Since Hurricane Harvey, Buffalo Bayou Partnership has been focused on cleanup efforts along Buffalo Bayou. We hope this update will provide you with valuable information, show you the challenges that we have been facing, and give you a glimpse of how hard our maintenance staff is working.
BUFFALO BAYOU PARK AND DOWNTOWN
As we’ve mentioned previously, Hurricane Harvey left us with the tale of two parks. The upper portion of Buffalo Bayou Park fared extremely well with very little damage, while the lower areas were greatly impacted. Since Harvey, we’ve been hard at work clearing trails, stockpiling large amounts of sediment, removing trash and plastic bags from the trees and repairing lights. Here is a rundown on where we stand:
Buffalo Bayou Park Concrete Trails (Sandy Reed Memorial Trail)
These trails are open from Shepherd Drive to Sabine Street. However, we do have equipment working in nearby areas so please use these trails with caution.
Buffalo Bayou Park Asphalt Footpaths
- Southside Portion Open: Westside from Carruth Bridge to Rosemont Bridge
- Southside Portion Closed: Crosby Outfall to below Eleanor Tinsley Park and from Rosemont Bridge west to McGovern Cascade
- Northside Portion Open: West of Great Small Trees area to west of the Scurloock Foundation Overlook and Tapley Tributary to Sabine Street
- Northside Portion Closed: Jackson Hill Bridge to Tapley Tributary
- Southside Trail Open: Sabine Street to Allen’s Landing
- Northside Trail Open: Sabine Street to Preston Street (just below the Aquarium)
- Northside Trail Closed: Preston Street to University of Houston-Downtown
RESERVOIR RELEASES AND TRAIL EROSION
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ended the releases from the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs a week ago. Due to the high water levels we experienced for nearly six weeks, numerous footpaths in Buffalo Bayou Park have suffered erosion. We are currently in discussions with Harris County Flood Control District representatives about needed repairs. Other areas along the downtown stretch of Buffalo Bayou also experienced trail erosion.
The majority of our maintenance crew’s time has been spent removing silt and stockpiling it for hauling. We have gone through a very thorough process to test the silt, following the policy guidance of the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD). We were pleased to learn after testing that the silt can be handled without special measures, and so, beginning Monday, October 23 Sprint Sand and Clay, with the assistance of Millis Construction, the Buffalo Bayou Park construction contractor, will be hauling off the silt for disposal. We expect the hauling to take several weeks. Please note there also are numerous flood benches in Buffalo Bayou Park that were specifically designed for sediment collection. Sediment removal in these areas is the responsibility of the Harris County Flood Control District.
Hundreds of trees all along Buffalo Bayou were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. We are clearing downed trees, removing trash (particularly plastic bags), and standing up those that are leaning and can be saved. In some cases, we will not know until spring if the trees will survive.
OTHER BUFFALO BAYOU PARK DESTINATIONS AND ACTIVITIES
- Barbara Fish Daniel Nature Play Area: Due to needed stair repairs, this site is currently closed. We expect it to be open within the next three weeks.
- Johnny Steele Dog Park: This site is closed and will remain closed for several months. Please know we are currently discussing adjustments to this area to prevent the on-going damage and the extensive maintenance hours it takes to maintain this site.
- Bike and Canoe/Kayak Rentals: As reported earlier, Bike Barn is fully operational at the Wortham Insurance Visitor Center while Bayou City Adventures has curtailed all boat rentals for the remainder of the year from the Lost Lake Visitor Center.
- The Dunlavy: Please stop by The Dunlavy when you are out and about in the park. The popular café was up and running several days after Hurricane Harvey.
- Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern: We are happy to note that the history tours through this historic water reservoir are taking place Thursday-Sunday. Visit our website at buffalobayou.org to purchase your tickets.
WAUGH DRIVE BRIDGE BAT COLONY
The bats at Waugh Drive Bridge are steadily recovering from Harvey’s flood, staying “Houston Strong.” The bat colony was hit hard and the population is definitely lower, but bats are roosting in many of the bridge’s crevices again. While the weather remains warm (above 50° F), the bats are emerging at or after sunset to hunt for insects across the night sky as usual. Bats roosting at other nearby parking garages and buildings are joining the Waugh Bridge emergence farther down the bayou.
East of downtown, Buffalo Bayou took quite a hit. Several high banks significantly eroded and as a result, trails have been undermined or failed completely. As part of our East Sector master planning project that kicked off in early fall, our hydrology consultants are working with Dr. Phil Bedient, a Rice University civil and environmental engineering professor and director of the Severe Storm Protection, Education and Evacuation from Disaster Center (SSPEED), to develop an understanding of historical channel evolution and past storm events, develop a suite of combined rain/surge/rise conditions, and gathering, evaluating, refining and applying models. This information will be very valuable when we begin our community engagement process at the beginning of 2018. It also will inform design decisions relating to trail and park construction, and housing development along the bayou.
We have been truly gratified by the number of volunteers who have contributed thousands of hours to the Buffalo Bayou cleanup. We could not be making as much as progress as we are were it not for the many individuals, corporate volunteers and school groups that are helping us. If you would like to volunteer, please go to our website www.buffalobayou.org.
We also are thankful for the many people who have supported us financially. In addition to generous Houstonians, we have had individuals from throughout the country send us very thoughtful donations and encouraging words, including the staff at Madison Square Park Conservancy in New York City. When this group saw images of Buffalo Bayou in the media they sent requests to their members asking for donations to assist Buffalo Bayou Partnership with our cleanup.
In closing, please know we are working as swiftly as possible to bring back the beauty of Buffalo Bayou. We ask for your continuing patience and support. For those interested in donating to Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s Harvey clean-up efforts, please click here. Thank you.