Houston Parks and Recreation Department

Mason Park Wetland

 

Tidal Freshwater Wetlands Creation in Mason Park

Unveiling Graphic On Friday, October 27, 2006, a milestone was marked for the ecology of the Brays Bayou watershed. A newly created wetland environment encompassing 3.5 acres was unveiled in Mason Park, located in eastern Houston at the intersection of South 75th and Tipps Streets. The Tidal Freshwater Wetlands project was undertaken by the Texas Coastal Watershed Program, under the auspices of Texas Cooperative Extension/Texas Sea Grant.

The Mason Park project was conceived as part of Harris County Flood Control District's Brays Bayou Flood Damage Reduction Project, an effort to remove 30,000 homes and businesses from the 100-year flood plain. Lowering the bayou banks within Mason Park will help achieve that goal, and lowering them sufficiently to achieve wetland elevation was attainable without significant additional cost.

Texas A&M University's Texas Cooperative Extension/Texas Sea Grant joined the project as part of their program to construct a stormwater best management practice model, essentially a demonstration classroom for engineers. Houston Parks and Recreation Department joined the partnership, and Harris County Flood Control District worked the project and the TCE/TSG funding into their plans for the bayou redesign.

Wetland GraphicWetlands environments like this one are important to the health of waterways and their surrounding ecosystems for a variety of reasons. They act as a buffer for storm runoff, slowing down the flow of floodwater that might otherwise collect downstream faster than it can be discharged, causing it to back up into the streets and residences upstream. They filter pollutants out of the water as it flows through them, cleaning the water there and in environments downstream.  In addition, they act as habitat for a variety of aquatic plants, animals, and fish, making the bayou a healthier, more vibrant, ecosystem.

The Mason Park tidal pools were created through the labor of volunteers, many of them from The Park People, Stephen F. Austin High School and Cesar E. Chavez High School. Thousands of individual plants, representing dozens of species, were raised and planted by students, directed by Texas Coastal Watershed personnel and Texas Master Naturalists. The plants were chosen as much for their natural beauty and their resistance to nonnative animals as for their utility in the wetlands environment.

Project partners include The Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Harris County Flood Control District's Project Brays, Texas Cooperative Extension / Texas Sea Grant, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Master Naturalists, Stephen F. Austin High School, Cesar E. Chavez High School, National Resources Conservation Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Galveston Bay Estuary Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-Texas Coastal Management Program, and NRG, Inc. We thank them all for their support and hard work.

Mason Park has been a part of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department since 1930, when 69.88 acres were donated to the City by Mrs. Dora Porter Mason in honor of her husband, John T. Mason. Pineview Manor Park, a 31.75-acre facility next door, was added to it to create Mason Park. An additional 3.92 acres were purchased from the Texas National Guard Armory Board in 1997. You can find it at 541 S. 75th Street in eastern Houston.