Major Maintenance - Selective Clearing

Major Maintenance - Selective Clearing

Recent Action

Update: Work on the second phase of this project, from just south of the Liberty/Chambers county line to the Huffman/Eastgate area, started in early May 2019 and was completed in July 2019.

Project Description

In 2019, Harris County Flood Control District completed a multi-million-dollar maintenance project to selectively clear trees, remove vegetative debris, and improve stormwater flow along Cedar Bayou from Interstate Highway 10 (I-10) to near Huffman-Eastgate Road.

This watershed lies in the relatively rural easternmost part of Harris County at the boundary with Chambers and Liberty counties. The Flood Control District has conducted selective clearing over the last few years along forested tributaries of Cedar Bayou within Harris County and recently completed a post-Hurricane Harvey debris removal effort in Cedar Bayou which focused mainly on removing channel debris near major bridge crossings. This effort also involved a comprehensive selective clearing of the main Cedar Bayou channel itself.

A $500,000 first phase of the project was completed in late 2018 from IH-10 to just south of the Liberty/Chambers County line. This phase selectively cleared nearly 8 miles of Cedar Bayou with funding through the Flood Control District’s annual operations and maintenance budget.

A 14.5-mile second phase of the selective clearing project was completed in 2019 from near the Liberty / Chambers County line to the Huffman / Eastgate area. The second phase was estimated to cost approximately $1 million for a total project cost was approximately $1.5 million.

Legislation creating the Flood Control District in 1937 authorizes the agency to devise plans to reduce flood damages and to remove natural or artificial obstructions from channels and bayous. The Flood Control District either owns property in fee or holds drainage easements along both banks of Cedar Bayou through the project area. In areas with limited public access, the Flood Control District may seek a temporary right of entry from adjacent landowners to reach the channel.

Selective clearing involves identifying and removing downed trees or trees at imminent risk of failure along forested bayous and drainage channels. The work in the channel and on channel slopes is performed by hand, using chainsaws, machetes and ropes. Contractors travel the channel mostly on foot. A secondary focus of this operation is to leave as much of the native understory as possible, while providing maintenance access and clearing non-native species. This practice helps maintain or restore the channel’s ability to convey stormwater, and promotes a more native shade canopy that will require minimal maintenance.