While flood control has become a major priority in recent months, Jones Park has long preserved one of the area’s original flood control systems: wetlands.
In the Houston area, rainwater runoff is channeled through a system of streams and tributaries east into the San Jacinto River and finally south to Galveston Bay. Some of this rain collects in wetlands, which support a variety of plant and animal species.
Located along Spring and Cypress creeks and near the West Fork of the San Jacinto River, Jones Park features an extensive wetland system of floodplain forests, cypress ponds, swamps, and creeks.
These wetlands act as a buffer for surrounding neighborhoods and help slow and filter floodwaters. Areas near these wetlands may benefit from natural flood mitigation and erosion control, which can significantly prevent property damage and even save lives.
Wetlands at Jones Park
While devastating to homes, vehicles, and businesses, floods can be beneficial in the right environment. In nature, floodwaters can revitalize existing wetlands, reshape the land, and create new habitats. Even now, the natural process of flooding and erosion continues to change the land physically and environmentally, although abundant vegetation can help stabilize creek banks and slow this process.
For example, Jones Park’s popular cypress bogs, originally part of Spring Creek, formed over thousands of years of flooding, erosion, and other wind and weather events. As the land changed, plant and animal life suited to soggy conditions moved into the area.
Today, visitors can access the bogs at Jones Park through an elevated boardwalk system, where they can view 400-year-old cypress trees, protruding cypress knees, and a variety of plant and animal life. Bald cypress trees are one of the few trees that can grow year-round in standing water. These “knees” are an adaptation that helps it survive in its watery habitat.
Plants and animals commonly found along the Boardwalk Trail include turtles, frogs, snakes, waterfowl, fish, and mammals. After a heavy rain, visitors can spot these creatures in abundance. Migrating birds also visit wetlands to rest and feed during their cross-continental journeys and as nesting sites.
Often called nurseries of life, wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems. According to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, up to 90 percent of Texas’ saltwater and freshwater fish species depend on wetlands for food, spawning, and nursery grounds.
Not only are wetlands beneficial, but they can also be recreational. They are great locations for fishing, canoeing, hiking, and bird-watching, and they make wonderful outdoor classrooms for people of all ages. They provide recreation to area residents and habitat to native wildlife.
Want to help Jones Park maintain this beautiful area? Contact Debbie Banfield at 281-446-8588 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on volunteer opportunities at the park.