H-GAC Announces Parks, Natural Areas Award Winners

The Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Parks and Natural Areas Award competition. These projects serve as models for planning and project implementation for parks and natural areas in the region. Projects were honored in four categories: Policy Tools, Planning Process, On-the-Ground Projects Over $500,000, and On-the-Ground Projects Under $500,000.

Policy Tools 

Winner – Dr. Ned & Fay Dudney Clear Creek Nature Center Management Plan, a project by the City of League City, provides general guidance for the management and maintenance of the 148-acre nature center with coastal flat woods, coastal prairie, scrub/shrub wetlands, freshwater and estuarine wetlands, and fringe habitat.

Planning Process 

Winner – Josey Lake Park, a project by the Howard Hughes Corporation-Bridgeland, functions as stormwater detention infrastructure and creates a regional greenspace for the Bridgeland community linking residential villages and providing pedestrian access to the future town center.

Honorable Mention – Seabourne Creek Park Nature Center, a project by the City of Rosenberg, highlights four distinct ecosystems in the park and educates visitors on sustainable practices, including water storage, water treatment, and wind and solar power.

Projects Over $500,000

Winner – Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve, a project by Harris County Precinct 4, is an 83-acre forested tract and park with fishing piers, paved and natural hiking trails, and a pedestrian bridge over Cypress Creek.

Winner – Yolanda Black Navarro Buffalo Bend Nature Park, a project by Harris County Precinct 2, is a scenic 10-acre green space overlooking Buffalo Bayou with wetland ponds, a cistern, native plantings, and hike and bike trails.

Honorable Mention – Brazos River Park, a project by the City of Sugar Land, is a 420-acre park with a significant wildlife conservation area, open meadows for flexible uses, an overlook/performance stage, lakes, dog park, playground, canoe launch, and miles of trails.

Special Recognition – Galveston Island Historic Seawall Beach Renourishment Project, a project by the Galveston Park Board of Trustees, creates larger beaches for recreation, infrastructure protection, and environmental habitat by placing 1.2 million cubic yards of sand along the Galveston Seawall.

Special Recognition – Japanese Garden Restoration, a project by the Hermann Park Conservancy, is a project to restore the garden to traditional, Japanese style, and includes new landscaping and plantings, a “dry garden,” roof replacements, and pond repairs.

Special Recognition – Patrick’s Bayou Stormwater Detention Basin, a project by the Harris County Flood Control District, is a 43-acre multi-use facility to reduce flood risk in Deer Park where repetitive flooding has caused up to $10 million in losses since 1998.

Projects Under $500,000

Winner – MD Anderson Prairie, a project by MD Anderson Cancer Center, provides restorative ecological benefits featuring native rain gardens, meadows of native prairie grasses, and restored wetlands that contrast with the dense urban surroundings of the Texas Medical Center.

Honorable Mention – Windmill Aeration at Baytown Nature Center’s Golden Bloom Pond, a project by the City of Baytown, provides a sustainable energy option for increasing the aeration of a 1.14-acre, man-made pond, improving its ability to support aquatic life.

Special Recognition – Explore the Wild, a project by the Houston Zoo, is a nature play area with paths, nooks, logs, streams, rocks, trees, and grasses, designed to inspire children of all ages to discover the natural world around them.

Special Recognition –Nature Observation Area at National Oak Park, a project by the City of Alvin, engages residents in active local wildlife observation through onsite education about the wildlife and the ecosystem which sustains it.

Since 2006, the Parks and Natural Areas subcommittee, an extension of H-GAC’s Natural Resources Advisory Committee, has recognized creative and innovative park and natural area projects that implement best management practices in planning, policy, and development.

For information about H-GAC’s Parks and Natural Areas planning program, contact Andrea Tantillo at 832-681-2507 or andrea.tantillo@h-gac.com.

Houston-Galveston Area Council

The Houston-Galveston Area Council (www.h-gac.com) is a voluntary association of local governments in the 13-county Gulf Coast Planning Region—an area of 12,500 square miles and more than 6 million people. H-GAC works to promote efficient and accountable use of local, state, and federal tax dollars and serves as a problem-solving and information forum for local government needs.