UPPER BUFFALO BAYOU SITE
TERRY HERSHEY PARK
Trash Bash began as part of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Clean Rivers Program 18 years ago. It has since become a community wide event funded by the Texas Conservation Fund and generous local sponsors (such as HGAC, Republic Services, The Greensheet and Nestle Waters) and run by volunteer groups.
There are now seventeen sites across the Houston area including locations such as Armand Bayou, Brays Bayou, Galveston Bay, Lake Conroe, Lake Houston, White Oak Bayou and our own Buffalo Bayou.
The event always takes place, rain or shine, on the last Saturday of March, UNLESS EASTER lands on the weekend, as will be the case in 2013 (Trash Bash 2013 will be taking place one week earlier on March 23!!!!).
The primary goal of volunteers participating in the Trash Bash event is to collect as much trash and as many recyclables from our waterways as possible during the morning hours. Along the way, the event coordinators hope to accomplish the event’s mission of promoting “environmental stewardship of our watershed through public education by utilizing hands-on educational tools and by developing partnerships between environmental, governmental, and private organizations.”
The event’s seventeen sites are regionally coordinated by the Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC) and three key people including Kristi Corse (regional coordinator and HGAC public outreach and volunteer coordinator), Lori Traweek (president of the Texas Conservation Fund and manager of operations for the Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority) and a new Trash Bash Assistant Coordinator, Montryce King. These three leaders spend an enormous amount of time dealing with the financial end of the event and providing all of the logistical support for making sure each location has access to the vast majority of the services and materials needed such as transportation, hand washing stations, gloves, trash bags, food, water, tents, signs and a basic site budget of $350 (for items such as truck rentals).
Each site has its own history and local coordinators who also devote a significant amount of time to the event’s success.
Our site, "Buffalo Bayou Upper" (Terry Hershey Park) was established through the work of Bruce Heiberg, his daughter, and with the support of the Bayou Preservation Association five years ago. Bruce spent several years building support for the site, but wanted to help get a site established on Cypress Creek, near his own home. In 2010, Greg Daniell, the Briar Forest Super Neighborhood Council President, agreed to volunteer to learn the ropes from Bruce and take part in the transition to a new set of local coordinators with the BFSNC in the lead for the Terry Hershey Park location. By 2011, with the support of the Eldridge West Oaks and Memorial Super Neighborhood Councils, the event grew to 642 participants.
At least 30 volunteers from the Briar Forest, Eldridge West Oaks and Memorial super neighborhood councils work to staff the Terry Hershey Park site on the day of the event.
THE TARGET - COLLECTING AS MUCH TRASH AND RECYCLABLES AS POSSIBLE OVER A FIVE HOUR PERIOD OF TIME FROM APPROXIMATELY 12 MILES OF STREAM BANK IN TERRY HERSHEY PARK
Prior to the actual event day, nine Briar Forest volunteers logged over 170 hours of volunteer time for Trash Bash. These hours included the meetings with the regional coordinator, trips to places as far as the Washburn Tunnel to collect donated water, t-shirts and other materials, time spent on updating allocation lists, purchasing and transporting materials, sponsor outreach, site reconnaissance, collecting door prizes, and much more.
Susanna Leon-Daniell and her daughter Emma prepare and set up the Trash Bash sign at the Dairy Ashford location in Terry Hershey Park a week prior to the event. Earlier in the day, Michael Huffmaster, Greg Daniell and Bill Rustam (President of the Greater Houston Off Road Biking Association, or GHORBA) delivered a trailer load of materials to the park and the "Westerley Headquarters" for the Buffalo Bayou site.
The night before Trash Bash, the crew loads up the 26' U-Haul truck from one end to the other with most of the materials needed for the site, including the five canoes and kayaks provided by REI. Once the so-called "bandit" signs were placed on their stakes and prepared for being set out in the early morning hours, the crew was done at 1:15 am. Olivia, Emma and Maddie still managed a smile.
March 31, 2012 - 6:00 am start time for volunteers meeting at the Langham Creek location.
