The Armand Bayou Watershed drains about 59 square miles of land in southeast Houston. The watershed stretches from highway 225 on the northside, down to Clear Lake. The upper and lower portions have residential developments. The central portion is industrial with some oil and gas production as well as undeveloped agricultural land. Texas A and M University System Associate Professor and Coastal Community Development Specialist John Jacob says there's a lot of potential for conservation. He says the watershed has some of the best natural habitat left.
"There's only about one percent of the coastal prairie, of the entire coastal priarie that's left in the whole Gulf Coast and we've got some of the very best chunks of it left right here in this watershed."
Currently, just under 3,000 of the more than 37,000 acres is protected habitat of one type or another. Jacob says the group has identified another 14,000 high priority acres for habitat protection, flood damage reduction and improve water quality.
"And this is the coastal stream that has a very low threshhold, it's kind of right on the brink, it doesn't take much to tip it to where we get fish kills and get those kinds of problems. We have a lot of fertilizer coming in from lawns and other kinds of run off pollution that comes off the streets, those kind of things."
The Armond watershed crosses many jurisdictions including parts of Houston, Pasadena, Deer Park and LaPorte. Jacob says that makes partnerships all the more important.
"And just for habitat in general there really is no law that would protect them and so that really highlights the importance of citizens coming together and finding a way of doing that. We can't wait for Washington, we can't wait for Austin, we got to take control and do what we can. We don't have all the money in the world but we're going to try to find the best pieces we can and the very, you know, and try to find a way to get some money and save those pieces that are most under threat."
Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.