SSCI Environmental

Founded in 1986, SSCI specializes in enhancing the environment through its sound solutions approach. “Getting the job done is priority number one, not prolonging our participation,” says Helen I. Hodges, President and CEO.

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SSCI News

Global Recycling Day

March 18, 2019 is Global Recycling Day!

SSCI will be doing its share of recycling and waste reduction in the office environment. SSCI reuses copy paper as much as possible for internal use, and we have a designated recycling bin for paper and plastics. Plastic or Styrofoam coffee cups have been replaced by ceramic mugs in the common area to reduce waste all year round. Other ways to make the office environment greener include bringing your own lunch to work in a reusable container to reduce waste and utilizing paper clips in lieu of staples. These seemingly small actions really add up over the course of a year.

Recycling at home does not require much effort, and separating recyclables is easy. Many refuse providers offer recycling pick up with garbage collection. Otherwise, dropping off recyclables at the nearest center can be a wonderful teaching moment for the next generation. Reusable shopping bags are one of the best ways to reduce plastic waste, and some stores, like Target, offer the incentive of a small discount for using them. Even if one uses plastic grocery bags, they can be brought back to large chain stores, like Walmart or HEB, where bins are provided to accept clean plastic bags to be recycled. One globally recognized day of conservation can be the start of educating the masses on the importance of recycling everyday thereafter. Click here to find a recycling center near you.

Texas Coasts – Abandoned Crab Trap Removal

 

“‘Ghost Fishing’ is what fishing gear does when it has been lost, dumped or abandoned. Imagine a fishing net that gets snagged on a reef or a wreck and gets detached from the fishing vessel. Nets, long lines, fish traps or any man made contraptions designed to catch fish or marine organisms are considered capable of ghost fishing when unattended, and without anyone profiting from the catches, they are affecting already depleted commercial fish stocks. Caught fish die and in turn attract scavengers which will get caught in that same net, thus creating a vicious circle.” – ghostfishing.org

In order to combat the effects of ghost fishing, from February 15th to February 24th, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will be working with volunteers to remove abandoned or lost crab traps from the coastal waters of Texas.  During this period, use of wire mesh crab traps in Texas Coastal water will be restricted, resuming on February 25th. Volunteers are needed to assist in the cleanup efforts.

For information on volunteering, contact TPWD coordinator Glen Sutton at (281) 534-0100.

Drop off sites around Galveston include:

Jones Lake State Ramp
Seabrook SH 146 Bridge Public Boat Ramp
Chocolate Bayou State Boat Ramp FM 2004
TPWD Dickinson Marine Lab in Dickinson
VoStingaree Restaurant and Marina in Crystal Beach

 

ABNC Party for the Planet, 2019

Save the Date!  Please join the Armand Bayou Nature Center’s Board of Trustees and sponsor San Jacinto College at PARTY FOR THE PLANET on Saturday evening, May 4th, 2019.  You are invited to enjoy a catered dinner, live music by Andy and the Dreamsicles, dancing, charitable auctions and games.

Armand Bayou Nature Center was founded in 1974 as a result of efforts begun by an environmental visionary, Armand Yramategui. Armand foresaw the urban growth around Armand Bayou and strove to have this land remain a wilderness. Armand’s tragic death in 1970 inspired a local, regional and national coalition of people and organizations to acquire the 2500 acres of land now preserved as ABNC.  ABNC is a non-profit organization that was established with the mission preservation and environmental education.  The Party for the Planet is ABNC’s annual fundraiser to support the mission and activities at the nature preserve.

SSCI has provided support to ABNC for many years and we encourage you to consider begin part of the fundraising dinner and auction celebration.  More information can be found about supporting the event at Auction Perfect.

 

ABNC and Houston Audubon Christmas Bird Count

Christmas Bird Count
December 15, 2018 through January 5, 2019

Please don’t forget to sign up for Christmas Bird Count at armandbayoucbc@gmail.com. This is not an Armand Bayou Nature Center event, but is done in partnership with Houston Audubon Society. The Audubon Society invites birders of all ages and skill levels to participate in this international event. Birders will rise with the sun and spend one day counting every bird they see. This is the largest avian census and not possible without volunteers just like you!

They also need lots of feeder watchers within the circle so if you can’t make all day and would still like to participate, please sign up to be a backyard feeder watcher/counter, at the same email address.

Additional information about the Texas Christmas Bird Counts is available at Houston Audubon.

SSCI Participates in Career Fair

SSCI participated in the Second Annual Career Night at Pearland Junior High East (PJHE) on August 4, 2018.  The PJHE Roughnecks invited presenters from a variety of backgrounds to discuss careers and educational paths with the 7th and 8th grade students.  The students experienced exciting, hands-on learning while gaining an understanding of the educational steps needed to achieve their goals.


 

 

SSCI presented a booth displaying sampling equipment, protective gear, and education materials.  Students were able to ask questions from the SSCI staff such as, “Where can I study environmental science?” or “What kind of services do you provide?”.  Demonstrations of how to use hearing protection were a big hit!

 

 

Also in attendance was SSCI’s very good friend, Tim Pylate, Executive Director of Armand Bayou Nature Center (ABNC).  ABNC brought wildlife to show students the importance of these species and discuss careers in natural resources.  ABNC located on Bay Area Boulevard is the largest urban wilderness preserve in the United States.  Read more about ABNC at www.abnc.org.

