Winter 2018 | Volume 30, Issue 1
An Update from Jesse Jones Park Volunteers

While we’ve all witnessed the devastating effects of flooding, hurricanes, and drought in our region, I want to remind everyone that nature can also be gentle, beautiful, and persistent. Take the butterfly, for example. While these delicate creatures only live a few months, I believe they have an important message to share. 

In the poem, Advice from a Butterfly, the author encourages us to “let your true colors show.” In a way, Jones Park is like a caterpillar that will one day unveil its true colors. I’m excited to announce that construction on the Nature Center started the first week in January and renovations are progressing. We should all be thankful for Jones Park’s hardworking staff who have endured much without complaint. In these difficult times, their true colors show, and they’re dazzling! Any Jesse Jones Park Volunteer (JJPV) who would like to assist can volunteer to answer phones, provide lunch or dessert for a day, or contribute to the programs. 

Interior build-out of the new Redbud Hill Storage Facility will start later this year, so we hope everyone can stop by and see the progress. Drawings of the new building are available for pickup at the park.

Much like the Nature Center, our fundraisers need a transformation. To help with fundraising ideas, call Debbie Banfield at the park or email to support and improve Jones Park’s programs and projects. 

I predict this year will bring many highlights, warm memories, and volunteer opportunities. Are you ready? Looking forward to seeing all of you at the next JJPV meeting.

Steve Hostetler,
JJPV president
Nature Center Renovations Begin

By Darlene Conley Hostetler,
Jones Park director

August 2017 was a month many Texans will never forget. Hurricane Harvey brought approximately 38 inches of rainfall over a five-day period to the Humble and Kingwood area and up to 50 inches of rain over the entire region.

The San Jacinto River at Highway 59 crested at more than 69 feet, the highest in recent history. Flood waters overwhelmed the park up to the front entrance gate, measuring 6 feet 4 inches in the Nature Center – two feet higher than the 1994 flood event when the Nature Center flooded for the first time. 

Wetlands at Jones Park

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.

Where Do Turtles Go During a Flood?

When disaster strikes, most animals head to higher ground. Turtles simply hunker down and ride out the storm.

Fast-moving floodwaters would ordinarily have displaced the turtles in Jones Park’s Turtle Pond, but Hurricane Harvey had a different effect, said Jason Naivar, staff naturalist at Jones Park.

“Unless they can wedge themselves into vegetation or a structure, odds are they will get carried downstream,” he said. “But, with Harvey, the water line was up in the tree canopy. This gave the turtles plenty of places to get stuck in the leaves and branches of the trees.”


Join Jones Park at this fun, family friendly event to learn about nature in the Houston area Saturday, March 3 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Enjoy guided walks, educational booths, pontoon boat tours, live animal exhibits, a catch-and-release fishing booth, and other demonstrations. 

Performances by the Chikawa Conroe Aztec Dancers take place on the outdoor stage at 2:30 p.m. and nature photography workshops start at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. 

Visitors will have the opportunity to interact with organizations throughout the Houston area to learn more about plants, animals, recreational and volunteer opportunities, and other ways to get outside and enjoy nature. This is a free event open to all ages. Some walks and tours require reservations and/or have age restrictions. Visit the information table at the event for complete details. 

Want to get more involved? Try volunteering at NatureFest. Contact Debbie Banfield at 281-446-8588 or for more information.
Record-Setting Water Levels

Just how high did floodwaters get at Jones Park? Now, there's an easy way to tell. Usually visitors can look for water marks along tree line or leaves and other debris in strange places. While accurate, these marks usually only last until park staff or nature wash them away.

To create a more permanent marker, Jones Park staff tied colored ribbons around a utility pole after the Spring Floods of 2016 and Hurricane Harvey. In both instances, the water was so deep, staff had to navigate the park by canoe.

Visitors and volunteers can look for a red ribbon to see floodwater levels from Hurricane Harvey and a yellow ribbon marking water levels from the Spring Floods on the utility pole located in the front parking lot.
Volunteers in Action
A Message from the JJPV 1st Vice President

While volunteering at local educational venues this past year for Texas Master Naturalist recertification, Mary Jo and I have become aware of a few wolf sanctuaries, like the St. Francis Wolf Sanctuary in Montgomery, Texas and the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in New Mexico.

These sanctuaries rescue displaced, unwanted, and un-releasable captive-bred wolves and wolf-dogs. Both sanctuaries are supported by amazing groups of volunteers and donors who care for these animals and educate the public. Similarly, Jones Park is blessed with a dedicated staff and an army of volunteers who do a fantastic job of protecting the natural environment in the park and educating the public. That’s why it’s been my pleasure to be a volunteer and serve as president of the board for the past two years.  

See you in the park.
Gary Chapman,
1st vice president
JJPV Elections

While elections are usually held every year in August, JJPV members postponed last year's election until September due to Hurricane Harvey.

Those elected to the 2017-18 board include President Steve Hostetler, 1st Vice President Gary Chapman, 2nd Vice President Sheena Abernathy, Treasurer Don Roe, and Secretary Mary Jo Chapman.

We'd like to thank the 2016-17 outgoing board members for the extra time and commitment they have given the park.

Attend the next JJPV Meeting Monday, March 26 at 7 p.m. and see how the Nature Center is progressing. We hope to see you out and about the park!
Volunteer Opportunities

Want to volunteer as a trail guide, but don’t think you have the knowledge or skill?

Think again. Anyone who enjoys working with children and has a desire to learn can be a trail guide.

If you are interested in trail guide training or need a refresher course, please call the park and ask for Volunteer Coordinator Debbie Banfield at 281-446-8588. 

There are also plenty of other volunteer opportunities at NatureFest, Gardening Daze, Invasives Beware, and more.

Save the Date
Saturday, March 3 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Invasives Beware
Sunday, March 4 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Second Saturday Settlers
    Spinning and Weaving: Saturday, March 10 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. 
   Natural Dyes: Saturday April 14 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

JJPV Meetings
Mondays, March 26 and April 30 at 7 p.m.

Easter Games
Saturday, March 31 at 8:30 a.m.

Saturday, April 21 at 8 a.m.

Invasives Beware/Citizen Scientists Training
Saturday, April 28 at 9 a.m. 

Staff Updates

Outreach Coordinator Celeste Benoit resigned in August due to unexpected priorities. We greatly appreciate all that she added to Jones Park’s programs while she was here. Rodger Lee and Ruth Bauer Garcia also moved on to greener pastures last September. We wish all three the very best moving forward. I also want to welcome new caretaker John Nye, who arrived last October. 

Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center
20634 Kenswick Drive in Humble
Phone: 281-446-8588