Woodlands are doing exactly that.

Step 1 – Remove all non-native plants from your landscape. Even if they aren’t an aquatic species, they still risk escaping into natural areas. Remember, plants don’t have to grow their way to new areas; seeds are great at dispersing by wind or bird.

Step 2 – Reduce, or even better, eliminate chemical use in your yard. Substitute organic products in their place. Did you know organic compost is probably the single best amendment for your yard?

Support your local fish populations, and all the other critters that depend on clean, healthy water. Remember to: Remove, Plant, Repeat! Remove invasive species, plant natives and repeat the process.

Learn more during Watershed Project: Aquatic Invasive Species, an online workshop scheduled for June 5, 2021, from 9 to 11 a.m. The workshop is FREE, but registration is required. Click the button below to register.


Questions or comments?

Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov


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Smarter About Sustainability Seminar

What a turnout for our two-part seminar on Saturday! Our presenters provided some great resources for residents to save water, support pollinators and be better environmental stewards. You can find these below.  

Please don’t hesitate to contact Bob or Lauren with questions or let them know if you enjoyed their presentation by taking this 3-minute survey.  

Your New Smart Water Meter 

Bob Dailey guided residents through using the WaterSmart Customer Portal. This website allows customers of the Woodlands Water Agency to view their water usage and bill, identify potential leaks, set notifications for excess use and get alerts about freezes or other weather events that may impact your water use. An app is in development and until it’s ready, the WaterSmart Customer Portal can be easily viewed on your phone, desktop or tablet.  

Quick links for Woodlands Water Agency water-saving resources: 

Missed the presentation? View the recorded seminar on our YouTube channel.


Creating a Pollinator Paradise Your Neighbors Will Love 

Lauren has spent her spare time transforming her Houston home gardens into a pollinator-friendly habitat that is beautiful, beneficial to local wildlife AND blends well with her suburban neighborhood. In this presentation, Lauren shared easy steps for creating a pollinator paradise at home that your family can enjoy and will please your neighbors too! 

 

Lauren highlighted the following invasive plants commonly found in our landscapes and  encouraged all of us to remove and replace with natives when creating your pollinator paradise.   

  • Chinese Tallow 
  • Elephant Ears 
  • Nandina (heavenly bamboo) 
  • Bradford Pear 
  • Ligustrum 
  • Pampas Grass 
  • Japanese Honeysuckle 
  • Chinese Privet 

Texasinvasives.org offers a wealth of helpful information on invasive species in our state and region. Learn how to identify key invasives in our area and take action today. 

Missed the presentation? View the recorded seminar on our YouTube channel.


After you’ve created your pollinator paradise, be sure to register your garden. The annual Plant for Pollinators Village Challenge kicks off June 1, 2021.  Register your garden before December 1, 2021 and support your Village Association Scholarship Fund. For more details and to register, visit the Plant for Pollinators webpage. 

Questions or comments?

Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov


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Learn a thing, share a thing!

Looking for an easy way to save lots of water? Properly manage your sprinkler system. It’s a great way to keep your lawn healthy, too. Then share your knowledge with neighbors to multiply your impact.  

Without good information, it’s easy to overwater your lawn. Raise your hand if weeds and pests are staking a little too much claim these days. Does your water bill seem a bit high and you’re not sure why? Have you spent too many mornings hoping the neighbors don’t notice you watered the sidewalk all night? Its ok, you’re not alone.  

Anyone with an automatic sprinkler system has dealt with these issues from time to time. They’re signs that your sprinkler system is due for its regular tune-up. The good news, it’s easy – as long as you have the right information. Even better news, these small fixes result in big water savings. That’s good for the environment, your lawn, and your pocketbook. Double the positive impact by sharing your new-found knowledge with a neighbor.  

Controlling irrigation relies on these simple steps:

  • Check sprinkler heads for misalignment; don’t water the driveway 
  • Set your controller on manual so it doesn’t automatically run, rain or shine 
  • Check and re-set your controller after power outages; don’t water the wrong amount

Step 1: Before you start adjusting things, first determine how much water your lawn needs. St. Augustine lawns require no more than 1” a week (including rain), spring through fall. Woodlands Water Agency makes it easy to gauge your water needs with their weekly Irrigation Recommendation emails. The recommendations are based on real-time scientific data – precipitation and evapotranspiration rates – correlated with the amount of water St. Augustin lawns require. Check the weekly email and adjust your sprinkler system accordingly. It’s that simple. Sign up for your weekly recommendation email here: https://www.woodlandswater.org/ (enter your address under “RECEIVE UPDATES”). 

