WASHINGTON, February 13 -
Mr. Speaker, I regret not being able to be here in Memorial Park with all of you this morning, but I am joining you in celebration today from Washington, DC. Memorial Park is my favorite place to run. The three-mile, crushed granite trail was once shaded and surrounded by the most beautiful trees. As you all know, the 2011 Texas drought took its toll and because of it, there's one thing that is becoming more and more noticeably absent: our Texas trees.
In 2006, I obtained $28.5 million in funding for beautification, erosion prevention and flood-control programs in the Houston area. One year later, over 20,000 trees were planted along Will Clayton and Highway 59. Thousands more trees have been planted along Houston Freeway, which I call Treeways. Many of the trees were planted by civic groups and non-profits. Apache Corporation was one of the groups that donated thousands of trees. I want to thank the thousands of volunteers who showed up that rainy, muddy morning during a Texas Gully Washer to help plant trees. Today, the trees are maturing and thriving--I smile every time I see them. I now refer to our highways as treeways.
I support the goals and ideals of National Arbor Day, and I wholeheartedly support the planting as well as the management of healthy trees in our community. I would like to recognize the City of Houston, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Memorial Park Conservancy, Apache Corporation and the citizens of Houston as they celebrate the value and beauty of trees in our community. By planting trees today, we are taking the necessary steps to ensure the quality of life for those who come after us.
In 2009, Mayor Bill White started the Million Trees + Houston program. The goal was to plant more than a million new trees in the City of Houston, and today, Houston Parks and Recreation along with Apache Corporation will plant its 3 millionth tree.
And that's just the way it is.