Memorial Park Conservancy BioCycle Program

Memorial Park, Houston, TX, 77007, USA

Project Partners: 

City of Houston

What started this project: 

Following the devastation of Hurricane Ike in 2008 and the severe drought conditions in 2011 and 2012, Memorial Park experienced a devastating loss of canopy trees. The Conservancy removed tens of thousands of dead trees, shredded them, and stockpiled the mulch within a relatively isolated portion of the park near Buffalo Bayou and the adjacent railroad corridor. The large pile of mulch has been decomposing since 2013, creating high-quality, valuable and much needed compost.

Goals: 
  1. Minimize the ecological impact of park projects through recycling of natural resources
  2. Maximize the use of the inadvertent development of a large mulch pile, created from a hurricane and drought, that was onsite but unused.
  3. Develop awareness for urban parks in developing onsite soil amendments on a large scale.
Process: 

The process catalyzed through the immediate need to purchase soil amendments, exceeding $250,000, for a project. Additionally, the Park, an important urban forest that has suffered significant ecological degradation, will need soil amendments for future projects. A business plan was developed through our Park research program in conjunction with professional soil biologists. The planning process was approximately 6 months. The initial harvesting was 30 days. A plan is underway to develop a year-round program for future needs.

Results: 

The initial harvesting resulted in 1100 yards of rich compost. Windrows are being installed to advance woody debris to mulch than compost. The Conservancy is also working with our onsite neighbor, the Arboretum, to take spoils from capital improvements and develop soil amendments for their use.

Project Tagline: 

In 2017, the Conservancy launched a robust BioCycle program, a fundamental piece of MPC's ecological restoration program. The program created an annual program for creating site-specific nutrient rich soil amendments. The genesis was a large mulch pile, covering nearly 2 acres with a depth of 5 feet trees lost to the devastating 2011 drought, and subsequent extreme weather events, in addition to trees removed for ongoing capital infrastructure improvements. Working with nationally recognized soil biologists, the soil was analyzed and found to be teeming with beneficial biology and mycorrhizal fungi, creating exceptional compost.