News Categories: Featured

14 Nov
By: HCP4 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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30 May
By: HCP4 0

Jones Park Wetlands Help Control Flooding

While flood control has become a major priority in recent months, Jones Park has long preserved one of the area’s original flood control systems: wetlands.

In the Houston area, rainwater runoff is channeled through a system of streams and tributaries east into the San Jacinto River and finally south to Galveston Bay. Some of this rain collects in wetlands, which support a variety of plant and animal species.

Located along Spring and Cypress creeks and near the West Fork of the San Jacinto River, Jones Park features an extensive wetland system of floodplain forests, cypress ponds, swamps, and creeks.

These wetlands act as a buffer for surrounding neighborhoods and help slow and filter floodwaters. Areas near these wetlands may benefit from natural flood mitigation and erosion control, which can significantly prevent property damage and even save lives.

Wetlands at Jones Park

While devastating to homes, vehicles, and businesses, floods can be beneficial in the right environment. In nature, floodwaters can revitalize existing wetlands, reshape the land, and create new habitats. Even now, the natural process of flooding and erosion continues to change the land physically and environmentally, although abundant vegetation can help stabilize creek banks and slow this process.

For example, Jones Park’s popular cypress bogs, originally part of Spring Creek, formed over thousands of years of flooding, erosion, and other wind and weather events. As the land changed, plant and animal life suited to soggy conditions moved into the area.

Today, visitors can access the bogs at Jones Park through an elevated boardwalk system, where they can view 400-year-old cypress trees, protruding cypress knees, and a variety of plant and animal life. Bald cypress trees are one of the few trees that can grow year-round in standing water. These “knees” are an adaptation that helps it survive in its watery habitat.

Plants and animals commonly found along the Boardwalk Trail include turtles, frogs, snakes, waterfowl, fish, and mammals. After a heavy rain, visitors can spot these creatures in abundance. Migrating birds also visit wetlands to rest and feed during their cross-continental journeys and as nesting sites.

Often called nurseries of life, wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems. According to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, up to 90 percent of Texas’ saltwater and freshwater fish species depend on wetlands for food, spawning, and nursery grounds.

Recreation 

Not only are wetlands beneficial, but they can also be recreational. They are great locations for fishing, canoeing, hiking, and bird-watching, and they make wonderful outdoor classrooms for people of all ages. They provide recreation to area residents and habitat to native wildlife.

Want to help Jones Park maintain this beautiful area? Contact Debbie Banfield at 281-446-8588 or dbanfield@hcp4.net for more information on volunteer opportunities at the park.

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15 May
By: HCP4 0

Wilson Road Improvements

Commuters traveling through the Humble and Atascocita areas can look forward to new lanes opening on Wilson Road in 2019.

Plans include widening a section of Wilson Road between Beltway 8 and Atascocita Road from a two-lane asphalt roadway to a four-lane concrete section with a sidewalk between Humble ISD’s Park Lakes Elementary and Viscaro Lane. Construction began in January and is scheduled for completion on Oct. 29, 2019.

“Once construction is complete, drivers should see their commute times drop significantly, especially during rush-hour traffic,” says Capital Improvements Projects Director Pamela Rocchi. “The upgraded roadway will also require less maintenance, since concrete has a longer lifespan than asphalt.”

While construction continues on Wilson Road, north and southbound drivers can take Woodland Hills Drive to access Beltway 8, Atascocita Road, Will Clayton, and FM 1960. The roadway opened in January to help relieve congestion along West Lake Houston Parkway and Wilson Road.
The Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) Division administers and manages Precinct 4’s Capital Improvement Projects Program. To stay updated on projects, visit www.hcp4.net/community/roadsbridges.

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15 May
By: HCP4 0

Heritage Festival 2018

Harris County Precinct 4 invites the public to learn about Tomball’s unique history during the Spring Creek Park Heritage Festival Saturday, May 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. rain or shine at Spring Creek Park in Tomball.

Attendees can participate in archaeology digs, view Civil War battle re-enactments, and tour a historic cemetery. The event will also include weapons and cultural demonstrations, storytellers, activities, and food trucks. Park visitors are also encouraged to visit historical markers highlighting the park’s history.

“We want to recognize the historical impact and diverse cultures of this area,” said Commissioner R. Jack Cagle. “By taking a look at the past, we can continue to learn, grow, and make progress.”

Located in one of Harris County’s most historical areas, Spring Creek Park encompasses a former confederate powder mill, African-American cemetery, and Native American campground. Over the years, researchers have found artifacts and structures from many different populations over the years, including Native American tribes dating back 2,000 years.

“Spring Creek Park is possibly the only park with confirmed archeological finds that show involvement from so many diverse groups of people,” said Janet Wagner, chair of the Harris County Historical Commission.

“The park was used as a Spanish campsite between 1772 and 1818, an early 19th century plantation, a sawmill, an African-American cemetery, a Civil-war era powder mill, and a German farming community.”

With leadership from Commissioner R. Jack Cagle, Spring Creek Park is a Harris County Precinct 4 Parks facility located at 15012 Brown Road, Tomball, Texas, 77375.

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