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Chambers County studies nature- and agri-tourism

By Amy Condon
Strategy Team Recommendations
CHAMBERS COUNTY– The Strategy Team included Dr. Bob Randall, founder of Houston’s Urban Harvest; Amos Cooper, Assistant Area Manager, and Monique Slaughter, Natural Resource Specialist, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Miles Phillips, State Program Leader-Nature Tourism, Texas Agrilife Extension Service; Kristina Hardwick, Public Outreach Specialist, Houston-Galveston Area Council; and Will Abberger, Conservation Finance Associate Director, The Trust for Public Land.
The Strategy Exchange produced a series of recommended actions, some of which were overarching tools, such as:
Promoting the Greenprint as a unified conservation vision for Chambers County; Establishing a web-based site for the county and municipalities to use the Greenprint for planning purposes;
Increasing access to information and resources through a variety of venues; Creating small, manageable demonstration projects to achieve success and build upon them; Diversifying agricultural and tourism activities for sustainable economic development; Providing youth education in natural environment and agriculture to raise the next generation of leaders; and,
Increasing the County’s capacity for grantwriting, marketing and technology.
Specific strategies advanced by the Exchange Team involved the following:

Educating those who want to produce alternative products;
Helping youth develop an interest in farming;
Helping existing farmers who want to explore alternative markets;
Conducting an inventory of existing nature-based tourism opportunities;
Providing resources to landowners interested in creating nature-based experiences;
Earmarking existing funds to hire a wildlife/nature marketing and development professional;
Forming a landowner wildlife cooperative educational group;
Investigating and prioritizing land conservation and enhanced access funding program for Chambers County;
Establishing a dedicated source of county funding for land conservation and enhanced access;
Establishing dedicated funding in municipalities to leverage county, state and federal dollars for recreational access and conservation;
Providing information to landowners who could benefit from land conservation techniques;
Surveying industrial/corporate properties to assess the amount habitat land owned and managed by businesses;
Conducting a connectivity analysis of corporate lands for encouraging habitat linkages;
Establishing a county awards program for corporate stewardship; and
Reviewing subdivision guidelines at the municipal and county levels to ensure compatibility with habitat protection.
TPL will be combining the Strategy Exchange Report with a Conservation Funding Feasibility Analysis and the Greenprint Maps into a comprehensive Chambers County Greenprint for Growth report that, ultimately, will be presented to the County leadership for consideration.
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. To learn more about the Chambers County Greenprint for Growth, contact Linda Shead at TPL’s Coastal and Southeast Texas Field Office, 713-226-7200, or at linda.shead@tpl.org.
The Chambers County Greenprint for Growth and Conservation Project was funded primarily by a grant from the Coastal Coordination Council, pursuant to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Award No. NA06NOS4190219, with additional support from the Galveston Bay Estuary Program of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Houston Endowment.