Special Announcement
New Director to Lead H-GAC Community and Environmental Planning Department 

Justin Bower is the new director for the Community and Environmental Planning Department at H-GAC. As the director, he will lead the agency’s natural resources, disaster resilience, community planning, and public safety programs. For the past 13 years, Bower has furthered the agency’s mission to support communities in improving water quality, disaster resilience, and conservation efforts. He holds a master’s degree in urban affairs and public policy from the University of Delaware and has spent more than 20 years leading natural resources and urban planning efforts for a variety of local government and nongovernmental organizations. Bower has a passion for bringing together partners and resources to enhance the Houston-Galveston region’s natural and community resilience. As part of a lifelong love of the natural world, he is actively involved in many leadership roles with natural resource efforts in the region.
Wise Awards in green beside stylized water drop owl in blue
Application Period Open for Water Innovation Strategies of Excellence Awards 

Apply now for the 2023 Water Innovation Strategies of Excellence (WISE) Awards! This program is overseen by the Natural Resources Advisory Committee, an advisory committee to the Houston-Galveston Area Council Board of Directors, and seeks to recognize innovative projects, programs, or individuals in the 13-county region that serve as models for improving and protecting water quality. Applications close at noon on Friday, March 31. For more information, visit www.h-gac.com/go/wise
close up of magnolia blossom
H-GAC Seeks Information on Conservation Projects in the Region  

As part of our Regional Conservation Initiative, H-GAC will actively assist with preparing grant applications, convening stakeholders, and otherwise supporting the implementation of priority conservation projects across the 13-county H-GAC region. To guide our efforts, we are collecting information about planned conservation projects from local governments and non-governmental organizations and categorizing the projects in a priority list. 

There is no funding associated with this project priority list, but selected projects will be eligible to receive H-GAC staff assistance. 

See the current priority project list and learn more about our work online. The list will be updated quarterly. 

Staff encourages you to submit your conservation projects by Friday, April 7, or email [email protected] with any questions. 
Color blocks depicting park scenes and words Parks and Nature Areas Awards
H-GAC Honors Parks and Natural Areas in Annual Awards Ceremony

Thirteen projects across the Houston-Galveston region were honored for serving as models for best management practices in parks, natural areas, and water quality as part of the H-GAC's annual Parks and Natural Areas Awards recognition ceremony. 

The event was held at H-GAC on February 10. Attendees at the event also heard information about Trends in Parks and Natural Areas from Asakura Robinson and updates on Trash Free Texas and the annual H-GAC WISE Awards program from H-GAC staff. 

Winners were selected for recognition by panels of expert judges and industry professionals.  

Those recognized include:  

Planning Process / Policy Tools  
  • Winner 
  • John R. Harris Park (Harris County Precinct 2)   
  • Honorable Mention 
  • Clear Creek Paddle Trail Extension - Kansas Avenue and the Dr. Ned and Fay Dudney Clear Creek Nature Center (City of League City)   

Projects Over $500,000  
  • Winner 
  • James Driver Inclusive Park (Harris County Precinct 2) 
  • Honorable Mention 
  • Sylvan Rodriguez Park Habitat Restoration Project (Houston Parks and Recreation Department [HPARD])  
  • Special Recognition  
  • Dow Elementary School Park (Old Sixth Ward Redevelopment Authority) 
  • Hanson Riverside County Park Columbia Bottomlands Education & Improved Access (Brazoria County Parks Department) 
  • Northwest Harris County MUD 5 Trails Improvements (Northwest Harris County MUD 5) 

Projects Under $500,000  
  • Winner 
  • JHEC Reforestation (City of Pearland) 
  • Honorable Mention 
  • Resoft County Park Trail Development (Brazoria County Parks Department) 
  • Special Recognition  
  • Final Segment - Cypress Creek Hike and Bike Trail (Timber Lane Utility District) 
  • Northeast Hike and Bike Trail (City of Deer Park Parks and Recreation) 

  • Winner 
  • Women in Coastal Science (Park Board of Trustees of the City of Galveston) 
  • Honorable Mention 
  • Go Wild! Program at Riverside Park (City of Bay City) 
Upcoming Events
Cotton Bayou Watershed Public Meeting March 9 (In-Person)

Join H-GAC for a public meeting to discuss water quality issues in the Cotton Bayou Watershed from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 9, at the Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch Library, 1 John Hall Drive in Mont Belvieu. At this meeting, H-GAC will discuss revisions to analyses of sources impacting water quality in the watershed and how stakeholder feedback will shape the development of an Implementation Plan (I-Plan). I-Plan strategies will be reviewed, and stakeholders will be asked to decide on actions to address pollution in Cotton Bayou.
Registration is requested but not required. 

Please take the bacteria source survey to help guide the development of the I-Plan.

More information is available online or by contacting Rachel Windham.
paint cans
Colorado County Household Hazardous Waste Collection March 18 (In-Person)

Colorado County is hosting a one-day collection event for their residents for household hazardous waste (HHW), used electronics, tires, and some other recyclables from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, March 18, at the Colorado County Fairgrounds. The location is 1164 Crossroads Blvd., Columbus. The event is limited to residents of Colorado County.