Our volunteer staff was able to get going earlier than regular park hours allow due to the assistance of Sgt. Mitch Hutter and the Precinct 5 Constable Phil Camus. Staff volunteers from Eldridge, Memorial and BFSN came out in force to unload the U-Haul and carry the materials to the set up location. All of the volunteers greatly appreciated site sponsor VF Waste Service's generous donation of breakfast and coffee. The breakfast provided some badly needed energy for many volunteers who had slept very little going into the day's event. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers like Gloria Hodges, Sally Bauer, Betsy Coker, Lauri Bauer, Allen Kelley, Michael and Robbie Huffmaster, David Hannah, Landrum Wise, Diane Landay, the Daniells, Virgie Manning, Gary Cohen, Charlie Hancock, Diane and Johnna Guillerman, Susan Steinbus, Jackie Halliburton, Ellen Tubman and Robert Mann, the tents and tables and all materials for registration and distribution and the cookout were in place by 7:30 am.
Registration officially began at 8:00 am on the day of the event with the volunteers in the tent below. Volunteers were also encouraged to fill out their registration forms in advance to help cut down on time waiting in lines. In order to increase efficiency and ease the burden on the volunteers working trash clean up in the park, we are looking at some new approaches to pre-registration for our site in particular. Much of what we want to do to improve the process is heavily dependent on when materials become available from the regional coordinator, but we hope to make some positive changes to improve the processes within our control.
8:00 am - The Volunteers Arrive
Volunteers of all ages showed up to help clean up the park they love and the the park that means so much to the community on Buffalo Bayou in west Houston.
The 2012 attendance total amounted to 607 volunteers. 257, or 42%, of the volunteers were under the age of 18 and 146 of those volunteers were Girl and Boy Scouts.
REI and Terry Hershey Park Trash Bash 2012
"We inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventures and stewardship"
Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) joined the Terry Hershey Park location this year as a site sponsor. REI Outreach Specialist Dina Attar and her husband Richard Lacap greeted Trash Bash volunteers and the Houston Galleria Store donated several door prizes including a Comfort LTG Armchair, Picnic Cooler, Flash 18 and 100 reusable water bottles.
REI helped significantly to spread the word about River, Lakes, Bays 'N Bayous Trash Bash to its 45,000 member strong GearMail network in the Houston area. Yet more information was made available to customers at its Galleria area store. Community members who hike and bike the Anthills also appreciate the investment REI has made by providing a 10,000 dollar grant to the Greater Houston Off Road Biking Association for improving the trails and building top quality bridges. REI has also made a 20,000 dollar grant to the Bayou Preservation Association to make major improvements to paddling trails on Buffalo Bayou and Cypress Creek. As seen further below, our volunteers made use of two launch points benefiting from the REI grant and they set out in kayaks donated for the event by the REI Houston Galleria area store.
Alief Independent School District Hastings High School students gather around the Save Our Forest (SOF) table before heading out to the trails to clean up trash. SOF provided volunteers to serve as transportation assistants on the three vans carrying volunteers to and from sites across Terry Hershey Park.
Volunteers gather to put on their green wrist bands signifying they have registered for Trash Bash and are prepared to head out into the field for clean up activities.
Eldridge West Oaks and Memorial volunteers handout Trash Bash t-shirts to all of the volunteers before they leave for one of the many sites in Terry Hershey Park for clean up activities. If you have special size requirements and plan to be out in the park as a Trash Bash volunteer in 2013, it is a good idea to send an email message to the coordinator by the first part of January so we can order sufficient quantities.
Both the Energy Corridor and Westchase District helped to get the message out about the Trash Bash volunteer opportunity to businesses within their general areas. Several corporate groups turned out to help support the surrounding community where they do business. Engineering firms, energy companies and food service companies came out with several large contingents, brandishing their corporate logo t-shirts with pride.
Many high school and middle school students from HISD, SBISD, AISD, FBISD, KISD and the AWTY International School were able to come out and help and earn as much as four community service hours for their hard work.
ExxonMobil provided at least 27 volunteers from its Community Partners program for work in trash clean up, recyclables collection and the invasive species removal effort described further below.
Below, Steve Hupp (Water Quality Director for the Bayou Preservation Association) shows the truck full of tools used by the forty volunteers who removed invasive plants, replanted riparian habitat and removed the results of illegal dumping from the Ashford Forest portion of the Briar Forest near Dairy Ashford in Terry Hershey Park as part of the 2012 Trash Bash.
