Save the date for GreenUp: Fall Sweep

In light of the annual Earth Day GreenUp cancellation in March, the Township encourages individuals and family groups to organize their own cleanup on Saturday, September 5, 2020. 

Help keep The Woodlands looking clean and green. 

How Fall Sweep Works 

  • Gather your family and ready your gloves, bags and outdoor gear for some community beautification. 
  • Choose a location in the community in need of litter cleanup. Check out suggested sites below for ideas. 
  • Cleanup litter along pathways and in the tree lines. Report large or hazardous items to the Township through the 311 App or by calling 281-210-3800 during normal business hours. 
  • Dispose of full bags at home or in a park trash can. Tie your trash bags tightly to protect sanitation workers. Avoid causing more litter issues and take bags home if  park trash cans are full. 
  • Share your success by posting a photo on social media using #GreenUpFallSweep 

Safety 

  •  Wear protective gear– Gloves and close-toed shoes  
  • Follow COVID-19 guidelines – Wear gloves and maintain a 6’ distance. Bring a mask for passing within 6’ of others. If you encounter littered gloves and masks, please use care and review this guide for safety tips. Dispose of your single-use face masks and disposable gloves in a trash can (not a recycle can). Check out this resource by Keep Texas Beautiful for cleanup guidance during the pandemic. 
  • Be prepared for the elements – Long pants, closed-toe shoes, hats, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and a reusable water bottle are recommended. 
  • Sanitize when you’re done – Immediately wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer after collecting litter. 
  • Be aware of wildlife –Observe from a distance. Watch where you step. Do not place hands in holes or brush piles.   
  • Know poisonous plants– Poison ivy is common along pathways and inside tree lines. Touching leaves and stems can cause a painful rash. Remember leaves of three, leave it be! See image below.   

Site Suggestions 

Participants may choose their own cleanup locations. Parks, pathways and green spaces by businesses always need cleaning. Pay attention to tree lines to spot litter hiding under leaves and brush. 

Litter Hot Spots 

Find litter hot spots on www.Litterati.org or by using the app on your phone. Help us track litter in The Woodlands by snapping pictures and logging found litter in the app leading up to the event, during and after for future events! 

 Locations by Village 

Find specific locations within each village. These are only suggestions only; you’re encouraged to clean up any public area in need. 

Click on the map below for locations and directions

Why is litter a problem? 

All litter, big and small, is not only unsightly, it has serious environmental consequences. Please dispose of waste properly, educate or report those seen littering and start the habit of picking it up when you see it. 
 
Negative effects on our community: 

  • Decreases community aesthetic, reducing property values. 
  • Causes soil, water and air pollution. Chemicals can leach from litter, polluting nearby soil and water bodies. If the littered area is burned, it can release toxic particulate matter. 
  • Creates breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can reproduce in containers as small as a bottle cap. 
  • Causes fire hazards. 
  • Harms wildlife. Aquatic and land animals ingest small pieces of litter and fishing line or other tanglers entrap them.  

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

Why care about invasive plants?

If it’s green it’s good, right? Well, not quite. Invasive plants do add green to our surroundings, some quite strikingly. In the process, though, they cause serious environmental damage. Let’s take a deeper look at the problem with invasive plants and how they disrupt an ecosystem. 

Invasives tend to grow quickly, out competing native vegetation for available nutrients. Invasive vines, especially, can overgrow native trees and plants, smothering out the sunlight. Native wildlife loses habitat when these changes occur. 

Soil chemistry suffers at the hands of invasives, as well. When native vegetation is thriving in healthy soil, their root systems create stability, supply water and essential nutrients, and return more nutrients when they decompose. They help maintain the soil chemistry, its physical structure, and sustain essential soil microbes whose job it is to help store and supply water to plants. Non-native, invasive plant roots interrupt these unseen but essential processes which are the foundation of a healthy forest.

Volunteers remove invasive plants along a pathway in The Woodlands. Photo courtesy of Kathie Herrick

Nearly 100 residents have joined The Woodlands Township Invasive Task Force to combat these problems. This group of trained volunteers removes invasive plants from pathways and greenbelts, helping sustain our native species. You can help, too.  As summer turns to fall, many invasives are at their most prolific and your help is needed. Keep your eyes open and report invasive species on the pathways when you see them. Not sure which are the bad guys? How about watching for just these three: Japanese climbing fern, nandina (sometimes called heavenly bamboo), and elephant ears. Learn and identify more with this guide to invasive species of the Galveston Bay Area. Then use The Woodlands Township 311 app on your phone to report your sighting of these plants.  

If you would like to join the removal work, join us on August 15, 2020. The Environmental Services Department will host a training class on invasive species. You’ll leave informed, inspired and ready to join the Task Force. Register for the class using the link below.


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

It’s National Invasive Species Awareness Week

What’s growing in your backyard?

Just what are invasive species? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an “invasive species” is non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration; and, whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm, or harm to human health. A number of federal and state agencies are concerned with invasive species including The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which battles non-native plants and animal species every day to maintain the health of our natural areas and waterways. 

Closer to home, The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department is addressing the many invasive plant species that have infiltrated our pathways and open spaces, impacting native plants and trees. Since May 2019, nearly one hundred Township residents have attended classes on invasive plants, learning to identify them, monitor their spread and report data. This “Invasives Task Force” has also gone to work on our on pathways, removing hundreds of pounds of air potato vine, Japanese climbing fern, nandina, elephant ear, Chinese privet and other non-natives.

Invasive Tasks Force participants proudly sharing the bags of invasives removed during a morning of volunteering

What can you do?

Learn more

May 16-23, 2020 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week. What better time to join your neighbors in learning about invasives and how to stop them?

