Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reedy Pond Park

Seen by all who pass south of Woodlands Parkway on Gosling, this simple but attractive park is mostly pond. It was built for flood control years ago. Since then, this retention pond has been improved various ways. It is named after the reeds that were planted along its banks. In recent years, additional landscape has been added in the form of native trees and bushes. Local residents have been adding tree seedlings along the bank for years hoping to add a little natural landscape around the pond. As a result, there are a number of young Cypress trees along its banks. Recently, a fountain was added at the request of residents who needed white noise to help abate the traffic noise. The park has some natural forest in it also. It is a place where residents fish and have family picnics on the abundant grass which the Parks department maintains quite nicely. One will find a few domestic ducks and wild water birds often on the pond. Occasionally, a deer or two will frequent the park. Although rarely seen, other visitors include Coyotes, Raccoons, Possum, Armadillo, and other small animals. The pond is noted for its Crows. You won't find any additional amenities here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

George Mitchell Preserve and nighttime activities in The Woodlands

Some residents have been murmuring lately about undesired people and sounds coming from the deep forest of the George Mitchell Preserve. I decided to take my dogs for a walk out there right before dark this past week, to see what I could see. Not too far from the entrance, I came across some teenagers playing war, dressed in camouflage clothes. One was wearing some cloth over his face as to conceal his identity. I did not pose any threat to them. Their weapons mimicked assault weapons, automatic or semi-automatic weapons. These were simply paint ball guns which looked something like this. I can see how some residents would not like to see this and quite frankly, I was a bit startled at first. I guess parents these days permit their children to play war with this equipment and let them go anywhere with it. Personally, it does not seem like a reasonable thing to do in our public parks. "Nonpowder guns (ball-bearing [BB] guns, pellet guns, air rifles, paintball guns) continue to cause serious injuries to children and adolescents." 1 The issue is not the paint ball material but the velocity of the projectile and the consequences to others.

Then I went deeper into this wonderful natural forest arriving at a place where there was significant standing water and decided I had better get back home. It was turning pretty dark. I had taken some photographs of Hurricane Ike's damage and felt that I had a pretty good handle on how the trees fared there. So on the way back, some other teenagers approached me, heading into the forest with sleeping bags and backpacks. Then I overheard a conversation. "We are going to have a campfire pretty soon. It is sure getting cold." I then asked them when they arrived where I was standing, "are you headed into the park?". They responded, "sure". I told them "the park is closing right now. You should be heading the other way". They said of course, "I did not know that". They continued to move into the forest, so I told them, "I will inform the parks department when I get home that you are here". I left them and then in a few minutes observed them following me back out of the park. I went on another path to see what I could see there and the group went on to the parking lot. In 10 minutes I returned to the parking lot and they were still there, sitting in their car. One of them was on a bicycle going back into the forest but when he saw me, he returned and all of them left. I did not report their activity to the parks department, trusting that the kids would not return. A few minutes earlier, I also saw three boys leaving the forest with a guitar case. I am unsure what was inside but since it was dark, I could not be assured that they were not the same three boys who were having the paint ball wars. I knew there were more than three boys engaged in that activity, because the boys were yelling to another group to come to them. My suspicion was that there were paint ball guns in the case.

This was a Saturday night and I expect to see teenagers there even though the park is closed and they should not be there. However, it is obvious that their activities are not exactly what we would like to see in a public park. Paint Ball wars are not good for the elderly nor for babies and the paint would not likely affect the environment, because of the natural ingredients. The boys probably were not intending to harm anything.

I became convinced that indeed there are nighttime unsupervised activities there which need to be contained. Where do boys go for a camp-out around here? We do not want fires in our forest for obvious reasons. There are no campsites that I know of and no rangers to supervise the children. Let's be reminded that our parks resemble areas where kids go camping in Boy Scouts. There is plenty of firewood, so the threat of having a major forest fire is definitely there. We need to take some action to quiet the parks at night and lower the risks of fire and other consequences of our teens playing unsupervised in the parks at night. There have been rumors of drug dealing. I am aware of pot smoking in the parks but not major drug deals. We need to see some police work in these areas, or at least some presence of rangers who will contact the parents and inform them about the issues of their children being in the parks after closing. Communicating about the safety hazards of paint ball wars and camping in our parks might be a good project for someone.

