The Spring Creek Greenway is the largest contiguous, forested urban greenway project in the country. And Bayou Land Conservancy is proud to be the non-profit partner with Montgomery County Precinct 3, Harris County Precinct 4, and the Woodlands Development Co for this unique 33-mile, ultimately 15,000-acre corridor.
Since 1998, Bayou Land Conservancy has been working with both public and private landowners to help fill in large gaps along the Greenway, purchasing development rights in order to permanently protect the critical floodways and floodplains of this area.
The goal of the project is to connect and protect habitat along both sides of Spring Creek. By protecting adjoining tracts of land a “corridor” is created. This corridor serves many important functions, such as improving water quality and preserving important wildlife habitat, while also providing flood buffer zones, where the creek can rise and fall without doing damage to buildings or homes.
The Spring Creek Greenway preserves crucial habitat for a variety of wildlife species. The sloughs, oxbows, and forested wetlands provide critical refuge for thousands of migratory bird species. Species such as the Wood Duck and Red-headed Woodpecker can be found year round, and the Swainson’s Warbler, a small brown songbird that people fly in from all over the world to spot, nests along the stream’s banks. White-tailed deer inhabit the forests, and bobcats, foxes, and coyotes silently prowl this protected corridor. The Greenway also provides important habitat for reptiles and amphibians.
Wildlife diversity is directly impacted by plant communities. The Spring Creek Greenway is home to a wide variety of plant species.
A watershed, defined as all of the land that drains into a particular body of water, is significant everywhere, but particularly for Spring Creek, as this watershed drains into Lake Houston, making it part of the Lake Houston Watershed. Lake Houston is the primary source of Houston’s drinking water. The Houston metropolitan area is the nation’s sixth largest, with 5.9 million residents and it is projected that the population of Harris County alone will exceed 5.5 million people by 2050. For this reason it is crucial to act now in order to protect this water source. The high quality wetlands along Spring Creek act as important buffers that filter groundwater runoff entering Spring Creek, working to help eliminate pollutants before they reach Lake Houston.
The concept of using watershed protection to improve water quality has been demonstrated in other parts of the nation. The New York City’s Catskill/Delaware watershed is a prime example. Due to the protection of over a hundred thousand acres of wetlands and stream corridors north of the city, New York City has been issued a drinking water filtration waiver by the Environmental Protection Agency. New York City’s water supply is so pristine that there is no need to filter the water. Houston, on the other hand, currently has three surface water treatment plants that all run at capacity.
The streamside corridors and wetland habitats of the Lake Houston Watershed are facing many threats today, include deforestation, residential and commercial development, as well as sand and gravel mining. All of these practices destroy wildlife habitat and eliminate the water filtration and purification benefits of the undeveloped land. Through permanent protection from these practices and continued acquisition of lands along Spring Creek, Bayou Land Conservancy is working towards ensuring that this important ecosystem remains functional for future generations.
Bayou Land Conservancy Preserves
Bayou Land Conservancy maintains several public reserves along the Spring Creek Greenway. Here it is possible to experience nature in its purest form. Permitted low-impact activities include hiking, canoeing/kayaking, bird watching, horseback riding, nature observation, and photography.