PUBLISHED: January 24, 2022 By Ethan Placke, HPB Conservation Technician
QUIZ: DO YOU KNOW WHAT A WETLAND IS?
A WETLAND IS A DISTINCT ECOSYSTEM THAT IS FLOODED BY WATER, EITHER PERMANENTLY OR SEASONALLY, THAT CAN SUPPORT BOTH AQUATIC AND TERRESTRIAL SPECIES. WETLANDS, ALONG WITH FORESTS AND PRAIRIES ARE AMONG THE MOST THREATENED ECOSYSTEMS IN HOUSTON AND THROUGHOUT TEXAS. THESE SYSTEMS ARE CONSIDERED AMONG THE MOST DIVERSE SYSTEMS IN THE WORLD. BY RESTORING THESE HABITATS, HOUSTON PARKS BOARD IS PROVIDING A HAVEN FOR WILDLIFE AND HELPING OUR REGION MOVE TOWARDS A MORE PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE WITH NATURE IN AN URBAN SETTING.
MEET HOUSTON’S NEWEST WETLAND
At Thomas Bell Foster Park, 12895 Greens Bayou St, Houston, TX 77015, Houston Parks Board is using an ecosystem-based approach, relying on historical habitat data, that benefits the largest amount of native wildlife by providing a highly diverse habitat. The land offers unique ecological opportunities for conservation, and restoration projects can be found throughout the park.
WETLAND SYSTEMS ARE EXCELLENT WAYS TO MITIGATE THE IMPACT OF FLOODING.
The projects at Thomas Bell Foster Park span 6.6 acres and provide ecosystem services of treating storm water and absorbing air pollutants. The plants in the park absorb air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, and some particulates, reducing the impacts they have on residents’ cardiovascular and respiratory systems, potentially reducing health-care costs.
Taking advantage of the natural sloping land, Houston Parks Board created a wetland at Thomas Bell Foster Park to capture storm water and provide habitat for dragonflies and small wading birds. A small amount of excavation coupled with the removal of sod created the basin into which volunteers planted hundreds of native wetland plants. We anticipate the wetland to be fully vegetated by Fall 2022, requiring little to no additional help from our conservation staff.
The additional conservation goals for Thomas Bell Foster Park include addressing invasive species encroachment, restoring degraded habitat, planting native riparian habitats, and addressing the overall loss of diversity.
Thomas Bell Foster Conservation Project Goals:
- Restore 1.57 Acres of woodland/riparian area
- Plant 1.33 Acres of native landscape
- Restore .75 Acres of prairie
- Restore 1.06 Acres of wetlands