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.

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!