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.
Greg Flakus
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

Video Anti-Muslim Sponsor of Texas Cartoon Contest Draws Ire

Pamela Geller's supporters say she speaks truth about sensitive topic, while critics say she preaches 'that Islam is inherently evil' More

East Meets West in Exhibition Showing Chinese Influence on Fashion

Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition juxtaposes influence of art, imagery and culture, from Imperial China to the present day, on Western fashion and design More

South Africa Begins New Love Affair With Vinyl Records

Enthusiasts say the 'rebirth' of vinyl is resulting in a rebirth of music in South Africa More

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.
Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalistsi
X
May 04, 2015 3:32 PM
Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs