A newly formed coalition composed of various government, business, public health and environmentally focused experts and organizations announced on Nov. 29 the availability of a new Southeast Texas native seed mix that was developed to improve and combat storm and drought impacts in the Gulf Coast and surrounding region.
Experts from Houston Wilderness organization said invasive turf grasses, such as the St. Augustine and Bermuda, have shallow roots that don't hold sediment from eroding into the waterways during major rain events. The mix of 12 native seeds are scientifically determined to yield a set of grasses and flowering plants that together provide a turf-style landscape that can be used in place of nonnative grasses throughout the region, including:
- Large and small green spaces
- Regional bayou, creeks, river banks
- Residential and commercial lawns
- Grass medians
- Rights of way
The new seed mix have been demonstrated to grow in areas across Greater Houston and the surrounding 13-county region, officials said. The Southeast Texas native seed mix includes species such as:
- Guadalupe Germplasm White Trident
- Lometa Indiangrass
- Cibolo Germplasm Little Barley
- Cajun Sunrise Ashy Sunflower
- Coastal Plains Germplasm Little Bluestem
The Regional Access to Native Seed Mix coalition includes:
- Elected officials
- Business and economic development leaders
- Public health authorities
- Statewide seed growers
- Texas Native Seeds Program
- Natural Resources Conservation Service
What the experts say
Houston Wilderness CEO Deborah January-Bevers said she forecasts that the region could see a demand of at least 28,000 pounds of the new seed mix. She said native seed growers are recognizing that this new mix is going to be worth their money, time and efforts when it comes to not only environmental sustainability, but also storm and drought resilience.
“Houston is fortunate to have a wealth of regional stakeholders and statewide native seed growers and scientists from across sectors who collaborated to develop and launch the Southeast Texas native seed mix. The goals of the RANSM Coalition are focused on improved resilience during impactful environmental events, such as heavy rains during hurricane season, hotter temperatures and periodic droughts,” January-Bevers said.
According to Tina Peterson, Harris County Flood Control District’s executive director, overseeing major infrastructure efforts meant to reduce flood risks throughout Harris County means that a number of projects include the revegetation and re-establishment of turf.
As part of the 2018 flood control’s bond program, she said they’ve re-established turf on more than 3,000 acres throughout Harris County. In terms of the new seed mix, Peterson said they’re using innovation dollars from the bond program to advance work in this area. At least $600,000 has been used to fund the three-year study, Peterson said.
“We know that native seeds and native plants really create an opportunity to create habitats and restore our ecosystems,” Peterson said.
Jim Robertson, Cypress Creek Greenway Project’s chair, said in an email that the native seed mix would be useful in the Cypress area.
“Having something like this available will be very beneficial to restoration efforts in our area,” Robertson said.
More information on the 12-seed mix and where to find its availability can be found here: Native Seed Grower.