Development Co. replants area wetlands

The 66-acre Hughes Landing mixed-use development features a wetland area that was the site of a $600,000 restoration project.

The 66-acre Hughes Landing mixed-use development features a wetland area that was the site of a $600,000 restoration project.

The Woodlands Development Company and The Woodlands Township have partnered to revive a wetlands pond in Hughes Landing by bringing back native plant species to the area.

Jim Carman, vice president of commercial development with the Howard Hughes Corporation, said the Development Company and the township knew the wetlands needed updated flora.   

“As part of the whole Hughes Landing [development], there was an existing wetlands that, over time, deteriorated with nonnative plants and species in it—and trash,” Carman said. “We looked at the master plan and said, ‘Let’s look at the wetlands and make it beautiful and of interest to the public.’”

Hughes Landing is a 66-acre mixed-use development located along Lake Woodlands Drive on the northeast shore of Lake Woodlands. The development includes Restaurant Row, One Lakes Edge apartments, retail shopping and several office buildings.

The wetland area is adjacent to Lake Woodlands and stretches from the bridge on Hughes Landing Boulevard up to Lake Front Circle.

The $600,000 project, which began in February and was completed in September, included digging up the nonnative plant species and replacing them with native wetlands and bog plants and planting trees along the banks of Lake Woodlands, Carman said.

“Then we built a really cool observation plaza and boardwalk that takes you down into the wetlands area,” he said. “You can sit and see the wetlands from the plaza, and you can take a stroll.”

Landscape architect Elizabeth Gilbert, with the landscape architect company Clark Condon Associates Inc., said the biggest challenge the wetland architects faced was removing the invasive species—or nonnative plants—before replacing them with the native species, such as squarestem spikerush and pickerelweed.

“Typically, when you are trying to create a healthy wetlands, you don’t want a bunch of invasive stuff in there,” she said. “It looks green and all that, but it’s not really supporting the ecosystem.”

Gilbert said the wetland area will appear sparse at first, but over time the plants will grow and spread. The township will maintain the wetlands, but Gilbert said Clark Condon will remain available to offer assistance when necessary.

“Having that kind of natural feature maintained and protected is what The Woodlands is all about—the design with nature,” said John Powers, assistant general manager for township community services.

The maintenance is estimated to be about $30,000 annually, Powers said.

The definition of a wetland pond includes the depth of the water, the type of soil, water that is always standing and vegetation that surrounds it, he said.

“Wetlands is a very important ecosystem for nature,” Powers said. “Maintaining and protecting those is important.”