The ExxonMobile volunteers and approximately 15 Scouts from Troop 1089 removed about 1 cubic yard of solid waste and 40 cubic yards of invasives along 120 yards of Buffalo Bayou's southern bank. Below, Eagle Scout Parker Smith can be seen hauling some of the invasives from the forest to the collection point. He and members of Troop 1089 have worked four such projects on Buffalo Bayou this year. He returned just a few weeks later for his own scout project and was again joined by members of his troop to work on a riparian restoration project on the north side of the bayou near Dairy Ashford.
The invasives removed and stacked by volunteers for later retrieval by the Precinct 3 Parks Department included ligustrum, privet, golden bamboo and Chinese tallow tree.
Under Steve's direction, the volunteers planted native trees, shrubs and vines belonging to the Buffalo Bayou riparian habitat and filling in voids created by the removal of invasive, exotic plants.
Troop 1089's Scoutmaster Bruce Handley (below) and fifteen scouts helped in the process and also, with the help of several assistant scoutmasters such as Brooks Davis, cooked and served the hot dogs for the Trash Bash volunteers.
Approximately 80 natives were planted including 50 bald cypress, 10 eastern redbud, 10 southern magnolia, 2 mexican plum, 1 salvia coccinia, 2 cana lily, 2 clematis vine and 2 indigo bush. Steve has flagged these natives and will remove the flags as he returns to assess their survival.
Steve points out that having a better (a more diverse plant community, rid of invasive, exotic plants) riparian habitat improves water quality as it allows the habitat to better "treat" the water flowing through the habitat. Also, a better riparian habitat is more able to hold soil on the banks and bed of the bayou.
Volunteers to Trash Bash 2012 were greeted with an unusual archway compliments of the American Liver Foundation. Due to a communication breakdown, two events were scheduled for the same time and place in Terry Hershey Park and both event organizers did their best to cope with the circumstances. Both events were a great success and at least 1,500 people squeezed into the Langham Creek location for several hours. Parking was at a premium and unfortunately a number of volunteers turned away out of frustration. Such a conflict will not be taking place again and volunteers should have an easier time of gaining entry to the registration location next year.
Staff volunteers discuss with the van drivers the locations for drop off and pick up for the event. A number of improvements are proposed for our site including asking for at least two to three additional vans to speed up the transportation process.
Lines for vans may be diminished next year by coordinating with larger groups in advance and designating sites along the bayou ahead of time so that volunteers can arrive in their own transportation at locations with parking.
The three vans were responsible for carrying nearly 600 participants to and from seven locations along the 12 miles of stream banks in Terry Hershey Park during a three to four hour time span.
Once in the field, volunteers set out to fill their trash and recycling bags and the VF Waste Service recycling bins with as much as they could collect from the banks of the bayou.
Regardless of their size, volunteers did what they could to pull the trash and tires from the area around the waterway. One of the new approaches we are looking into for next year is placing tents and volunteers in several locations at mid-way points between the drop off and pick up spots for volunteers. For instance, a tent would be located on the southern banks between Eldridge and S. Dairy Ashford. The locations would be manned and provide additional water, trash and recycling bags and communication with the main headquarters for volunteers. These spots could also be drop off locations for bags of trash becoming too heavy for volunteers to carry. To get this done, we will need additional volunteers to man the new tents and permission from Precinct 3 for the use of a motorized vehicle behind the park gates (as well as support from the regional coordinator for an ATV and trailer). If you are interested in volunteering for one of these tents next year, please contact the site coordinator Greg Daniell at email@example.com.
Westside High School Kayaks the Bayou for Trash Bash 2012
Westside High School students Samantha Miller, Maddie Daniell, Rylie Daniell, Hannah Clark and Zoe Sheshtawy sit in the shade waiting for their chance to collect trash from the hard to reach locations along Buffalo Bayou.
Parent Sponsors Jane Miller and Giok Boothe help the students set up the kayaks provided by REI for collecting trash from the bayou. While the students paddled, the parent sponsors were prepared to provide assistance and followed the the kayaks by walking the banks from Highway 6 all the way to S. Dairy Ashford.
