Harris County Natural Heritage Program
Presented to Harris County Historical Commission - February 22, 2011
by Frank Salzhandler
This County represents a legacy of natural history encompassing the countryside and its ecosystems. Elements of Harris County’s natural heritage include: native habitats, landforms, bayou waterways, springs and unique patterns of historical environments. Landscape patterns set by geological events stemming from glaciation relate to 12,000 year-old rare formations created by Buffalo Bayou.
Parts of Harris County echo with the sounds of our natural history; ecosystems that provide millions of dollars in ecotourism draw people from all over the world.
Year-round, enthusiasts enjoy a vast array of native and migratory bird species that use coastal bayou systems for food and shelter.
Along Harris County’s portion of this magnificent heritage, one is likely to find diverse flora representative of riparian and wetland zones, prairies, and bottomland hardwood forests, providing a chance to see over 100 representative species from three ecosystems and allowing one to pass over cypress tributaries, into pocket prairies, with native grasses and flowers, to scenic overlooks of bayous within a rich riparian zone.
Time and again, the diversity and natural beauty of native flora will surprise and amaze the unsuspecting.
However, this natural heritage is disappearing. Preservation depends on knowledge bestowed upon current and future generations who will adopt the information as their personal heritage and legacy.
Acknowledgement and respect for all attributes identified in terms of social settlement patterns along Buffalo Bayou and its tributaries create preservation guidelines for residents, visitors and future generations.
The Harris County Natural Heritage Program includes an inventory and catalogue of natural history that supports conservation of the rarest and most outstanding elements of aboriginal diversity, including the following: geology, native flora and fauna, as well as other biodiversity and geodiversity so significant as to merit special consideration.
This irreplaceable legacy is inherited from past generations maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations.