From our NOAA Crew

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The week of March 12-16 was a very eventful week for gulf corps of Houston we had two site visits by our CEO and partners that allowed the gulf corps program for all Gulf States to begin. Monday through Wednesday we worked at Artist Boat in Galveston continuing the removal of chinaberry tree through means of chainsaw work. Slight change of weather this week allowed for us to spray old stumps and new trees that have been felled to be sprayed with herbicide to prevent them from re sprouting. Wednesday the last day at Artist Boat for the week was our first site visit from some of the top names of the gulf corps partnership, CEO of American Youthworks, Parc Smith and Jeff DeQuattro from the Nature Conservancy, John Hosey with The Corps Network, Kelly Brooks with the General Land Office of Texas, and our project sponsor at Artist Boat Karla Klay. These individuals got to see us at our best felling trees in a safe and proper way and also got to know us on a personal basis through which we informed them of our background and future goals and gave us a bit of information of their past and how they got where they are. The most interesting background story for myself and I believe the whole crew is Karla Klay due to the simple fact that instead of having normal pets she had sharks in her backyard do to the fact that her father is responsible for the rehabilitation of many sharks that are living in captivity.

Thursday and Friday was spent at Armand Bayou Nature Center (ABNC) our second project site in which we remove Chinese tallow tree, an invasive species in Houston and planting of native grasses in order to restore the prairie. Some of these native grasses include switch grass, gamma grass, and other miscellaneous grasses which our grown from seed on the east bank of ABNC and moved and planted on the west bank. Thursday morning consisted of planting but after lunch we had a informative talk from Mark Kramer about the rookery over on the west bank that gulf corps helped build earlier this season. During this talk Parc Smith, John Hosey, and Jeff DeQuattro were present and we learned of a few species of birds that have already called the rookery their home. Four different species of birds were observed during the talk these birds included Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Anhinga, and Great Egret. An interesting fact of this rookery we helped build is that it is actually build on a tiny island, and beneath this island their lives a female and male alligator. Interestingly, enough the birds and alligators live in a sort of symbiosis, the alligator fend off any predators to the bird’s young’s or eggs and the alligators score an easy meal.

Friday included more grass planting followed by another talk by Mark Kramer involving the Bayou ecology of Armand Bayou. The talk involved background information of the borders that surround Armand Bayou and that it is one of the largest urban wildlife preserve. The Bayou has changed dramatically from its original status back in the 1960’s due to erosion and the construction of impermeable surfaces in its surroundings. The water that fills Armand Bayou, which is considered an estuary which is where fresh and salt water meet, is recycled water that comes from the Pasadena area and flows all the way down to Clear Lake and Galveston Bay. During the speech we learned that the drought of 2011 made the water in the bayou more saline than it normally is due to an overabundance of sea water which changed the composition of life in the bayou. During this time period grasses died due to its advantage in fresh water and even jelly fishes were found up the bayou. Both Thursday and Friday was rewarding because we removed lots of Chinese Tallow trees and planted native grasses, this was accomplished by the help of University of Texas students both from Dallas and Arlington which were part of an alternative spring break program.

Christian Mena – Coastal Crew Member (Aqua Crew)

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