Buffalo Bayou is one of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Paddling Trails, but the section between State Highway 6 drop and the Dairy Ashford take out spots has been greatly impacted by decades of human manipulation.
Further downstream, the students encountered a substantial amount of heavy trash such as the doors and construction debris seen in the picture below. Such illegal dumping is far too common on our waterways. If you see someone you suspect in the act of illegal dumping, please do not hesitate to call 911 or Constable Dispatch at 281-463-6666. In the future, we are considering the addition of a "Heavy Trash Bash" event to try and get at these types of articles. If you or your group is interested in taking part in a Heavy Trash Removal event, please contact the site coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
The students witnessed first hand the impact channelization has on a waterway and the effects of stream bank erosion, including fallen trees, caused by tremendous fluctuations in flow rates and extended high releases through the flood gates at Barker and Addicks Dams. The students were forced to deal with steep stream banks as they had to pull their kayaks from the water to get around fallen trees in their path. These students learned about how the flow rates and channelization have changed how sediments are deposited and the resulting impact on water quality. In addition, they passed the entry point to the Bayou from the city of Houston Turkey Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant and were able to share their experiences with two large fish kills that took place last year as a result of upsets at the plant.
The students reach the end of their journey and Zoe and Maddie pull their kayak from the water and up to the retrieval point along S. Dairy Ashford. These Westside students proved the toughness and tenaciousness of the Lady Wolves.
Below, Westside High School Ecology Club Senior Rylie Daniell begins to relax and waits for a tall glass of clean water. Next year she will be giving up her duties as a co-site coordinator for the Terry Hershey Park Trash Bash location to head off to the University of Texas at Austin. She can be heard discussing Trash Bash and other environmental topics with fellow student Will Stevens and Westside High School AP Environmental Science teacher Lawrence Spence on the radio program Eco-Ology
With the event drawing to a conclusion, staff volunteers begin to wind down and catch their breath. For most of the volunteer staff, the day started at 5:00 am and by 12:00 pm they were ready to take a break before beginning the process of packing everything up for the trip back to storage. Flexibility and quick adaptation are crucial to a large event's successful operation and these volunteers graciously met the demands. From accepting a last minute plea for help with ice (thank you Diane Guillerman) to leaving a great parking space to get pans for the hot dogs and hand sanitizer (thank you Virgie Manning) or posting signs across west Houston (thank you Ellen Tubman), such volunteerism is what makes living in our community worthwhile.
Smiles of relief after all the volunteers have been registered and then returned to collect their scout patches, certificates of community service and REI reusable water bottles (given to the high school students). Transportation coordinators Allen Kelley and Robbie Huffmaster share a brief light moment before responding to the next request for volunteer retrieval. The transportation issue will be one of our top priorities this year as we make plans for improving Trash Bash in 2013.
Below, volunteers line up to get their hot dogs, cookies and soft drinks or water. Boy Scout Troop 1089 turned out in force to devote their energies to both the volunteer meal preparation and for the riparian restoration project. Next year, along with the traditional "1089 hot dogs" (and possibly the addition of chili cheese dogs!) we are looking into the addition of a trailer grill, some vegetarian offerings for our volunteers and site sponsor VF Waste Services is considering adding grilled chicken to the menu and helping with the cooking. We will also be making sure that food is available until the very end of the event for those volunteers straggling in from the field.
After volunteering to clean up the bayou, many of the almost 600 participants who went into the field were able to come back and relax for a few minutes under shade trees along Langham Creek. For part of the morning, volunteers were able to enjoy music offered by the American Liver Foundation for its event and now Trash Bash organizers are considering the addition of a sound system for next year's event. However, we will be looking for a different music selection in comparison to the disco and aerobics style music blared from the pavilion this year.
Without a doubt, the volunteers seen in these images resting in the park after working on the bayou are the reason why Trash Bash in Terry Hershey Park is so successful. Trash Bash takes place ONLY because of these committed and caring community members and will increase its effectiveness as more volunteers come out and surpass the site goal of 700 participants.
