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Student Conservation Group Restores Wiess Park

2017 SCA Summer Crew at Wiess Park. From left to right: Marvin Ortega (Chavez HS), Jennifer Leal (YES Prep SW HS), Michael Jimenez (KIPP Generations HS), Grant Dev (Iowa State University), Ulisses Viera (KIPP Generations HS), Chance Bush (Dulles HS), Erick Mora (Challenge Early College HS)

The Houston Parks Board welcomed help from the Student Conservation Association (SCA) this summer to restore the beautifully wooded Wiess Park just off of Loop 610 where HPB offices are located. Houstonians who use the trail will appreciate the SCA team pushing through the humid Houston summer heat to provide valuable site restoration to the Wiess Park nature trail.

SCA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting stewardship of the environment by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land.

“I like helping, not just to pass the time, but to see trail users really appreciate what I’ve done” explains Michael Jimenez. The Summer Community Crew consists of between 6-8 teenagers and 2 adults that carry out trail maintenance in Houston area parks.

Michael Jimenez (left) and Erick Mora (right) haul away brush.

In the summer of 2010, SCA helped create nature trails and a boardwalk in Wiess Park. Over the years, vegetation has overgrown onto the trail and several invasive species such as Chinaberry, Chinese Tallow, Japanese Privet, and Nandina have taken over. This summer, another SCA crew is back at Wiess Park for two weeks to assist with preservation of the trails by restoring them to their former glory.

“It’s always good to see the youth get involved in the care and maintenance of our parks”, says Keith Crenshaw, the Natural Resources Manager at HPB. He oversaw the SCA crew work in Wiess Park.

Invasive species such as this Chinese Tallow is an ecological threat to native plants because of its rapid growth and resistance to many pathogens and insects.

The students set out to accomplish three goals: 1) Clear about 4ft. on both sides of the trail and lift the tree canopy height to make way for bicyclers. 2) Cut out and remove vegetative plant species such as Chinese Tallow and Japanese Privet. 3) Clear out vines and overgrowth across from the HPB Office.

“The crew is working hard and fills up a trailer load of debris every day," Crenshaw remarked.

The Finished Product

The completed trail is free from overhanging brush from all sides. Two people can walk side by side without any obstruction.

Environmental education is all about getting people to move from awareness into action and this Summer, the SCA Crew is doing just that.