1Injury Risk of Nonpowder Guns

This park is managed by Montgomery County.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cattail Park

Cattail Park is right on Cochran's Crossing. It is popular for its dog friendly area complete with poop bags. This very nice area park usually has plenty of parking. The park is adjacent to the creek. Some of the low lying areas right next to the park floods and leaves swampy areas nearby. The baseball diamond The dog park will often have quite a few pets running about. If you take your loved one here, make sure he has his vaccinations in order. He will be socializing with other dogs.
Woodlands Dog Park Club - rules and safety tips There is a small gazebo that can be rented from the Parks department. Tennis courts and childrens' area

Mystic Forest Park

A unique park among parks of The Woodlands. It is an area park, full of large trees and plenty of tables and BBQ pits. Tots and children area. Unlit basketball court. Decorated walkway and picnic table areas. There are also picnic tables nested in a forested area. This is the only park in The Woodlands where the tennis courts are not lit. There is another nearby park with lighted tennis courts for residents just a few blocks away on Cochran's Crossing. This park is right off of Cochran's Parking at 10 E. Amberglow Cr.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Southshore (Dragon Park)

Southshore (also known as Dragon Park)is popular for some folks. Fishing is one attraction. One will often see people fishing on the rocks on near the pavilion there. This park is also popular for a night visit to view the lake and homes along the lake. It is a romantic spot and one will often see couples holding hands and walking the park in the evenings. It is a place for a picnic with usually plenty of green grass and a good view of the lake. Access is not necessarily easy. One needs to park on the west side off of the road on the parkway, or park away and walk to the park via the pathway(s) which go to nearby streets. There are plenty of ducks in the park. It is normal to see this bird on the head of the dragon. He typically spreads his wings out like this to flirt with the girls.

The pavilion and green grass makes this a good place to stop on a Sunday afternoon just to get outside with the family. It provides photo opportunities for the family.

As one travels west or east on Woodlands Parkway, it is very easy to miss what occurs under the bridge. The Egrets, ducks and various other water birds are feasting around the lake's dam. The scene next to Southshore Park (known by some as Dragon Park because of the green dragon in the water) is one to be seen by the visitors to the park. The birds are somewhat skittish and remove themselves from the water should a person approach, but stay close to their favorite feeding grounds, ready to return as soon as it gets quiet enough.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Golden Sage Park

This neighborhood park is a little larger than most. It has a Gazebo with a couple of tables, some BBQ pits, sitting bench and a children playground.

These are full screen sized photos so you can click on any one you want to get detail. This park is found at Golden Sage Dr and Sylvan Forest Dr.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rainprint Park

This little neighborhood park is located in Panther Creek on E White Willow Cr. It has a children play area, a tot's play area and a grill.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

LeHigh Springs Park

This neighborhood park has amenities for toddlers and older children. With benches and a table, it can usually provide sufficient facilities for most local families. It is located on Lehigh Springs Dr.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Northshore Park

Each photograph is a full sized page when you click on the photo. The entrance to this park is on Lake Woodlands Drive just west of the Lake Woodlands bridge, west of Town Center. Mapquest link

This is one of the most highly used parks in The Woodlands. It is located on Lake Woodlands. It is the place to take families and visitors alike. You find fisherman here, with family and neighborhood gatherings, or just an occasional duck admirer. This is a place to bring the children to watch baby ducks in the Spring or have a whole flock circle about you. BBQ or roast some wieners on the grills. In the summer, this is the location for Sunday evening free concerts. Also, the Rowing Club is active with boat storage on site and an annual regatta in the spring. You will find the annual YMCA Dragon Boat festivities here in September. Recently, the park's hours were extended to 11PM to accommodate those who need late park hours, especially giving fishermen a place to hang their hats (and park their cars) in the evening. Normally the parks in The Woodlands close at dusk. One can fish from the shores of the park for catfish, perch, Crappie and anything else in the water. The fish can be kept as this lake is not restricted to the catch and release limitations as are the ponds of The Woodlands. However, any small body of water is easily contaminated with chemicals or feces. I do not recommend eating fish out of such a location.

