Natural Resources & Nature Preserves
The Houston Parks and Recreation Department is committed to preserving and protecting the natural resources of the City of Houston’s park system for present and future generations. To this end they have tasked the Greenspace Management Division with the creation of the Natural Resources Program (NRMP) to manage the oversite of the department’s natural areas within parks.
The Natural Resources Management Program (NRMP) works to preserve the biodiversity and natural heritage of Houston and surrounding areas by supporting green space preservation, protecting and restoring natural communities, and cultivating a sense of environmental awareness through research, education, and stewardship. Within Houston’s urban environment, there are significant green spaces and natural resource areas. HPARD owns and manages an extensive network of parks and green spaces including 381 parks encompassing over 25,000 acres in and around Houston. Of those 381 parks, 80 have been identified as having natural areas, which total over 16,000 acres.
RESILIENT HOUSTON TREE
CITY OF HOUSTON TREE LIST
RESILIENT HOUSTON TREE PLANTING PORTALResilient Houston focuses on the pressing challenges and opportunities that will shape Houstonians’ lives today and for future generations. Their are18 Targets outlined in the strategy that will be used to measure the impact of Resilient Houston.
One of the targets that is currently being implemented is the planting of 4.6 million new native trees by 2030.
To track progress on the 4.6 Million tree planting goal, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department is hosting the Resilient Houston Tree Planting Portal to collect data on all tree plantings within the City of Houston.
To register your tree planting on Resilient Houston Tree Planting Portal please fill out the form at https://forms.office.com/g/C5FvvMSsWb.
NATURAL AREA ORDINANCEThe Natural Area Ordinance was created under Chapter 32-10 of the City of Houston Code of Ordinances to address natural area creation on private land. This allows for citizens to create and maintain natural habitats, including native plantings in their yards. There is no requirement that a Natural Area Permit be obtained prior to the creation and maintenance of a Natural Area. However, the existence of a Natural Area Permit can be a defense to a complaint or prosecution for violation of City ordinance. If you would like to create wildlife friendly habitat in your yard, please see the links below:
- Natural Area Permit Application
- Natural Area Policy
- Invasive Species of Houston
- Sample Site Plan
- Sample Maintenance Plan
NATURE PRESERVESHouston City Council has approved a Nature Preserve Ordinance to protect 7,423 acres of natural habitat in City of Houston parks. The ordinance protects land within 26 parks with a focus on habitat protection and passive recreation. The nature preserves will help mitigate flooding, store carbon, reduce urban heat island effects, improve air and water quality, and provide educational opportunities for the public.
See below for a list of the 26 nature preserves. For more information on the Nature Preserve Ordinance:
RIPARIAN RESTORATION INITIATIVEHistorically, Houston’s bayou systems were outlined with strips of forested habitat, and the trees along the waterway would stabilize the banks of the bayou, improve the water quality, and provide wildlife habitat. Through the Riparian Restoration Initiative, the NRMP will install new riparian forests or will improve the quality of existing riparian forests across the city, reaching over 70 parks and 1,000 acres of park land. This initiative was announced by the Mayor in February 2020 and was included in the Houston Climate Action Plan.
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIESPlant Propagation:
The NRMP has two volunteer groups that help us propagate native plants. These volunteers sow seeds, bump plants up into larger pots, and help keep our plants free of weeds. We depend on our amazing volunteers to keep our plant propagation program running! All volunteer opportunities require registration by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Memorial Park Greenhouse volunteer days
- Second and fourth Thursday of each month
- 9:00 a.m. to noon
- 6501 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX 77007
- Second Wednesday of each month
- 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
- 16830 Diana Lane, Houston, TX 77058
The NRMP hosts multiple tree planting and prairie planting events every year, mostly in the spring and fall months. In addition, we have regular volunteer workdays in the prairie at Sylvan Rodriguez Park. All volunteer opportunities require registration by emailing email@example.com.
- Second Wednesday of each month
- 8:30-11:30 a.m.
- 1201 Clear Lake City Blvd, Houston, TX 77062
- 3rd Thursday of each month
- 8:30-11:00 a.m.
- 158 Mississippi St, Houston, TX, 77029
PRAIRIE RESTORATIONPrior to the settlement of Houston, the dominant habitat of our area was Coastal Prairie, an ecosystem characterized by large bunch grasses and colorful wildflowers. Prairies depend on herbivores, like the American Bison, and frequent wildfires in order to thrive. Without these forces, prairies can easily turn into forests dominated by invasive species. Coastal Prairie habitat has declined due to development and human intervention and is now one of the rarest habitats in North America. The NRMP is actively restoring prairie habitat in five city parks! Click the links below to learn about our prairie restoration projects:
- Sylvan Rodriguez Park
- Robert C. Stuart Park
- Clinton Park
- Hobart Taylor Park
- Blackhawk Park
CITY OF HOUSTON TREE LISTThe Houston Parks and Recreation Department recently created the Tree Protection Committee, a collaborative group of parks staff from both Urban Forestry and Natural Resources. The Tree Protection Committee began a review of the Street Tree and Park Tree ordinances and has created a new species list for tree plantings. The new tree list will ensure that only native tree species are installed in our parks and streets. Native species are well adapted to our climate and therefore will require less water, provide habitat for wildlife, and will survive in the harsh urban environment. Check back soon for the new tree lists!
- Right-of-Way Tree List
- Park Tree List
- Parking Lot Tree List
- Natural Area Tree List
- Protected Trees Master List
- Native Tree List Revision Methods
- Tree Protection Committee Policy (Coming Soon)
MAYOR’S MONARCH PLEDGEIn 2016, Mayor Turner signed the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayor’s Monarch Pledge! The City of Houston has committed to take action to help save the monarch butterfly, whose population has steeply declined over the last two decades. The Natural Resources Management Program is working on meeting the action items identified in the pledge. The action items involve community engagement, demonstration gardens, habitat creation, and systems change. The City of Houston is currently meeting the following action items:
- Yearly participation in a native plant sale along with the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center and Houston Audubon
- Milkweed seed collection and propagation.
- Native garden planted at the City Hall Annex with milkweeds and other native plants.
- Completed the NWF Community Wildlife Habitat Certification.
- Pollinator plants and milkweeds included in several HPARD Community Gardens.
- Active invasive species management in HPARD’s prairie restoration sites.
- The Natural Area Ordinance (Ch.32-10) allows for citizens to create a more pollinator friendly habitat in their yard, by reducing the restrictions on mow height.
- Park policy amended to only allow for native tree species in city parks and streets.
View all Action Item descriptions here.
NATURE TRAIL MAPSThe NRMP is currently working to map out all of the nature trails in our parks. Please see the links below for the maps that have been completed so far, and make sure to check back as we add more! We hope you can use these maps as inspiration to check out new parks and experience nature.
BIRD CITY TEXASIn 2020, the City of Houston was officially certified as a Bird City Texas Community by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Audubon Texas. Bird City Texas is a new certification program that recognizes leadership in bird conservation and community engagement. The City of Houston, led by the Natural Resources Management program and in partnership with Houston Audubon, applied for the certification by compiling various bird conservation and education efforts throughout the city. Moving forward, the Natural Resources Management Program will continue to work on meeting the objectives involved in our certification. Learn more about Bird City and other bird-related topics below.