Care about water? Become a water specialist!

Get certified this summer! Join the corps of well-informed volunteer specialists who provide education, outreach, and service to keep our local water bodies healthy. This unique certification program, made possible by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department, is offered to both students (grades 9 – 12) and adults.

You can be certified as a Texas Waters Specialist after completing just 8 hours of training based on the Texas Waters curriculum guide. You’ll receive a certificate and an official pin designating you as a certified waters specialist. Then volunteer with The Woodlands Township and other local agencies to educate and work beside your neighbors in protecting local aquatic resources.

The good news: you can attend classes to obtain the needed training hours right here in The Woodlands! The Environmental Services Department has several class dates scheduled through the summer. If you need more information, email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov with the subject line: water specialist inquiry.

Get started today and register as a TPWD volunteer here. For more detailed instructions on how to register, follow along with this document.

To earn your hours through The Woodlands Township, register for an upcoming class here.

Upcoming water lab classes are scheduled for Saturday, July 16 from 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturday, August 20 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Bear Branch Recreation Center.

Earth Day GreenUp: Join the Clean Your Block-Party this Saturday!

Join the green team of volunteers sweeping our community for litter this Saturday, March 26, 2022 at Earth Day GreenUp. Team up with family and friends to target litter in our parks and green spaces. Each year more than a thousand GreenUp volunteers remove over 4,500 pounds of litter - the equivalent of 76 of our curbside trash carts!    

On the day of the event, check in between 8 and 10 a.m. at one of eight Township parks. There you’ll receive disposable gloves, bags, a map to a nearby cleanup location and a limited supply of trash grabbers. Please bring your own reusable water bottle and work gloves. Once you’ve checked in it’s time to head out and clean up. The event runs until 11 a.m. but finishing earlier is fine.   

When you’ve returned bagged litter and equipment to the check-in site, it’s time to party! The Woodlands Township, your local Village Association, and event sponsors will host “clean your block parties” at each check-in site. Enjoy a pizza lunch and celebrate your efforts with your neighbors from 11 a.m to noon.  

On event day, remember:

* All participants will need to sign a waiver at check-in if they did not register online. Participants under the age of 18 must be signed in by a parent or legal guardian.

* Wear appropriate clothing – long pants and closed-toe shoes or boots are recommended.

* Remember hats, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, reusable gloves and water bottle.

Earth Day GreenUp is coordinated by The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department with support from Waste Management, Woodlands Water, H-E-B, Howard Hughes Corporation, Chevron Phillips Chemical, Papa John’s Pizza, Keep Texas Beautiful and The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. 

For more information, please email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov or call 281-210-3800.   

Join Earth Day GreenUp 2022  

Online registration is now closed, but walk up participation is welcome.   

Check-in:  Saturday, March 26, 8 to 10 a.m. at a location near you.  

  • Cleanup:  8 to 11 a.m.  
  • Check-out & Clean Your Block Party: 11 a.m. to noon   
  • More Info:  Call Environmental Services at 281-210-3800   

Earth Day GreenUp 2022

Join the community-wide litter cleanup day!  

The 11th annual Earth Day GreenUp is nearly here. Team up with family and friends to target litter in our parks and green spaces. Each year more than a thousand GreenUp volunteers remove over 4,500 pounds of litter - the equivalent of 76 of our curbside trash carts!    

On the day of the event, check in between 8 and 10 a.m. at one of eight Township parks. There you’ll receive disposable gloves, bags, a map to a nearby cleanup location and a limited supply of trash grabbers. Please bring your own reusable water bottle and work gloves. Once you’ve checked in it’s time to head out and clean up. The event runs until 11 a.m. but finishing earlier is fine.   

When you’ve returned bagged litter and equipment to the check-in site, it’s time to party! The Woodlands Township, your local Village Association, and event sponsors will host “clean your block parties” at each check-in site. Enjoy a pizza lunch and celebrate your efforts with your neighbors from 11 a.m to noon.  

Earth Day GreenUp is coordinated by The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department with support from Waste Management, Woodlands Water, H-E-B, Howard Hughes Corporation, Chevron Phillips Chemical, Papa John’s Pizza, Keep Texas Beautiful and The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N.  For more information, please email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov or call 281-210-3800.   

