Throughout its’ history, The Woodlands has maintained its’ philosophy of maintaining 25-28% of open space so residents can enjoy the many parks, pathways, golf courses, lakes, forest preserve and natural wooded buffers. The Woodlands currently has 7,605 acres of open space, 209 miles of connected hike and bike trails and 140 parks.
On Friday morning, members of the Bayou Land Conservancy and community leaders, volunteers, and residents from The Woodlands area gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony to unveil the Spring Creek Nature Trail. The grand opening celebrating the completed construction of the new 13-mile natural surface hike and bike trail was the culmination of coordinated efforts between various organizations and over 2500 hours of hard work from volunteers.
Surrounded by lush forest and greenery, the Spring Creek Nature Trail meanders along and across Spring Creek, and is the first trail that’s going to connect Harris and Montgomery Counties and go all the way to I-45.
The Woodlands GREEN has a legacy of partnering with The Woodlands Township. Though it began with recycling, the two entities now work together to promote numerous sustainability related educational initiatives. This partnership is a reflection of the history and vision of The Woodlands, and the desire of Woodlands founder George P. Mitchell to obtain a better balance between urban development and the natural environment (LINK).
Many residents choose The Woodlands because of this balance of natural beauty, sensible development, and cultural amenities. The educational programs and activities offered by The Woodlands GREEN give residents a way to get involved and support positive environmental and sustainability actions around the community.
What is the vision?
From its inception in 1974, The Woodlands has pioneered the blending of nature with modern development practices, creating a new standard in the quality of community development. One of the original goals of The Woodlands plan was to maintain the natural forested environment through the development process. This has been accomplished through several means:
- Maintain approximately 28% of the community’s land area in forest preserves, parks, lakes, golf courses, and other types of open space.
- Maintain forest preserves along major roadways including major thoroughfares and collector streets.
- Maintain the greenbelts along natural streams
- Construct open swales instead of concrete-lined channels.
- Establish forest preserve building setback lines around the perimeter of properties.
- Establish landscape standards within properties such as within parking lots and around buildings.
- Develop maximum land coverage percentages for different land uses and locations.
“Alright how are we going to get the proper planning on this?” And we decided at that time that we wanted an important environmental planner, so we hired Ian McHarg, a noted environmentalist, to do the design on the planning for the environmental area.
...You ask the people of The Woodlands what they like best -- you like the education, you like the traffic, you like this or that. Every year for the last 30 years they keep saying, “We like the trees.” That’s what they always say. Their top priority is to try and save the trees, which we did.
Mr. Galatas is quoted saying that "George Mitchell wanted to build a community where people could live, work, play and learn. That was our guiding principle. Our mission that George gave us was to save the trees. It was pretty simple - and we can still enjoy that today." The original development plan called for saving 23% of the forest, a goal unheard of in suburban development at the time. Today, the actual number is 27%. The Township continues to sustain this legacy with its ongoing reforestation program.
Two mature bald eagles have lived in the area near Lake Woodlands since 2000, nest hopping at least five times since settling in the area. Their current nest, which they've kept for the past four years, is located in a tree right next to Lake Front Circle, not far from The Woodlands United Methodist Church.
...LeBlanc said that Texas has created new prime real estate for the birds of prey. The man-made lakes and other bodies of water full of fish, like Lake Woodlands, coupled with tall trees, make for a perfect habitat for the eagles.
To continue the protection of the bald eagles at Hughes Landing, The Woodlands Development Co. has built its plans for the mixed-use development around the birds, leaving a 4.6-acre forest buffer around the nest. They are particularly careful that construction nearby does not disturb the birds during the nesting period, which stretches from October to June, LeBlanc explained.
One of the original goals of The Woodlands’ plan was to maintain the natural forested environment. This has been accomplished through several means:
- Maintain forest preserves along major roadways
- Maintain the greenbelts along the natural streams
- Establish building setback lines around the perimeter of properties
- Establish landscape standards within properties
- Develop maximum coverage percentages for different land uses and locations
- Establish the legal means to develop and enforce these goals through the Covenants, Development Standards, Development Criteria established for each parcel prior to sale, restrictions related to land use, density, and other factors contained in recorded deeds, and by monitoring and enforcing the Standards through the various design review committees.
While the Standards have been refined (and improved) over the years, all of the above remain intact from the original vision.
- The Woodlands Township’s 2018 Economic Outlook Presentation
- The Woodlands Township Pond and Lake Management Plan
- Updated Integrated Forestry Management Plan
- Creekside Park Village Center
- The Woodlands Community Facts
- 1972 Project Agreement Between The United States of America and The Woodlands Development Corporation
- Open Space in The Woodlands
- The Woodlands Texas Environmental Action Plan 2006