Step 2: Audit your sprinkler system regularly. Sprinkler systems loosen up and misalign over time. A regular adjustment ensures you’re putting out the right amount of water and putting it where it needs to be – not in the street. It’s easier and quicker than it sounds. The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department can help! 

Attend a how-to class right from your kitchen table. The Spring Sprinkler Check-up and Audit Class on Saturday, March 13, 2021 from 10 to 11 a.m., demonstrates step-by-step how to assess your sprinkler system and make any needed adjustments. Sprinkler audits take less than 30 minutes once you have the basics down – this class lays them out for you.  

Step 3: Share your knowledge. Put your insights to work by helping a neighbor perform their own audits. You’ll double your water conserving impact. And it will likely grow from there as they share it down the line.  


The Spring Sprinkler Check-Up and Class is FREE, but REGISTRATION is required. Do it now while you’re thinking about it. And why not get a neighbor to join you!

To learn about more Environmental Services classes, workshops, and events, sign up for our BLOG or email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Registration Open for Spring Classes

The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department kicks off the New Year with a packed calendar of programs and events. We are ready to plant trees, create water-saving lawns, get our hands dirty in the garden and more. From virtual programing to socially-distanced events, there is something for everyone.  


45th Arbor Day Tree Giveaway Drive-Through 

Saturday, January 23, 20201
9 a.m. to noon
Sawdust Park and Ride
701 Westridge Road, The Woodlands, TX 77380

One of the longest running community events celebrates 45 years. Cruise through the line in your car and select from twelve varieties of native tree seedlings. Help reforest our community by planting these seedlings in your yard and nearby green spaces. Don’t miss this free event.  


Walk in the Woods: The Weird and Wonderful World of Mushrooms 

Thursday, February 11, 2021
6 to 7 p.m.
Free online class

Take a virtual Walk in the Woods with Teri MacArthur, Texas Master Naturalist and discover The Woodlands’ rich and diverse array of mushrooms. Then dive into the critical role they play in healthy ecosystems and yes, even healthy lawns and landscapes.  Registration required.


7th annual Community Tree Planting 

Saturday, February 13, 2021
9 a.m. to noon
The Woodlands High School Parking Lot

Take part in the community’s reforestation program by planting native trees around your home or in a nearby green space. Reserve your free, 3-gallon trees online and then pick up at the community drive-through event. Registration opens January 11 (supplies are limited).  For more information or to register follow the link below.


Invasive Species Training  

Saturday, February 20, 2021
8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Free online class

Volunteers are needed to join the Invasive Species Volunteer Task Force. This training is a great place to start:  learn how to identify and remove non-native plants common to our area. Upon completion, you’ll be ready to volunteer alongside your neighbors, helping to keep The Woodlands environment healthy. The training is free but registration is required.


Spring Organic Vegetable Gardening Class 

Saturday, February 20, 2021
9 a.m. to noon
Free online class

It’s that time of year! Start planning your spring vegetable garden now. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced gardener, a great first step is to join Dr. Joe Masabni, Texas A&M Extension vegetable specialist in this free online (Zoom) class. Participants will take away new strategies for managing soil, selecting the right plants, companion planting, managing pests organically and more. Registration is required.


Don’t miss out, register today. For a full list of upcoming programs, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/environment or subscribe to receive a weekly email with the latest happenings.   

Did you miss one of our fall programs? 

View past recorded programs on The Woodlands Township YouTube channel HERE.

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov 

Invasives are on the run!

Plants can’t run, but they surely can spread! If you haven’t already heard, The Invasives Task Force is hot on their trail here in The Woodlands.

In 2019, more than 40 volunteers attended trainings to learn about the problems with invasive species, particularly those impacting our Township pathways and green spaces. That group of hard workers has already put in over a thousand hours this year removing air potato vines, elephant ears, nandina, Japanese honeysuckle, and many more invasive species.

A group of volunteers spent the morning removing invasive plants in Grogan’s Mill Village. Photo taken in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Perhaps you’ve seen the volunteers or noticed their sign when working. Have you wondered if their efforts really matter? The answer is a resounding YES! Removing these invasives, which steal nutrients from native plants and trees, supports the health of the forest and the critters that depend on it. Our community founders were passionate about preserving trees and fought to save the vegetation native to The Woodlands. Now it’s up to us to continue the fight!

If interested in this ongoing project, join the next training class on February 20, 2021.   It’s free but registration is required. Find more information and a registration link HERE.

Are you excited to get involved right now? Great! We can pair you with trained volunteers who can help you learn on the job. Contact Teri MacArthur at tmacarthur@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov to find out how.  Note:  We still recommend you attend the February 20 training to further your knowledge and effectiveness.