Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)
Throughout the years, our area has experienced great growth. As new people came into the area, more housing, schools and businesses were built to accommodate the increasing population. In our once densely wooded community, one thing is now becoming noticeably absent: the trees.
My family and I have lived in this area for more than 30 years. I, like many residents, chose this area because of the “livable forest” it provides.
It is understandable that trees are the price we must pay for progress and growth. However, we do not have to sit on the sidelines and watch our neighborhood streets grow bare and our highways bleak. The good news is that we have already taken the first step to do something about it.
With the backing of local citizens, community leaders, chambers of commerce and the Greater Houston Partnership, I requested money from Transportation and Infrastructure funds and we were successful in obtaining $22.8 million in federal funds for greater Houston area landscaping projects. This funding was secured through the Transportation Equity Act, which was signed into law by President George Bush last year.
These dollars will pay for approximately 21 landscaping projects along freeways, interchanges and thoroughfares throughout the Houston area. It will reinforce and expand the Texas Department of Transportation's existing landscaping efforts in our region.
Building new roads and freeways is more than just laying concrete, it’s keeping a watchful and responsible eye on our resources and our surroundings. This funding will be used to beautify our highways with new landscaping, while also helping environmentally by combating erosion, creating flood control and improving air quality for our area. Large scale landscaping will also have a positive impact on economic development by attracting businesses to the area, increasing property values and bringing tourists, visitors, and new consumer attitudes to the region. Environmentally, trees help mange flood-control problems by catching the water and reducing the rate at which the water hits the ground. Trees also improve air quality by absorbing polluting gases and attaching particulate matter to their leaves.
Our local landscaping projects will be completed in phases. The first phase is the Will Clayton Parkway project near Bush Intercontinental Airport. On Arbor Day, Jan. 27, from 7 a.m. until 12 p.m., volunteers are needed to plant 20,000 trees from U.S. 59 to Lee Road. Remarkably, these trees will all be planted in a single day.
You are encouraged to participate in this project. All you have to do is show up and be willing to plant 5 gallon trees with other residents. We have already received the funding from Congress; now we need people who will come out and dig in the dirt to make a difference for their community.
We need to make sure trees are around for future generations and don’t become a thing of the past. By planting trees today, we are taking necessary steps to ensure the quality of life for those who will come after us. Let’s keep our area the “Livable Forest.”
And that’s just the way it is.