Photo: Harris County Flood Control Dist
A Harris County Flood Control District study to reduce flooding along Buffalo Bayou between Highway 6 and Beltway 8 is drawing fire from local groups who say improvements could destroy forests there.
Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday voted unanimously to let the flood control district sketch out what a study of that stretch of the bayou would specifically examine. Commissioners Court would have to vote again to green light the actual study.
Susan Chadwick, executive director of non-profit Save Buffalo Bayou, opposed the flood control district’s study.
“It’s not worth the loss of public treasure,” Chadwick said of the forests.
The back-and-forth reflects a long-standing tension over the look and feel of Houston’s bayous. Terry Hershey and other Houston conservationists led a famous and successful push in the 1960’s to prevent the straightening of Buffalo Bayou.
Regarding the flood control district’s current look at Buffalo Bayou, Executive Director Russ Poppe said the district owns right of way averaging about 500 to 600 feet outside the bayou’s banks in that stretch, and could, in theory, add detention, or other features. If so, the district may need to cut down trees that exist there.
The flood control district is also simultaneously conducting another study of vegetation along that stretch of the bayou to classify the plants and trees. For example, some of the vegetation may be invasive, such as Chinese tallow.
Poppe said the city is also considering drainage improvements along Buffalo Bayou, which could impact how much water that drains out of neighborhoods and into the waterway. That could necessitate more detention or other improvements.