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 how to take action. Whether you are a boater, aquarium owner, gardener, hiker, pet owner or all the above, you’ll find specific tips to help stem the tide of invasive species.

Stop the spread

Once you’re familiar with our most common invaders, check your yard to see if you have any. If so, take a simple but important action for the health of our local environment by replacing them with natives. Then, consider increasing your impact even more by joining the Township’s Invasive Task Force!   

You might also be interested in exploring the “Citizen Science” section of texasinvasives.org for advanced learning opportunities such as area workshops and online trainings. Citizen Scientists are volunteers who receive expert training to identify and track key invasives in our area. The information they gather is delivered into a statewide database and to those who can do something about it. The premise is simple. The more trained eyes watching for invasive species, the better our chances of lessening or avoiding damage to our native landscape. 

Let us know if you’re interested, or have questions, by sending an email to enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov. Learn more and help Stop the Spread! 

Why volunteering works – COMMUNITY!

We have all been staying home and away from our favorite activities, but we remain connected by community – one with deep roots and a rich history of volunteering.

Our forested community was once a dynamic gathering place filled with unique biodiversity. We live in the western-most part of the “Big Thicket,” an area unrivaled in the U.S. for flora and fauna richness. Over the centuries, as the population of the area grew, our community was developed and with that development came change. The number and diversity of species was reduced and non-native, invasive vegetation and animals were introduced, leading to issues like loss of native habitat.

In May 2019, The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department held a training class for volunteers to help alleviate the damage caused by removing invasive species from our pathways. The response by volunteers was overwhelming!

By December 2019, volunteers had spent more than 500 hours removing a huge amount of invasive vines and other non-native vegetation from green spaces so native plants and trees could thrive again. A record number of volunteers were hard at work in 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic brought a stop to these activities. . When the time is right, these volunteers will be ready to get back to their work and you’re invited to join them!

Volunteers remove invasive, air potato vines from along pathways in The Woodlands

The Invasives Removal Task Force has quickly become an established community group and riding on their success, another volunteer opportunity presented itself for 2020. Growing concerns about our waterways have led to the creation of The Watershed Project. Our community is built around a complicated web of streams, waterways, bayous, ponds and lakes, creating many opportunities for them to be negatively impacted by litter, chemical runoff and invasive species. Being surrounded by so much water also means that there are any opportunities for volunteers to help manage the health of our waterways.

When the new Watershed Project was launched, earlier this year, more than 50 residents signed on to learn how to save water, reduce chemicals in our landscapes and waterways, and offer educational training to neighbors in their community. In the first two months of the year, more than 140 hours of time was recorded in water related training and volunteering. Yes, for now, projects, trainings and community educational outreachhave been postponed but we know it will return stronger than before. And when it’s safe for our community to come together again, we hope you will join us in working to make our outdoor spaces a healthy and vibrant place to call home.

Volunteers for the Watershed Project learn how to determine the turbidity of the water in the stream as part of a water quality monitoring training

To those who have volunteered in the past, THANK YOU! But, if you haven’t found your niche to serve and would like to know about upcoming opportunities, contact Environmental Services at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov. You can be a part of the work to keep our community connected and healthy by serving as a volunteer. It works because of YOU.

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


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Do good. Feel good: a guide to community service while social distancing

If you are looking for a relaxing activity to make a positive impact on your community while practicing the CDC’s recommendation of social distancing, consider cleaning up litter along your regular walking route, local green belts and your neighborhood.

All litter, big and small, is not only unsightly, it has serious environmental consequences, that can be easily prevented. It is important to dispose of waste properly, educate or report those seen littering and start the habit of picking it up when you see it.

Negative effects of litter:

1. Decreases community aesthetic, reducing property values.

2. Causes soil, water and air pollution. Chemicals can leach from litter, polluting nearby soil and water bodies. If the littered area is burned, it can release toxic particulate matter.

3. Creates breeding grounds for mosquitoes. It only takes 1 plastic bottle cap full of water for mosquitoes to reproduce.

4. Causes fire hazards.

5. Harms wildlife. Small pieces of litter are often ingested by aquatic and land animals and fishing line or other tanglers can trap them. This can lead to death or severe injury.

Cleanup Tips:

If you’ve been racking up a collection of plastic bags, reuse them for litter bags! Remember to take clean plastic bags and film back to the grocery store for recycling. They cannot be recycled in your curbside cart.

Dispose of collected litter in a pathway receptacle or your curbside cart. Please use care not to overstuff trash bins on pathways. Overstuffed trash cans lead to more litter.

Want to burn some calories while you’re at it? Try “plogging,” the act of picking up litter while you are jogging!

Safety Tips:

  • Use reusable work gloves to save disposable ones. Wash them after use.
  • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands. ·
  • Watch out for poisonous plants. Leaves of three, leave it be!
  • Use care around wildlife and observe them from afar. Use a stick to disturb grass before walking through.
  • Wear long sleeved, light colored clothing and close toed shoes.
  • Bring a hat, sunscreen, mosquito repellant and a water bottle.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Do not go into streets or busy vehicle areas.

Look down for litter, look up for other hidden treasures in the community!

While you are out enjoying a relaxing walk through the neighborhood, take advantage of being surrounded by nature in spring and consider the following social distancing approved activities:

Photography – Take a moment to share your photos with your family, friends, your community through social media and us! Many people are unable to leave the house during this time. Your photos can help them get a healthy dose of nature to brighten their day.

iNaturalist – Become a Citizen Scientist! Observe locally and identify globally by snapping pictures of local flora and fauna in The Woodlands. Download the app, snap a picture, receive help identifying species and contribute to global research.

Birding – Here is a resource from Texas Parks & Wildlife to get you started. Grocery stores often have laminated guides in the checkout lines.

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