On Friday, 10/13/2023, Bayou Land Conservancy (BLC) staff and board members met with supporters and legislators for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at BLC’s new Arrowwood Preserve on Spring Creek in Tomball west of 249.
Land Donated by Two Sand Miners in 2020
The occasion: dedication of a new outdoor classroom for environmental education. Years of work that began with the donation of 117 acres to the Bayou Land Conservancy in 2020 culminated yesterday. Two sand miners, Don Poarch and Joe Swinbank, owners of Sprint Sand & Clay, donated the ecologically diverse land across Spring Creek from Lone Star College-Tomball.
The preserve takes its name, Arrowwood, from a 6-8 foot shrub that’s a member of the Honeysuckle family. The preserve marks the western extent of the plant’s natural range.
Since acquisition of the land, BLC staff, volunteers and supporters have developed a management plan, blazed trails, erected boardwalks, and built the new outdoor classroom.
BLC developed the open-air classroom in partnership with William & Madeleine Welder Smith Foundation; The Ralph H. and Ruth J. McCullough Foundation; and Plains All-American Pipeline Company.
An Ecological Gem Now an Outdoor College
The photos below show some of the quiet, natural beauty of the Arrowwood Preserve.
Arrowwood is 117 acres of wetlands also populated by hardwoods and some pines.
The land will connect to the Spring Creek Greenway which extends all the way southeast to US59.
Value of Nature in Flood Mitigation
It’s hard to put an exact dollar figure on the value of such a preserve. Traditional benefit/cost ratios used in flood-mitigation projects quantify the benefits of massive engineering/construction projects against the cost of avoided damages.
But this land is still natural. So damage to structures is not a consideration. The value of damages avoided would depend on how many people with bad judgement might choose to build on land that goes deep under water during frequent floods. At 249, Spring Creek floodwaters rose 11.4 feet above flood stage during Harvey. That equals 27.5 feet above the normal elevation!
Need for New Formula to Weigh Prevention Against Correction
But there’s another way to look at this: the value of prevention compared to the cost of correction. Our parents all taught us that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The current mapped floodplains around and in Arrowwood look like this.
Keep in mind that the map above was drawn in 2014 – before Harvey. FEMA has not yet released new post-Harvey flood maps. The floodplains will reportedly expand by 50% to 100%.
So, protecting this land from development will save money several ways. It will eliminate or reduce the:
- Injuries and lives lost.
- Cost of flood repairs.
- Disruption to people’s lives after a flood.
- Wasted construction dollars in unsafe areas that could have built safe homes on higher ground.
- Buyouts after repetitive flooding.
- Loss of home values.
- Urban decay.
- Taxpayer subsidies for the National Flood Insurance Program.
- Cost of engineering and environmental studies designed to determine how to fix the problems.
- Construction costs to build flood-mitigation measures, such as stormwater detention basins and channel widening
- The need for expensive bulkheads and dikes to control river migration.
- Higher tax rates to pay for many of the costs above.
Then, balance all those uncertainties and negatives against the positives of preservation.
- Higher home values.
- More resilient communities.
- People living in harmony with nature rather than fearing it.
- Health benefits of living closer to nature, including lower mortality rates.
- Unspoiled wetlands and green spaces that act as sponges during floods.
- Recreational value.
- Preservation of wildlife habitat.
Forests also slow down floodwaters by creating friction. This reduces severity of damage and gives people downstream more time to evacuate if necessary.
Perhaps the next generation of future homeowners and leaders from Lone Star College will learn such things at BLC’s new outdoor classroom on Spring Creek and change the world for the better. I hope so.
Support Bayou Land Conservancy
This is an area that should stay natural forever. And with the help of the Bayou Land Conservancy, it will. BLC is an organization making a huge difference in a quiet way. It deserves the support of each and every one of us.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/14/23
2237 Days since Hurricane Harvey