I’m really looking forward to seeing how this winds up.
The nonprofit Buffalo Bayou Partnership is overseeing $58 million in ecological restoration and enhancement to upgrade the 2.3-mile stretch between Shepherd and Sabine into a green gem with a slew of amenities and surprisingly diverse landscapes where native plants will star.
The Kinder Foundation’s $30 million catalyst gift launched the ambitious project in the 160 acre-park. The Wortham Foundation’s $5 million moved the partnership closer to its $23 million fundraising goal, and Harris County Flood Control District is contributing $5 million, partnership president Anne Olson said. One of the city’s tax zones will contribute $2 million per year for the park’s maintenance and operations when it’s completed in 2015.
The private-public effort will add trails, pedestrian bridges, public art, a nature playground, two ponds for dogs, quiet areas and recreational spaces and parking.
But one of the project’s key goals is restoring the diversity of landscapes historically found along the bayou.
“We’re trying to keep the park natural and green but take it to a more refined level by removing non-natives and invasives,” Olson said.
The flood control district has been clearing unwanted plants, dredging silt and sculpting bayou banks to improve water flow, decrease murkiness and ease erosion.
I’ve written about this project before, and the more I hear about it the more I can’t wait to see the finished product. If you’ve driven down Allen Parkway lately or were there for the Art Car Parade, you’ve seen some of the progress that they’ve been making. Where things go after the work is done is even more interesting to contemplate. There’s already a B-Cycle kiosk the Sabine end of the bayou; adding another at the Montrose/Studemont entry point, and another at the nearby Regent Square Alamo Drafthouse would be good ideas. Connecting the Bayou at the west end to Memorial Park would also be awesome. Lots to be excited about here.
On a fascinating little tangent, a couple of weeks ago a rare alligator snapping turtle, which had been thought to be extinct in Harris County, was found in the Bayou. It’s since been nursed back to health (it had fish hooks in its mouth) and released in the wild where it belongs. This doesn’t have anything to do with the story, I just thought it was cool.