This event is made possible through Regional Solid Waste Management Grants Program funding from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, administered by the Houston-Galveston Area Council.

More information is available on the attached flyer.
Trash Bash March 25 (In-Person)

Mark your calendar for the 29th River, Lakes, Bays ‘N Bayous Trash Bash®, Texas’s largest single-day waterway cleanup on Saturday, March 25. 
Since its inception, more than 117,000 volunteers have collected over 2,400 tons of trash, 22 tons of recyclable materials, and 11,965 tires. Find out how to volunteer and promote a healthy Galveston Bay watershed at one of their many cleanup locations on March 25.

Cleanup supplies, event t-shirts, and lunch are provided to all volunteers. Trash Bash hopes you will come out and help “Clean it like you mean it !” ® 
Clean Waters Initiative / Regional Conservation Initiative Event April 12 (In-Person)

Join H-GAC for a Clean Waters Initiative / Regional Conservation Initiative event. Banking on Conservation: Riparian Areas and Water Quality will be from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 12, at H-GAC Second Floor Conference Rooms. 

Speakers will discuss some successful riparian creation, restoration, and preservation projects in the Houston-Galveston Region. We’ll look at water quality benefits, partnerships, and conservation.
Registration is requested, but not required to attend this event. 

H-GAC’s Regional Conservation Initiative works to support conservation projects that maintain, restore, and enhance natural areas in the 13-county region. H-GAC’s Clean Waters Initiative (CWI) program offers workshops that help local governments, landowners, and residents develop effective strategies to reduce pollution in area waterways. 

For more information, email [email protected]
Bringing Back Main Street Roundtable April 25 (In-Person)

Mark your calendars for the next Bringing Back Main Street Roundtable from 9:30 a.m. to noon Tuesday, April 25. The event will be at the Ol Railroad Café, 1901 Avenue G, Rosenberg.

Join us to discuss an update on Rosenberg's downtown revitalization and community events, along with information about the revitalization plan that will improve the City's Historic Downtown Rosenberg area.

The Bringing Back Main Street initiative offers local communities a place to share best practices and engage in a regional dialogue about revitalizing and supporting vibrant downtown spaces. Each quarter, community leaders gather for a roundtable on topics ranging from small business support to sidewalk infrastructure.

Registration is requested, but not required, to attend.

For additional information, contact Andrea Tantillo. 
Parks and Natural Areas Roundtable Field Trip May 18 (In-Person)

Join us for the Parks and Natural Areas Roundtable field trip on Thursday, May 18, for a tour of Cypress Creek Park at Timber Lane. We will learn more about this award-winning park and community center.  

We will meet at 11:30 a.m. at the Community Center at 1904 Naplechase Crest Dr., Spring. 

Lunch will be provided. Tours of the community center, fire lookout tower, Herman Little Park, and Mercer-Timber Lane Park will follow from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. 

We will meet at the community center, and transportation to the event is not provided. However, registration by May 11 is required for lunch and on-site transportation during the tours. 

