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Houston-Galveston Area Council
News Release
Tuesday, December 29, 2009

H-GAC announces Park, Natural Areas Award Winners

H-GAC is pleased to announce the winners of the 2009 Parks and Natural Areas Award competition. These projects serve as models for planning and project implementation for parks and natural areas in the region.

H-GAC received applications in four categories: the Planning Process; Policy Tools; On-the-Ground Projects Under $500,000; and On-the-Ground Projects Over $500,000. Any public, private or non-profit organization was eligible to apply for recognition.

On Tuesday, January 19, 2010, the H-GAC Board of Directors will honor the outstanding parks and natural areas projects during the Board’s regular meeting. A reception will follow at 10:45 a.m.

“These projects exemplify the beauty and diversity that is inherent throughout the Houston-Galveston region,” said Jack Steele, H-GAC Executive Director. “As population growth continues, parks and natural areas will be critical community assets, and their development will require continued planning and commitment by public and private groups. Through this awards program, we are able to collect a library of valuable information about parks and natural areas that can serve as guides for future projects.” 

2009 Award Recipients
Award recipients include Creating Connections - The Sugar Land Hike and Bike Trail Master Plan, winner in the Planning category. Featuring some of the best qualities of trail planning, including usability and comprehensiveness, this plan has been approved by the Sugar Land City Council and has moved into the implementation phase with widespread support. Planning Honorable Mention project is Houston Parks and Recreation Department's (HPARD) Linear Forest.

HPARD Urban Gardening Program - Growing Green in Our City is the winner in the Policy Tools category. This program works with interested community groups to transform city-owned vacant lots and select gardening spots into community gardens. Policy Tools Honorable Mention projects are the Harris County Commissioners Court Resolution Requiring that all Facilities Meet LEED Requirements and The City of Missouri City Hunter's Glen Sprayground.

Friends Park, a small lot in the heart of West University Place, is the winner in the On-the-Ground Projects Under $500,000 category. This project, part of the West University Place 1999 Parks Master Plan, is the result of years of planning, fundraising and design by many area residents, including Friends of West U Parks. The Honorable Mention project is the HPARD Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Tribute Planting.

The Mary Gibbs and Jesse H. Jones Greenway is the winner in the On-the-Ground Projects Over $500,000 category. Designed to connect various sites of interest around Hermann Park, this project also enhances the environment through fostering plant growth and helping combat flooding. The Honorable Mention project is The City of Missouri City’s Buffalo Run Park.

Combined, these projects have added or enhanced more than 180 acres of parks and natural areas and include plans for more than 26 miles of trails. Each of these projects has multiple benefits, including initiatives to conserve water and protect water quality, integrate natural areas in an urban setting, develop community urban green space, and improve quality of life.

Since 2006, the Parks and Natural Areas subcommittee, an extension of H-GAC’s Natural Resources Advisory Committee, has recognized creative and innovative park and natural area projects that implement best management practices in planning, policy and development.

For information about H-GAC’s Parks and Natural Areas planning program, contact Rachel Powers at or 713-993-4559. For complete descriptions and photos of all the winners, visit

Honor Awards Jury
This years’ judges were Mr. Nathan Dietrich, Assistant Director of Planning, City of Shenandoah; Mr. Alfred Fancis “Bud” Gessel, Parks Director, Timber Lane Utility District; Dr. John Jacob, Director of the Texas Coastal Watershed Program; Ms. Kathryn Nichols, Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program of the National Park Service; Ms. Merrie Talley, Principal, Talley Landscape Architects, Inc.

Houston-Galveston Area Council
The Houston-Galveston Area Council ( is a voluntary association of local governments in the 13-county Gulf Coast Planning Region—an area of 12,500 square miles and more than 5.7 million people. H-GAC works to promote efficient and accountable use of local, state, and federal tax dollars and serves as a problem-solving and information forum for local government needs.

Remembering Jim Guidry Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership

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