News / USA

    Houston Sprawl Leaves Wildlife Stranded

    Houston Sprawl Leaves Wildlife Stranded i
    X
    August 16, 2013 5:45 PM
    Houston, Texas, and its surrounding suburbs are growing fast and sprawling out into natural forest areas that are the habitat for many species of indigenous wildlife. Local leaders as well as environmentalists are seeking some sort of balance between growth and preservation of nature. But, as VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, time is running out.
    Houston, Texas, and its surrounding suburbs are growing fast and sprawling out into natural forest areas that are the habitat for many species of indigenous wildlife. Local leaders as well as environmentalists are seeking some sort of balance between growth and preservation of nature.  But time is running out.

    On a ranch in the woods northwest of Houston, several young deer who were left orphaned when their mother was killed, are growing to maturity within a safe, fenced-off area.

    Nearby,  at the Friends of Texas Wildlife Center northwest of Houston, volunteers help care for a variety of injured animals. There, a red-tailed hawk is recovering from what may have been a collision with a glass window.

    Center Director Lisa Wolling is helping him exercise his wings so he can be returned to his natural world.

    "He needs to be in this flight area to be able to [be in] flight condition and get his endurance back up," she said.

    Animals throughout this area are facing a crisis as developers build more homes and more roads to link them to Houston.

    Friends of Texas Wildlife President Janette Winkelmann says her privately-funded organization can only help a small percentage of the displaced animals.

    "They have nowhere to go. They end up on the street, they end up running around in people's yards," she said.

    Because land is relatively cheap and abundant around Houston, the metropolitan area sprawls out in every direction.

    "You can actually fit the cities of New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis and Miami inside Houston," explains Ann Taylor, executive director at the Houston office of the Urban Land Institute, a non-profit group devoted to urban planning and development.

    The answer, she says, is to promote more density.

    "That is one of the keys: to put more people on less space so that you can preserve more of the natural environment," she said.

    The city has made efforts to create more parks and nature areas, as have some of the suburbs like The Woodlands, where the master plan included preservation of trees.

    But Houston's economic success creates a big challenge, says Taylor.

    "We know that in the next 15 or so years we are going to add another two and a half million people to our population, and they have got to go somewhere," she said.

    The good news is that many young professionals and entrepreneurs prefer living in areas near downtown, where they can walk to many attractions.

    Developing more city dwellings and less outward sprawl could be the key to giving the area's wildlife more room to survive.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Tony from: Oregon USA
    August 21, 2013 1:07 AM
    Houston has no topographic barriers such as rivers or mountains to hinder development. This naturally leads to low land prices which draw developers to build wherever they choose. Couple the cheap land with little past political willpower to enact land use laws and the result is endless sprawl. The metro area needs stronger leadership to resist the political environment that continues to encourage building further & further out. Houston prides itself on its economic prowess, but unless there's a collective effort to increase urban density and implement smart land usage, choking traffic and vast distances between affordable housing and employment/entertainment centers may very well be what kills the growth.

    by: Paul from: Houston
    August 19, 2013 11:40 PM
    Overpopulation is never even brought up in our local, regional or national political agenda. I'm sure the rest of the world "can't wait." It's as if our "freedom" to own as big of a house, or automobile, or just about anything "outweighs" wildlife and nature itself.

    by: miss_msry from: USA
    August 19, 2013 4:48 PM
    "You can actually fit the cities of New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis and Miami inside Houston," explains Ann Taylor...

    And yet, Houston has no true mass transit system.

    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    August 19, 2013 3:21 AM
    Huston is a bit larger than Sapporo both in space and population. It is the same there remains nature and wild lives near the down town area. We also can see dear, fox, raccoon on our way back to home in the evening. Sometimes bears are witnessed at backyard in spring and we are restricted to keep staying home. What different between Sapporo and Huston is their future population. It is expected to decrease one fifith in Sapporo in contrast to increase two folds in dozens of years. I know Texus, Huston is famous for its NASA and oil industries. I again understand US is still a growing country. (Yet we also pay attention to the report that hundreds of towns are bankrupting and residents are leaving their home towns in US.)

    by: Manda Ginjiro from: Minami, Osaka, JPN
    August 17, 2013 7:34 PM
    Houses in the US are too big to live. You do NOT need so huge area to live. Please live more compact and reduce CO2 for wildlife. American people have been wasting all kind of resources such as oil, gas and food.
    In Response

    by: miss_msry from: USA
    August 19, 2013 4:49 PM
    You are so right, the houses in Houston (and most of the USA) are much too big.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.