One more key to the success of Trash Bash in Terry Hershey Park is the support of Precinct 3. The crew seen below was at the end of their shift and had spent the day going from one trash drop to another collecting bags and tires and hauling them away. While all of the volunteers are providing a service to their community and making a dramatic positive impact on the park they love, Trash Bash still views the opportunity to coordinate the effort as a privilege and greatly appreciates the cooperation and assistance provided by Precinct 3's Steve Dorman and the outstanding employees who work to keep the park in excellent condition on a daily basis.
Below are images of some of the piles of trash and recyclables left at some of the drop locations by volunteers.
Once all the volunteers came in from the field and the Trash Bash "headquarters" was packed up, Allen Kelley and Greg Daniell traveled the length of the Terry Hershey Park clean up site to collect the bandit signs and move the remaining piles of trash to spots easily observable by the Precinct 3 crew returning the following day. By 6:30 pm, the day's event activities drew to a conclusion.
In 2011, Briar Forest SNC volunteers recycled everything possible from the food and registration area and carried the recyclables to Brittmore in their own cars, but no provisions had been made for the litter being collected along the bayou. In prior years, no recycling of any kind took place. Recycling took a dramatic leap forward this year as a result of the efforts of our new 2012 site sponsor VF Waste Services, Inc.
The VF Waste Services crew and Robert Mann delivered recycling bins to all of the trash drop locations in Terry Hershey Park for volunteers to deposit their collected recyclables and then followed up during and after the event to retrieve the bins and the new clear recycling bags. VF made a superior effort and we look forward to their help next year with continuing the recycling initiative at the Terry Hershey Park location. Robert (second from right below) arrived early with breakfast for the whole volunteer staff and helped close down the headquarters before driving out with the crew to all of the pick up locations. He and VF want to play an even larger role next year by helping to grill food for hungry volunteers.
THE EVENT WAS OVER, BUT THE WORK CONTINUED...
Precinct 3 continued to pitch in to make a huge contribution to Trash Bash 2012. Below are photographs of the Precinct 3 crew collecting all of the invasive plants removed during the riparian restoration project.
Once all of the REI kayaks and canoes were cleaned in the front yard of the Westerley Trash Bash headquarters, they were loaded up and returned. Below, the REA Galleria Area Store manager Mike McCoy (back) and Chris Shaffer unload the gear. We look forward to seeing REI out at Trash Bash in Terry Hershey Park again next year and greatly appreciate all they have been doing for our community.
The finish line is in sight. Back at Bullseye, Michael Huffmaster and Greg Daniell wait for their turn to unload Trash Bash supplies for storage. Michael's generous donation of time and the use of his trailer made a huge difference in the event's success. Other volunteers who carried materials and drove to far flung locations such as the Washburn Tunnel included Lauri Bauer, David Hanah, Landrum Wise, Allen Kelley, Bill Rustam and the Susanna Leon-Daniell.
Being the last in line meant there was less space to store tents and other items, but Michael used his engineering skills to maximize every inch (while Greg took photographs and stayed out of the way).
Having survived her first Trash Bash, Montryce King, the brand new assistant coordinator overseeing the regional effort looks on with relief as the next to last tent rolls into storage.
5,570 POUNDS OF TRASH COLLECTED
2,785 POUNDS OF RECYCLABLES COLLECTED
3,490 VOLUNTEER HOURS
455 VOLUNTEER STAFF HOURS
The On-going Mission
WE NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP ROLLING. Please take a look at the sponsor page for River, Lakes, Bays 'N Bayous - Trash Bash and see if your employer is listed (click here). If not, please help by encouraging your employer to take part in sponsoring the 2013 Trash Bash and contact the site coordinator Greg Daniell at email@example.com. The Terry Hershey Park location will retain in its site budget a portion of any sponsor contribution to Trash Bash. If we can grow our site budget, we will be able to offer our volunteers more in the way of food, entertainment and possibly transportation. We need your help in recruiting sponsors!!!!!
We're also always on the lookout for door prizes! Your business could be listed on the local banner thanking site sponsors if you take the step of providing door prizes (contact Greg).
If you would like to be one of the badly needed volunteers for the staff, please contact Greg.
During the year, please continue to help by picking up litter before it makes it to a storm drain and encourage others to do the same.
COME BACK AND VOLUNTEER NEXT YEAR! YOU MAKE THE DIFFERENCE.
For permission to use any of the photographs on this page, or to obtain higher resolutions copies, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org