News Categories: Featured

19 Feb
By: Communications 0

Humble ISD’s Mosaic Program Adopts Trail

Students with Humble ISD’s Mosaic program recently traveled to Jones Park to officially kick off their participation in the park’s Adopt-A-Trail Program. As part of their commitment, students will dedicate at least one year to removing invasive species and clearing the area along Jones Park’s River Birch Trail.

The Mosaic program, which serves special education students over 18, provides learning and recreational opportunities for program participants transitioning into adulthood. Students practice independent living and social skills, gain real-world job experience, and volunteer in the community. Tim Craig, a paraeducator with the Mosaic Program, selected Jones Park’s Adopt-A-Trail Program to fulfill the volunteering component of the program.

“The outdoors has always brought me so much joy, and I wanted to share that passion with our Mosaic students,” said Craig. “Volunteering in the community is something our students can take ownership in, inspiring stewardship and service.”

Jones Park’s Adopt-A-Trail Program is an opportunity for groups of all sizes and types to sponsor a section of Jones Park’s extensive trail system. Sponsoring groups commit to maintaining a trail by controlling invasive, non-native plants and conducting selective vegetation management. The initial workday begins with a short training session in invasive-plant identification and removal. Each group dedicates a minimum of one year to maintaining their trail by conducting a 3- to 4-hour volunteer workday approximately every three months.

“The trail adoption program is a great opportunity for those who are trying to get outdoors more,” said Jones Park Volunteer Coordinator Kim Hammond. “The students will be helping improve the park for both guests and native wildlife.”

Any organization or group can adopt a trail, including scouts, schools, churches, home-school groups, conservation organizations, and companies in need of volunteer hours for its employees. There is no maximum or minimum size group, as each is assigned a section of Jones Park’s trail system based on the number of participants.

If your organization or group is interested in adopting a trail, contact Jones Park staff at 281-446-8588 or at jjp@hcp4.net.

Jones Park staff wishes to thank all the groups that take part in our Adopt-A-Trail program, including Holy Trinity Episcopal School, Jesse Jones Park Volunteers, Robbins Chevrolet & Nissan, and YES Prep. Your commitment helps Jones Park remain in a natural and native state for the benefit of wildlife and park visitors.

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04 Feb
By: Communications 0

Mercer Botanic Gardens Seeks March Mart Volunteers

Preparations are underway for Mercer’s largest plant sale of the year! Help us create a bigger, better event by becoming a March Mart volunteer!

“We are taking March Mart back to what it was prior to the floods of 2016 and 2017,” says Kitt Burnsides, now in her fourth year as March Mart chair. “All growing groups are back up and running and seeking more volunteers. We are growing more plants from seed and plugs than in past years, so more help is needed.”

Greenhouse volunteers ages 16 and up are needed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and select Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon in February and March. Volunteer opportunities at the greenhouses include repotting plants, weeding existing potted plants, moving plants, watering, and more. Volunteers can help in various stages of growing and plant maintenance.

“We have thousands of plants at our greenhouses, and we’re adding more weekly,” says Brandon Hubbard, a grower for The Mercer Society. “The collection includes shade plants, trees and shrubs, gingers, annuals and perennials, natives, roses, vegetables, herbs, and fruit.”

Youth and adult volunteers also can volunteer during March Mart Friday, March 15, and Saturday, March 16.

“There are plenty of opportunities at March Mart, including volunteer check-in, plant ticket writing, wagon check-out, hospitality and more,” says Jamie Hartwell, Mercer volunteer coordinator.

To volunteer for the March Mart plant sale or inquire about opportunities, please complete a March Mart application here.

Applications also are available at the Mercer Botanic Gardens office at 22306 Aldine Westfield Road in Humble and Mercer Botanical Center at 25240 Aldine Westfield Road (at the corner of Aldine Westfield and Titleist Drive) in Spring.

“We hope these new Saturday hours give students, adults, and seniors an opportunity to volunteer when it doesn’t conflict with school or work,” Hubbard says. “Many students seek community service hours for school, and this gives them another option.”

For more information, click here.

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25 Jan
By: HCP4 Admin 0

Why Your Watershed Matters

When it comes to knowing your flood risk, your watershed may matter more than you think. All the rain that falls in your watershed heads to a common waterway through a system of bayous, tributaries, and streams.

Problems occur when any waterway, basin, or reservoir in the system becomes overwhelmed. During Harvey, record-breaking rain overwhelmed drainage systems throughout the region, causing widespread flooding. Following an evaluation of the county’s current flood control system, experts recommended billions in improvements.