SSCI also participated in the PJHE career night in 2017.  We are pleased to be able to support the local community in providing educational information and career guidance.

SSCI and Interfaith Caring Ministries, a Winning Team

SSCI participated in the 25th Annual Festival of Trees Gala at the Lakewood Yacht Club on December 6, 2018. Interfaith Caring Ministries (ICM) hosts the annual fundraiser to provide the necessary funds to support the outreach program for the Clear Lake community.  The Gala included fundraising activities, a special invocation by Taylor Lake Christian Church, and a performance by Clear Lake High School’s ensemble choir, Soundwaves.

 

SSCI’s team enjoyed the festivities and supported the charity with Helen Hodges, P.E., President, Jo Drake Keim, Vice President, Caitlin Tovar, Chemical Engineer, and Stacy Emerick, Administrative Manager in attendance.

Wooping Cranes make their way to Texas Coast – October 29, 2018

Iconic Whooping Cranes Making Way to Texas Coast

First Sightings Reported Near Rockport

With the first sightings last week of iconic, endangered whooping cranes along the Texas coast, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is reminding Texans to be on the lookout for these impressive birds as they move through the state.

Whooping cranes face a harrowing, 2,500 mile journey from the breeding grounds in the marshy taiga of northern Alberta’s Wood Buffalo National Park to the coastal marshes of Texas each year. The migration south to Texas can take up to 50 days with the population typically traveling in small groups. Man made structures like power lines, communication towers, and wind turbines pose significant threats, as do more natural perils like predators and harsh weather.

Along the way, whooping cranes seek out wetlands and agricultural fields to roost and feed in, and they often pass large urban centers like Dallas/Fort Worth, Waco, and Austin. Though they rarely stay in one place for more than a day during migration, it is important that they not be disturbed or harassed at these stopovers; in fact, as a federally protected species, it is illegal to do so.

The first whooper pair of the season was just spotted at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on October 22. Recent heavy rains brought much needed freshwater to the area and should result in improved numbers of blue crabs and Carolina wolfberries, preferred whooper foods in coastal marshes.

The tallest bird in North America, the whooping crane, is also one of the rarest. With a current population of around 505 individuals, whooping cranes are slowly returning from the brink of extinction thanks to coordinated conservation efforts. Out of 87 nests this summer only about 24 chicks fledged, a low number compared to recent years, likely due to the unseasonably cold, wet weather.

The Aransas-Wood Buffalo population, the only “natural” flock of whooping cranes in the world, spends each winter in and around the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge near Rockport. However, with population expansion in recent years they have begun spending time in more nontraditional areas, venturing some distance from the refuge to find food and other resources.

“These iconic, endangered species deserve our respect as they migrate through the central flyway, and we ask the public to avoid disturbing them if spotted,” states Wade Harrell, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Whooping Crane Recovery Coordinator. “Along with whooping cranes migrating from Canada, Texas has had a few visiting whooping cranes from a reintroduced population in southwest Louisiana. These cranes are all marked with leg bands and have been most commonly spotted in southeastern Texas, near Beaumont.”

With sandhill crane and waterfowl hunting seasons opening and whooper migration in full swing, TPWD urges hunters to be extra vigilant. Whooping cranes are sometimes found in mixed flocks with sandhill cranes, which are gray and slightly smaller. With their all-white body plumage and black wingtips, whooping cranes may also resemble snow geese, which are much smaller and have faster wing beats. Here’s a video detailing the differences between snow geese and whooping cranes.

There are several other non-game species that are similar in appearance such as wood storks, American white pelicans, great egrets and others, but a close look will reveal fairly obvious differences. More information on look-alike species is available online.

The public can help track whooping cranes by reporting sightings to TPWD’s Whooper Watch, a citizen-science based reporting system to track whooping crane migration and wintering locations throughout Texas.  More information about Whooper Watch, including instructions for reporting sightings, can be found online and by downloading the iNaturalist mobile app. These observations help biologists identify new migration and wintering locations and their associated habitats.

Creepy Crawlers – Armand Bayou Nature Center – Halloween 2018

Creepy Crawlers

Saturday October 27, 2018 at 6:30

 

Join Armand Bayou Nature Center this Saturday October 27, 2018 for a fun night of Halloween-themed games and activities for the entire family! Activities include a night hike in the woods, games, face painting, a barn show, a hay stack dive, and live animals to experience.

Reservations are required and will be available on September 4th. The reservation is $10 per person, kids 3 and under are free. Please bring a flashlight- it gets dark out here!

Book your reservations now!

Texas Association of Environmental Professionals – Aerial Services

On August 23, 2018, SSCI attended the Texas Association of Environmental Professionals (TAEP) Luncheon entitled “Drones – A New Tool for the Environmental Professional”. Mr. Mike Allison, president of Raptor Aerial Services, showed off his assortment of drones and explained their applications in the environmental field. Of particular interest to SSCI is the use of drones for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs). Drones can be a useful tool for identifying site conditions such as buildings, aboveground storage tanks, water bodies, and other features. Drones can also be used to analyze overland flow, an important part of any Phase I! The TAEP hosts monthly luncheons where presenters come to discuss important environmental issues and the ways they can be solved.

SSCI has performed thousands of Phase I ESAs and would be glad to help you with your next environmental project!

More info about Raptor Aerial Services and the TAEP can be found at www.raptoraerialservices.com and https://www.taep.org/