Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Woodlands Forest Understory Wins One

The residents in The Woodlands Texas won over the development  company in some conservation of forest last night at the Sterling Ridge Village Association Meeting. Joel Deretchin brought some good news to those who were concerned about losing vegetation which shielded their homes from view. Yaupon is too often thought of as a trash tree. It provides important berries for birds and wildlife, as well as provides the undergrowth to help protect our large trees. A forest is not a tree and a tree is not a forest. To save the forest, we must also retain the understory, not just retain the large diameter trees, but the full forest of canopy and understory.

A green area in the Tarramont Park area shields homes on the golf course from traffic, giving the residents their privacy. The Woodlands Development Company decided to remove it without talking to residents, to provide a view of the golf course from the road.  After a few residents observed the activity, more came to an awareness of this project. Many residents expressed concern and became very outspoken on the issue. The Development Company stopped the project and formulated a plan that hopefully will include the residents on future clearing projects.  They will replace that which they removed and leave the green area in place.

After a certain point in development, the company needs to include residents on anything they do. This type of issue has risen many times. After people invest in properties, they have a large stake in further development and changes about them. The development company has the responsibility to include them in future decisions to change green areas. The Yaupon and other understory species are an important part of our forest. We need more sensitivity of their presence and role.  Green areas are important to residents. There are proven psychological and value advantages for having the full diversity forest in our midst.

As the people in the room clapped, I could see an element of surprise on the face of Mr Deretchin. This was much more important than the development company realized. It is also a lesson on general policy of inclusion of residents. It had the potential of blowing up and being blasted out to the news media with a red flag of resident investment risk.  

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