In June, Harris County Commissioners Court approved a $2.5 billion bond election on Aug. 25 to fund additional flood control projects. In the months leading up to the election, Harris County Flood Control District has developed a list of more than 150 potential projects in the county’s 23 watersheds. Since Precinct 4 contains 11 of these watersheds, many projects will affect Precinct 4 residents directly.

Knowing the bodies of water that affect your area will help you make an informed decision during the election. To learn about potential projects in your watershed, click here. For a complete list of proposed projects, click here.

HCFCD is hosting a series of public meetings through Aug. 1 about the 2018 Harris County Flood Control District Bond Program. Bring your questions and ideas. You can look up the meeting date for your watershed here.

Once the meetings conclude, county officials will finalize the bond package and present it to voters.

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22 Jan
By: HCP4 Admin 0

Want to Make a Difference? Become a Volunteer!

Start your year off right by becoming a Precinct 4 volunteer! Opportunities are available through Precinct 4’s Legacy Tree Program, Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center, and Mercer Botanic Gardens.

Join Precinct 4’s Legacy Tree Program to care for heirloom fruit and nut trees along the trails or foster a historic tree at home. Volunteers are also needed to help restore and maintain our forests. With your help, Precinct 4’s Legacy Tree Program can create healthier forests and natural areas, which leads to stronger, more beautiful communities. For more information, email legacy@hcp4.net.

Love history and nature? Volunteer at Jones Park! Currently, Jones Park is seeking volunteers for Homestead Heritage Day Saturday, Feb. 9. Anyone interested in depicting the past or helping with other festival activities is invited to apply. Opportunities are also available to work at future festivals or along the trails in nature. To learn more about becoming a volunteer at Jones Park, click here. https://www.hcp4.net/Community/Parks/Jones/Volunteers

Mercer Botanic Gardens is seeking volunteers in preparation for the March Mart plant sale Thursday, March 14 through Saturday, March 16. Different shifts are available. Join the VIP Plant Preview Committee to assist with event planning, decorating, set-up and take-down, or help during the event.

Volunteers can also sign up for volunteer check-in, plant ticket writing, wagon check-out, hospitality and more during the event.

Mercer offers additional volunteer opportunities year-round every Tuesday and Thursday.
To learn more about volunteering at Mercer, click here.

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14 Nov
By: HCP4 Admin 0

Exploring Mercer’s West Side Arboretum

Taking the path less traveled at Mercer Botanic Gardens leads to amazing sites! Escape the crowds and head to Mercer’s West Side Arboretum for views of native plants, wildlife, and natural scenery. Continue reading to learn about what you’ll find on Mercer’s West Side.

Hickory Bog

Located just across the street from the East Side Gardens, Mercer’s Hickory Bog features a 280-foot bridge and learning platform overlooking a thriving wetland ecosystem.

Reptiles, small mammals, birds, and amphibians of all varieties populate the area, making this adventurous trail perfect for birders, nature enthusiasts, scientists, and anyone who wants close-up views of nature.

Contrary to its name, Mercer’s Hickory Bog is technically a swamp because of its ability to support woody vegetation and trees. The name Hickory Bog caught on early in Mercer’s history due to the area’s location within a water hickory forest (Carya aquatica).

Cypress Swamp

Home to dozens of varieties of aquatic wildlife and birds, Mercer’s Cypress Swamp is named after the distinctive bald cypress trees (Taxodium distichum) that inhabit the area.

These long-lived deciduous trees can grow up to 120 feet tall with a trunk measuring 4 to 6 feet in diameter and woody projections known as “knees” that grow up to 4 feet tall and project out of the water. In the fall, the tree’s needle-like leaves turn an attractive bronze color before dropping.

Botanists are still unable to determine which cypress trees will produce knees or why. Many believe the knees anchor trees in wet areas and provide oxygen to the tree’s roots for survival in swampy conditions.

Swamp Ecosystem

Far from drab and murky, these locations feature a variety of flowering plants attractive to moths and other pollinators. As understory plants, most produce white blooms to help them stand out in shady areas.

The shore milkweed (Asclepias perennis), a water-loving Monarch butterfly host plant with creamy pink-white flowers, blooms on the edges of the swamps. Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), a large shrub with sparkly-white balls of flowers, is a butterfly and pollinator magnet. In the wetter areas, lizard tail (Saururus cernuus) is a vigorous water plant with fragrant, drooping, white flower clusters.

Swamps also feature a variety of trees and shrubs, such as the bald cypress, sweet gum, red maple, wax myrtle, and buttonwood, which are frequently found in cypress swamps.

These plants and trees support wildlife such as white-tailed deer, raccoons, pileated woodpeckers, egrets, herons, alligators, frogs, turtles, and snakes. Be sure to look for their tracks!

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