The Cypress Creek Flood Control Coalition
Frequently Asked Questions (Preservation):
What is the purpose of CCFCC’s Preservation Objective?
To advocate for preservation of the existing riparian corridors along the main channel and the primary tributary channels of the Cypress Creek Watershed for purposes of (1) floodwater conveyance, (2) keeping the forests intact, (3) preserving the existing wildlife habitat, (4) capturing surface pollutants before they enter the main channels, (5) preservation of highly valued wetlands, and (6) developing trails, parks, and other recreational amenities.
What role does the Cypress Creek Greenway Project (CCGP) play in the Preservation Objective?
CCGP’s role is to help achieve CCFCC’s Preservation Objective with the express purpose of preserving natural areas and providing recreational opportunities within the watershed. It is a primary advocate for the development of the Cypress Creek Greenway (a series of anchor parks with connecting hike-and-bike trails stretching from west of U.S. Highway 290 to the creek’s confluence with Spring Creek). CCPG actively encourages a collaborative effort among the watershed’s various constituents…MUDs, HOAs, individuals, etc…to promote the multi-use (see below) of Cypress Creek floodplains.
What are the Environmental and Quality-of-life issues to which CCFCC devotes time and resources?
- Wetlands protection.
- Nonsource pollution of Cypress Creek.
- Support for the Katy Prairie Conservancy in the Upper Watershed.
- The Cypress Creek Greenway project.
- Land developer participation in floodplain preservation.
CCFCC has two key committees which carry out these challenging goals. They are:
- The Cypress Creek Greenway Project Committee – Jim Robertson, Chair.
- The Environmental Affairs Committee – Lee Forbes, Chair.
What does the term multi-use imply?
In the context of floodplains, multi-use implies that natural drainage can also be used for hike-and-bike trails, sports fields, general recreation, wildlife habitats, etc. The focus of the HCFCD is first on flood-damage reduction, and secondarily, preservation. It acquires land throughout the county for regional stormwater detention basins, channel enlargements, buy out properties, and floodplain acquisition/preservation. HCFCD actively seeks partnerships to develop the multi-use of facilities to complement its flood damage reduction and conservation purposes. Partnership multi-use opportunities allow individual cities and the community at large to capitalize on HCFCD property for joint-use recreation since the land is only needed for flood control purposes during flooding events. Such partnerships benefit the community by meeting the growing demand for publicly owned green space in our rapidly growing area (for more information, go to http://www.eng.hctx.net/pdf/park_plan_2.pdf).
Who can build hike-and-bike trails and other recreational amenities along Cypress Creek and its tributaries or around detention basins?
HCFCD does not build or fund recreational amenities or trails. But, as explained under “multi-use,” their fee acreage and easements are available for recreational use (greenway corridors, hike-and-bike trails, and other park amenities) through inter-local agreements with those entities willing to fund such amenities (the Harris County Park Master Plan, Part 2, pgs 58-62, contains a section relative to understanding HCFCD’s mission and how it relates to multi-use of their property). Three potential funding/building entities in Harris County are the county itself, individual MUDs, and developers that build neighborhoods and other projects along Cypress Creek. For example:
- Harris County could fund trails and amenities on county-owned land (not HCFCD acreage), on selected sections of HCFCD right-of-way, and on easements or acreage obtained from individual property owners.
- MUDs could use land which they control outright or which they can obtain access to through inter-local agreements with HCFCD for use of its right-of-way. They could also deal directly with or obtain access from individual property owners. Some MUDs have already built or have funds set aside to build recreational amenities. MUDs can also issue bonds for building such amenities (for more information, visit: LegalTips.ORG – Texas WATER CODE – CHAPTER 54).
- Developers could be willing to donate land or fund amenities outright on acreage which they own (or work with MUDs that they create to fund such amenities).
- Further, any of these groups might partner with each other, seek outside funding through grants, or work with non-profits for funding. Harris County (at least, Precinct 4) has indicated that it plans to limit its activity to the main Cypress Creek corridor (rather than on the tributaries of Cypress Creek).
How do greenways, hike-and-bike trails, and other recreational amenities on county rights-of-way benefit the community?
They help meet the growing demand for parks, recreational facilities, and publicly owned green space in our rapidly developing region (visit The Harris County Park Master Plan, Part 1: www.eng.hctx.net/parkplan.htm). Hike-and-bike trails along Cypress Creek and its major tributaries create connectivity between existing anchor parks, schools, lateral trail systems and even work places. Greenways also preserve wildlife habitat and keep floodplains and the floodway free of man-made obstructions. Detailed information on how recreational amenities benefit the community can be found in The Perryman Group report, Sunshine, Soccer, and Success: An Assessment of the Impact of Municipal Parks and Recreation Facilities and Programs on Business Activity in Texas (http://www.tprfoundation.org/files/TexasParksAndRecreation_1-19-07_with_Summary.pdf).
After a home buy out (and once the land is restored to its natural state), can the resultant open space become part of the Greenway?
Yes, the Harris County Flood Control District works with many entities (homeowners’ associations, civic groups, neighborhoods, and individual neighboring property owners) to determine ideal community uses for “buy out” open space after structures have been purchased and removed. Desired results include community gardens, anchor parks, hike-and-bike trails, or even a reversion to natural habitats.
Who should homeowners’ associations or other interested parties contact for information about constructing a hike-and-bike trail on Cypress Creek?
It would be prudent to first contact the appropriate Harris County Precinct 3 or Precinct 4 Parks Department and the Cypress Creek Greenway Project Committee Chair to make them aware of your interest; then, to initiate the process, assemble a packet which includes contact information, maps, location, sponsor name, and other pertinent information. Send this packet to: Property Management Department, Harris County Flood Control District, 9900 Northwest Freeway, Houston, TX 77092, with a letter requesting assistance.
What is a conservation easement?
A conservation easement is a restriction landowners voluntarily place on specified uses of their property to protect natural, productive or cultural features (for more information, go to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_bk_w7000_0022.pdf
What is a land trust?
A land trust is a nonprofit organization that protects land for its natural, recreational, scenic, historic or productive value. Land trusts work with landowners to tailor the terms of a conservation easement to protect the land’s conservation value and to meet the landowner’s personal and financial goals.
What is the HP Park Alliance?
An alliance of community organizations that joined forces to collaborate with a Kickerillo and Mischer land development partnership (V&W Partners, Ltd.) in a floodplain preservation initiative, which resulted in a donation of 100+ acres of heavily forested Cypress Creek floodplain property for public recreational use and wildlife habitat preservation.
If I decide to donate land to CCFCC’s Greenway Project, who should I first contact?
Donated land will ultimately be deeded to the county for common use, but to start the process, contact: Jim Robertson, Chairman, Cypress Creek Greenway Project, CCFCC, [email protected]; 281-370-8243.