Conservationists have long pointed to the Greater Houston area’s disappearing prairie ecosystem as one of the causes of urban flooding during heavy rains and storms.

Groups such as the Katy Prairie Conservancy work to protect and restore upstream grasslands, and now a new initiative announced by Mayor Sylvester Turner on Nov. 30 aims to do the same in Houston’s core.

The Urban Prairie Resiliency Project will restore 8 acres of grasslands at New Hope Housing and Star of Hope’s Cornerstone Community Campus, an affordable housing development in south Houston near Hwy. 288 and Reed Road. The outdoor space will improve storm water retention and serve as a wildlife habitat and recreational space, according to a news release.

The city was awarded a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in collaboration with Wells Fargo to fund the project.

“The result will be a more resilient Campus that provides health and financial services to a vulnerable population, affordable housing, and integrates the value of natural habitat to the built environment to create a stronger, healthier, and more resilient community,” Turner said in the release.

City officials will host a public workshop period before work begins. The project is expected to wrap up by December 2023.

The work is part of the city’s Resilient Houston plan, a longterm framework to address socioeconomic and environmental threats.

“The partnership model established in the Urban Prairie Resiliency Project can serve as a scalable model for future implementation of resilience projects in Houston,” he said.