For boaters, this is a good place to go to launch a Kayak, sailboat, Jon boat or canoe. Motor boats are not allowed except for electric motors. There should be no boat wake on the water. This is the location of the summer concerts. Families will bring their chairs to sit out on the grass and a picnic to watch and enjoy the performing musicians. This large covered pavilion is ideal for group parties and can be reserved through the park department of The Woodlands. Families and groups enjoy outdoor grass games in the area in front of the children playground. A small Gazebo for group events. Along the shoreline of Lake Woodlands where the fisherman will typically be found. The swarm of ducks. Domestic and wild ducks live on this pond. Fewer are seen this day than normal. Notice the bridge. The boat ramp is visible, along with a fishing pier, close to that bridge. Children's playground. Rowing club practicing a race.

Related sources

Friday, July 11, 2008

Alcohol in The Woodlands Texas Park System

This commentary is intended to be an adjunct of a proposal to outlaw alcohol beverages in the park system of The Woodlands.

The Woodlands community has been concerned about an issue with violence in one particular park in Grogan's Mill. At the first July meeting, the WCA board discussed the issue. A proposal is being considered to eliminate alcohol from the park system to mitigate the risk of future violence and crime in our parks.

Although I do not condone excessive alcohol consumption, I do have a position that we should not outlaw its consumption in our park system. Our community parks are for the general public. We have several levels of parks that should be considered however. The neighborhood parks for children should not have alcohol, but I am unaware of any related problems in this respect. In the village parks, many people enjoy having a beer, especially in the summertime. That alcohol is consumed with BBQ prepared on the grills and in general,in very normal family and friend gatherings. People fishing on the ponds enjoy a beer, just like they do elsewhere. Picnics will often be accompanied by alcoholic beverages, including wine. This is an amenity which many people can and do enjoy. I would like our parks to attract all of our residents and be comfortably used as they are intended.

A more palatable solution might be to focus on the human behaviors at the parks which is the real issue, not the consumption of beverages. Drunkenness should not be allowed, just like it is not allowed on the streets. Public intoxication is something that law enforcement deals with regularly. This might be a more acceptable solution to everyone. What is really needed is a way to enforce a set of behavioral rules on property belonging to The Woodlands.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Reedy Pond park, Woodlands, Texas: Ducks, Dragonflies, and Fish

Reedy Pond-21 This is a walking tour of the pond on one early Sunday morning. A late season brood of ducks has highlighted the life on the pond during the past week. There were no ducks on it two weeks ago and suddenly one female arrived, built a nest and incubated her 10 little ducklings. Nine have survived the first week. Reedy Pond-20 These little fluffy creatures follow their mama's instructions. It is amazing to see the mama seemingly not do anything to tell the babies what to do, but the babies follow whatever she wants in unison. Look closely and you will recognize some of these behavioral patterns in the photos. Reedy Pond-11
Reedy Pond-9
Reedy Pond-10
This day, the fish were waiting for a handout. Reedy Pond-16
Reedy Pond-18
I tried to catch varying lighting situations as the morning sun shined through the brush and into the water; the results are apparent. Reedy Pond-19
Suddenly I noticed quite a few Dragonflies. Their adult lives are very short, about 60 days. Reedy Pond-13
Reedy Pond-15
And then there is also more than one species. Reedy Pond-14
Click on any of these photographs and you will be directed to a folder containing these and related photographs from the same shoot in By the way, the fish in these photos are probably no longer alive. A man brought his 6 or 7 children to the pond the same afternoon and put everything he caught in an ice chest. Of course when I asked him if he knew this was a catch and release pond, he said "no", even though there are two signs on the property, one just a few feet from where he was fishing. Then after he told me his lie,trying to justify has action, he added, "I know many people who come here who do the same thing." I am guessing that he drive 60 in a 45 MPH zone in The Woodlands, because he knows other people that do that also. The children were trashing the area, throwing cans, paper and cartons around while the dad continued to fish. I called for a park ranger who came and talked to them.

I explained to the man that I hoped he was going to clean up behind himself and that I wanted the fish back in the pond. I go to clean up behind such people everyday. They leave their ugly trash in this beautiful pond and around it. It is essentially up to residents to clean up behind them.