Join Earth Day GreenUp 2022  

  • Register through Monday, March 21 at www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/greenup      
  • Check-in:  Saturday, March 26, 8 to 10 a.m. at a location near you. Walk-ups welcome.   
  • Alden Bridge: Alden Bridge Park   
  • Cochran’s Crossing: Shadowbend Park    
  • College Park: Harper’s Landing Park   
  • Creekside Park: The Lodge at Rob Fleming Park    
  • Grogan’s Mill: Sawmill Park    
  • Indian Springs: Falconwing Park   
  • Panther Creek: Ridgewood Park   
  • Sterling Ridge: May Valley Park   
  • Cleanup:  8 to 11 a.m.  
  • Check-out & Clean Your Block Party: 11 a.m. to noon   
  • More Info:  Call Environmental Services at 281-210-3800   

On event day, remember:   

  • Walk ups are welcome    
  • All participants will need to sign a waiver at check-in.  Participants under the age of 18 must be signed in by a parent or legal guardian.    
  • Wear appropriate clothing – long pants and closed-toe shoes or boots are recommended    
  • Remember hats, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, reusable gloves and water bottle   
  • Disposable gloves and bags will be provided   
  • A limited number of grabbers and vests will be available for groups that register  

How do invasive species trigger “trophic cascade”, and why should you care?

The Clean Water Act of 1977 mandated Federal agencies to prevent the introduction of invasive species, and the mandate was updated in an Executive Order in 1999 . (On linked website, search for Executive Order 13112) 

So why such a fuss about invasive species? Nature so often harshly reminds us that one thing leads to another, and it is doubly true when non-native invasive species move in. In both aquatic and terrestrial environments, detrimental changes begin immediately. And they continue to affect one after another of species’ populations or larger ecosystem communities. First may come the loss of soil organisms, meaning vegetation suffers from reduced nutrients. Then, species that feed on vegetation start falling out. Soon, higher level predators are affected when an adequate number of insects, small mammals and birds are no longer present. Scientists call this ripple effect through the food web a “trophic cascade.” Yes, you should care. 

A neighborhood under attack by invasive species.
photo courtesy of Kathie Herrick

We are prone to take all the good things from nature for granted, so sometimes we lose sight of the fact that without all the interactions that create vibrant ecosystems, we end up without vital benefits – things like clean waterways, clear air, forest products, recreational areas, and drinking water! 

Now you know. Will you take the next step to put that knowledge into action, helping to stop a trophic cascade along your favorite pathway? Join your many neighbors here in The Woodlands who monitor, control and remove invasive species. The Invasives Task Force of The Woodlands logs over a thousand hours a year in volunteer service to keep our pathways clear of damaging invasive species.  

If your answer is yes, the next workshop is coming up on February 19. Here’s the info:  

  • Presenter: Ashley Morgan-Olvera, Director, Research & Education, Texas Invasive Species Institute 
  • Time: 8:30 to 11:30a.m. 
  • This is an ONLINE workshop. REGISTER to receive the Zoom link.  

You don’t need to wait until February 19 to make a difference. Join the Invasives Task Force now – sign up HERE as a Volunteer! If you want to know even more about the damage caused by invasives, check out this article on the website of North American Invasive Species Management Association. 

Yes, one person can make a difference, especially when part of a team of dedicated volunteers. You can join them!
photo courtesy of Kathie Herrick

Bad guys are stealing water from our forests, right before our eyes!

Water thieves are afoot. They sneak in from foreign lands while our heads are turned, multiply their numbers to create trouble-making gangs, and refuse to leave. Who are these villains? Invasive plants – out of place, out of control, and gobbling up resources, including our most precious one, water.

By definition, an invasive species is “a species that is non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” (U.S. Department of the Interior, Federal Invasive Species Advisory Committee) Invasives lack the natural controls that exist in their own native habitat. As a result, they’re usually fast-growing and rapid reproducers. These bad guys alter the forest in a variety of ways including sucking up A LOT of water.

Because of their heavy water consumption and their prevalence, many are concerned that might actually dry out our forests. Is the problem really that bad? According to the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report, “invasive species are altering large portions of the earth’s terrestrial surface and are considered one of the ‘most important drivers of change in ecosystems.'” Although billions of dollars are being spent to battle invasives in the U.S., the report also predicted rapidly increasing negative effects in the future such as loss of soil health as these water thieves drain up to 250% more moisture than our native vegetation.

Before and after photos showing the invasive vine removal efforts of volunteers.

That battle against invasives is fought locally as The Woodlands Township crews and contractors spend about 200 days a year on vine and invasives removal and control. And for the past three years, volunteer invasives removal task force has joined the fray, with much success. During 2020 alone, nearly 100 volunteers spent 1020 hours removing three dump-truck loads of invasive vines, shrubs, and trees from along our pathways. Their participation freed up the Township’s contractors to work on larger areas of infestation.

Some of the worst crimes of bad guy invasives?

  • Disrupting ecosystem interactions and functions

  • Displacing native species and destroying habitat

  • Using 50% to more than 250% more water than natives

Let’s turn the tables and gang up on these water thieves invading our forest! To start, each of us can examine our own landscapes and kick out the bad guys, replacing them with natives that better serve us. Then help restore the health of forest soils by volunteering to remove invasives from our pathways and green spaces. If you’re ready to join the Task Force, sign up HERE.

For more information, contact Environmental Services at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov or call 281-210-2058.


Learn more about invasives from these past articles: