Clearcutting all vegetation

“…Care Will Be Taken to Protect All Vegetation…”

This is a story about implying you will do one thing and then doing the opposite. Like saying you will “take care to protect all vegetation” when you really intend to remove it all.

From the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan for the Laurel Springs RV Resort approved by the City of Houston.
Laurel Springs RV Resort as of 12/5/2021

Weasel Words as Getaway Vehicles

To pull off this feat of verbal legerdemain, some developers and engineers use “weasel words,” which are their “getaway vehicles.”

“Weasel words” are qualifiers that help to create a legal defense.

The developers of the Laurel Springs RV Park promised Houston Public Works that they would take care to protect natural vegetation, but attached two dependent clauses:

  • “Where practical…”
  • “…that does not need to be removed for construction purposes.”

Then they removed every tree, shrub and blade of grass on the site.

A Deceitful Charade

Developers all over Houston use this deceitful charade. And it’s time it stopped. If a developer has no intention of preserving any natural vegetation, the focus of stormwater pollution prevention plans should shift to other measures.

These developers DID promise to use silt fencing. And they actually installed some, but only on one side of the site.

So what’s to stop sediment carried by overland sheet flow from washing downhill into the beautiful cypress ponds that represent the signature feature of Harris County Precinct 4’s new Edgewater Park?

Laurel Springs RV Resort. “Look out below.”

Becoming Rule Rather than Exception

Developments like this have turned into the rule rather than the exception.

“The Preserve at Woodridge” in the Ben’s Branch Watershed.
Woodridge Village sheet flow contributed to flooding Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest twice in 2019. In the Taylor Gully Watershed.

This is death by a thousand clearcuts.

Not one of these developments would be fatal by itself. But taken together, we’re sowing the seeds of the next big flood. Trees consume rainwater and also slow runoff, reducing flood risk.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/6/21

1560 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.