Nov 10

The Woodlands focusing reforestation efforts in Village of Creekside Park

by Hannah Zedaker

This article originally appeared in Community Impact Newspaper 

The Woodlands Township and The Woodlands Development Company will concentrate reforestation efforts in the Village of Creekside Park in 2017. This practice is in accordance with The Woodlands founder George Mitchell’s environmentally centered vision, according to township and Development Company officials.

As outlined in The Woodlands’ Integrated Forestry Management Plan, created in 2003 and revised in 2013, reforestation is one of the cornerstones of sustaining Mitchell’s vision for The Woodlands more than four decades after its establishment.

"We use the term ‘reforestation’ when we plant trees in the township-owned, -operated or -managed parks, reserves and other common areas,” said Chris Nunes, The Woodlands Township parks and recreation director. "The township parks and recreation [department] monitors areas where there may have been a significant loss of trees due to drought, disease, vine removal or just tree mortality. From these areas our arborist will review and develop a planting plan, which includes a variety of native trees.”

Reforestation is funded annually through the township’s general fund under the forest management portion of the budget. Approved in September, the fiscal year 2016-17 budget allocates $618,000 for this initiative, $414,000 of which will be used solely for reforestation efforts.

"One of the main tenets of Mr. Mitchell’s vision was to maintain the natural forested environment,” Nunes said. "Over the years, the township board has made a significant commitment to this by allocating dollars to reforestation and overall forest

Forested areas in The Woodlands are still striving to recover from the drought conditions that affected the Greater Houston area in 2011, Nunes said. However, with the help of heavy rainfall experienced in 2015-16, he said the forest is making strides in recovery.

Between 2004-12, a forest canopy study revealed that The Woodlands lost 11 percent of its forested area, dropping from 20,904 acres to 18,593 acres in eight years. A significant portion of this loss was attributed to development around the villages of Sterling Ridge and Creekside Park, according to the study.

In this timeframe, most villages experienced loss in canopy acreage, with the exception of Cochran’s Crossing, Harper’s Landing and Alden Bridge. Creekside Park experienced one of the most significant losses with a 26.12 percent decrease in canopy acreage during this time period, prompting the need for concentrated efforts in the area.

"In much of the Village of Creekside Park, land was purchased from previous owners who had cleared their property prior to selling to the Development Company,” said Robert Heineman, vice president of planning for the Development Company. "The Woodlands Development Company planted 900,000 seedlings on 1,250 acres of cleared pastureland in the Village of Creekside Park. Over the years, these trees have reforested Creekside Park, and hundreds of trees have also been transplanted to other parts of The Woodlands to augment forest preserves where needed.”

This year’s reforestation efforts will concentrate on community culs-de-sacs and reserves in Creekside Park, along Creekside Forest Drive and Creekside Green Drive, Nunes said. Additionally, efforts will also be focused along Kuykendahl Road, Grogans Mill Road and Lake Woodlands Drive, Heineman said.

The management plan, which also takes into consideration wildfire risk, invasive species, hazard tree management and drought along with reforestation, enforces a policy of planting two trees for every tree removed.

Nunes and Heineman said this policy and the reforestation efforts are a reflection of Mitchell’s original vision for the master-planned community. 

"The [landscaping and reforestation] standards have been updated several times over the years, and in every revision, the standards have been strengthened by adding new standards and adding clarification to existing standards,” Heineman said. "The original goal was to preserve 25 percent of the land area in open space; the current plan achieves this goal and preserves 28 percent of the land area of The Woodlands in open space.”

This article originally appeared in Community Impact Newspaper 


Landscaping, Residents