A bright spot in our fight against climate change

05 Jan, 24

Dear Friends,

This time last year, Commissioners Court took a critical step to address the climate crisis. We approved a Climate Action Plan focused on reducing carbon emissions from county operations by 40 percent by 2030. We knew the stakes were high. Our region is one of the biggest producers of carbon pollution in the country, and we know reducing carbon emissions is essential to combatting climate change. And we know that more needs to be done, which is why the county is working with communities to develop a Climate Justice Plan that equitably engages and empowers vulnerable communities to be prepared for and protected from the harms of climate change.

But we didn’t know about a surprise benefit of addressing this crisis: the resurgence of a Gulf Coast native prairie. The Texas Gulf Coast was once covered in 6.5 million acres of native prairie, but now less than 1 percent remains.

Inspired by Harris County’s Climate Action Plan, our Precinct One team decided to scale back mowing a nondescript swath of land rarely seen by the public that is attached to parkland off Almeda School Road. Starting in March 2023, we turned off the gas-guzzling mowers to reduce emissions. And what happened next is nothing short of remarkable.

First, rare plant species emerged from the soil, indicating the presence of a native prairie: Texas Coneflower, Missouri Ironweed, Little Bluestem, and multiple species of Liatris. Birds, butterflies, and numerous insect species flourished. The newly discovered prairie attracted human visitors, too – including a reporter from the Houston Chronicle, coastal prairie experts, and the Nature Conservancy.

Conservationists celebrated the 45-acre finding.

“Every time we go, we find more species,” says Precinct One Environmental Field Operations Coordinator Royce Daniels, who continues to share the prairie’s discovery with others to encourage restorative practices. We’ve toured the prairie a few times now, and I look forward to seeing fields of yellow, pink, and purple as we get into the spring months.

Simple changes can help Harris County combat climate change while bringing us closer to nature. You never know until you let it grow.

You just might find a prairie.


Rodney Ellis