For additional information, contact Andrea Tantillo. 
Partner Announcements
AARP Livable Communities written around bicyclists pedestrians bus and housing
AARP Community Challenge Grant Applications Now Open
The application period is now open for the 7th annual AARP Community Challenge quick-action grant program. Funding is available for local governments and nonprofits that are eager and ready to work on a community-improving project that can be started and completed before year’s end. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, March 15.
Keep Texas Beautiful Beautify Texas Awards Applications Due March 23
The Keep Texas Beautiful Beautify Texas Awards recognize efforts made by individuals and organizations to enhance their communities and protect the Texas environment. Applications will be accepted through Thursday, March 23. Winners will be announced in May 2023 and recognized at the annual Keep Texas Beautiful Conference in June 2023. There are four individual and six organizational awards recognizing leadership, volunteerism, education, sound environmental business principles, and civic contributions. 
APATX Houston Section letters on a field of blue
APA Houston Section to Open Annual Awards Nominations Soon
The Houston Section of the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association’s annual awards program will open for nominations in March. More details about the awards, including categories and eligible project types, will be available on the Houston APA website when the call opens and distributed via the APA Houston February newsletter. The call for awards applications will be open through the end of April, and award winners will be notified early this summer. The awards program recognizes planning excellence in the Houston Section. The categories and criteria are designed to match the state and national awards programs for ease of submittal and to give people the opportunity to use local awards for promotion and when pursuing funding or other awards. 
Conservation, Agriculture Grants - Deadlines March 27 and April 24
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for one agriculture innovation grant program and two conservation grants programs.
The Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Grants program is a competitive program that supports the initiation or expansion of efforts to urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural practices including community gardens and farms; rooftop farms, outdoor vertical production, and green walls, and hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic farm facilities. The deadline for applications is Monday, March 27. The Texas Partners for Conservation program leverage NRCS and partner resources in applying voluntary conservation throughout Texas. This program is intended to provide NRCS workload assistance and support. Agreement funding can range from $25,000 to $200,000. The Conservation Innovation Grants program is a competitive program that supports the development of new tools, approaches, practices, and technologies to further natural resource conservation on private lands. The deadline for applications for both conservation programs is Monday, April 24. 
2023 official artwork by F.P. Bennett (Black-and-white Warbler)
Great Texas Birding Classic Habitat Conservation Grants - Deadline May 1
The mission of the annual Great Texas Birding Classic is to increase appreciation, understanding, and conservation of birds through education, recreation, nature tourism, and conservation fundraising. The Birding Classic is a cost-recovery event, so once minimal event costs are covered by sponsorships and registration fees all remaining funds go to conservation grants in Texas. Conservation grants in the amounts of $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000 can be used to fund nature tourism and avian habitat restoration, enhancement, and acquisition projects anywhere in the state. Proposed activities may include projects on public or private lands, but all projects must provide some level of public access. The deadline for proposals is Monday, May 1. 
state of Texas alliance for recycling logo
STAR 2023 Scholarships for Sustainability Applications Open
The State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR) 2023 Scholarships for Sustainability applications are now open. As a part of STAR’s commitment to the growth of the environmental and recycling business community in Texas, STAR offers annual environmental sustainability scholarships for students, teachers, and student groups. The Student Scholarship aids up to two high school seniors or college students planning to study or working toward a degree in Environmental Sustainability or other related field. The Student Group and Teacher Scholarship supports up to two educators at any level of public education in Texas and one officially recognized student group at any Texas university, college, or community college. More details are available online. The deadline to apply is Thursday, June 1.
More Upcoming Events
1093 Rails to Trails Public Meeting – March 7
The 1093 Rails to Trails Local Government Corporation will host the first of a series of public meetings from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, at the Eagle Lake Community Center, 100 N. Walnut Avenue, Eagle Lake. Five local governments--Austin County and the cities of Eagle Lake, Fulshear, Wallis, and Weston Lakes--have joined together as a local government corporation to plan and build a 31-mile shared-use trail along a former rail line alongside FM 1093 from Fulshear to Eagle Lake, connecting several Texas towns along the way. Together, these municipalities envision a shared-use trail that is safe and accessible for cyclists and pedestrians. This meeting will be a chance to learn more about the project and provide feedback that may be incorporated into the design and branding of the trail. The next meeting in the series will be Tuesday, April 11, in Wallis. Learn more online. 
Texas Farm-to-School Learning Collaborative Webinar – March 9
Representatives from the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) Farm Fresh Initiative and the Sustainable Food Center will host a webinar from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, to provide more about U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Grant, which should open in the fall. Attendees will learn how the grant program works, what can be funded, and how to apply. Registration is required.
Adopt a Beach wordmark with water icon
Adopt-A-Beach Coastwide Cleanup – April 22
Save the date for the Adopt-A-Beach Spring Cleanup on Saturday, April 22, at various Texas beaches. This annual event by the Texas General Land Office encourages volunteers to help keep beaches clean. Since the program began in 1986, more than 529,000 volunteers have removed 9,600 tons of trash from Texas beaches. Registration and a list of cleanup locations are available online. 
Keep Texas Beautiful Conference – June 26-28
Registration is open for the Keep Texas Beautiful Annual Conference June 26-28 in Houston. Keep Texas Beautiful is a network of Texans working together to make the state the best place to live, work, and play. Local partners and affiliates are equipped with tools they need to help clean up and prevent litter across the state. The annual conference is an opportunity for participants to share, learn, and celebrate local, regional, and state accomplishments and programs and includes networking, field trips, educational sessions, awards presentations, and exhibits. 
Funding Sources
Funding Sources

H-GAC's Community and Environmental Planning Department maintains a list of ongoing funding opportunities for parks improvements and conservation projects.

If you know of a funding opportunity, forward it to Andrea Tantillo.

All content, including links to websites, is for informational purposes only. Users of this content are responsible for checking its accuracy, currency, and suitability.
More Information and Programs
Mapping Applications
Looking for interactive applications or GIS data related to the H-GAC Community and Environmental Planning Department? Visit H-GAC's interactive applications web page.

H-GAC has a Facebook page where information about current and upcoming events is posted. Please visit and like H-GAC's page. While there, visit other H-GAC pages on Facebook, including Recycling, and Trash Bash.
illustration of prairie
Conservation Note of the Month

Prairies - The Houston-Galveston Region has 1.6 million acres of prairies which improve air quality by filtering pollutants. Infographics and posters highlighting the benefits of prairies are available online in the Regional Conservation initiative Conservation Tool.
Unless otherwise noted, all meetings scheduled at H-GAC are at 3555 Timmons Lane, Houston, Texas. In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, H-GAC will provide reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities attending H-GAC functions. Requests should be received 72 business hours prior to the function. Contact the meeting organizer to make arrangements.

Banner Photo by Marcus Tantillo. Would you like us to consider featuring your municipality, program, or regional photo on the C&E Planning Update banner? Just forward your picture to Andrea Tantillo, along with some information about the subject and the photographer, and you might see it in a future month's newsletter.
Houston-Galveston Area Council