Development ACC E L ERAT E S
Harris County’s population has increased by nearly 2 million residents and 645,000 new housing units since 1990. Most of Cy-Fair’s growth has taken place in master-planned communities east of the Grand Parkway. 87% of Cy-Fair is built out as of January 2020, up from 83% in 2014. 8% of Cy-Fair consists of parks, preserves, lakes and undevelopable oodway. SOURCES: POPULATION AND SURVEY ANALYSTS, TEXAS A&M NATURAL RESOURCES INSTITUTE, U.S. CENSUS BUREAUCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
acres of working lands were lost from 1997-2017 in Harris County—including farmland, woods and grazing space.
37,500+ new housing units are planned for the Cy-Fair area from 2020-29.
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have incorporated natural elements residents and animals alike can enjoy. HeathMelton, the executive vice pres- ident for master-planned community residential development at the How- ard Hughes Corp., said hiking and biking trails, parks and open space are among the top amenities homebuyers are seeking in Bridgeland. “The dedication of open space … is not a requirement. That’s something we elect to do so we can make sure that we provide areas where we’re either restoring nature or attracting nature and also giving our residents a place to really engage with nature as well as [for recreation],” Melton said. State of local wildlife Diana Foss, a Houston-based urban wildlife biologist with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, assists city and county agencies, developers and private landowners seeking to enhance their properties for wildlife. Leading up to the construction of a major new project, a developer clears o the property to plot out where
homes and other infrastructure might be placed on a clean slate. Foss said animals such as frogs, turtles and liz- ards might not survive this clearing of land, and animals that do make it out are tasked with nding a new home. “The problem comes when they get to that new habitat because, most likely, there’s already animals using that spot, so there’s some competi- tion going on. It’s survival of the t- test,” she said. “When they’re in their original habitat, they’re there for a reason—because they have plenty of food, water, shelter and space.” Harris County has grown by nearly 2 million residents and 645,000 hous- ing units since 1990, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Much of this growth has taken place in the north- west area, including Cy-Fair. As new infrastructure is established in these growing areas, Warwick said native plants are critical for a healthy animal population. Squirrels and birds nd secure homes in mature trees, and smaller creatures in the food chain have access to pollen from
native plants, she said. Harris County lost about 27% of its cropland, timber and grazing space from 1997-2017, according to a report from the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute. But during the same time frame, the county saw an increase in space reserved for wildlife management. Several programs highlight nature locally while incorporating multiple uses, including the Cypress Creek Gre- enway Project, which was designed to preserve existing natural habitats, provide opportunities for recreation and reduce ooding along the creek. “If you look at your property and you block o those areas and say, ‘We’re not going to bulldoze that; we’re going to protect that and use that as part of a green space for the neighborhood,’ … everybody’s going
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invading animals’ territories—from birds who have their nests destroyed when trees are trimmed to baby opos- sums whose mothers are hit by vehi- cles, she said. “Every year we get an increase [in animal rescues],” she said. “As the sub- urbs continue to grow, we’re using up more and more of their habitat, and so they don’t have anywhere to go.” Fewer than 25 square miles of the Cy-Fair region are left undeveloped, and more than 37,500 new housing units are planned for the area from 2020-29, according to demographers at Population and Survey Analysts. This includes nearly 18,500 sin- gle-family homes and 17,200 multi- family units mostly located within master-planned communities south of Hwy. 290 and east of the Grand Parkway, including Bridgeland, Dun- ham Pointe, Canyon Lakes West, Towne Lake and a future develop- ment owned by Landmark Industries. Developers in these communities
to be happy,” Foss said. Developing responsibly
Foss said it is best to identify poten- tial ways to develop around the exist- ing habitats before clearing the space.
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