Environmental Quality Protection, Beautification

SAVE BUFFALO BAYOU

Let's work with nature, not against it.

Houston, TX

Mission

Save Buffalo Bayou advocates for Buffalo Bayou, its many creeks and streams, for nature and modern flood management. The 18,000-year-old river is our main waterway flowing through Houston, much of it relatively natural. Most of what we do is journalism. We write about how streams work and why nature-based flood management works best, costs less, and is better for us and our world. From 2014 through 2017 our efforts centered on a misguided project to dredge and reroute a forested public stretch of the bayou. Since Harvey in August 2017, our broader focus is the most effective policy and practice to reduce our region’s flood threats. We believe in stopping stormwaters before they flood our streams. Slow it down, spread it out, and soak it in. It’s what the rest of the world is doing.

Ruling Year

2015

President, Executive Director, and Trustee

Susan Chadwick

Main Address

3614 Montrose 706

Houston, TX 77006 USA

Keywords

Advocacy, conservation, environment, floodplain management, green infrastructure

EIN

47-2086976

 Number

5866183036

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

Forest Conservation (C36)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

Floodplain management and drainage policies in Harris County are outdated, dominated by costly, "grey" engineering solutions rather than more advanced, more effective and cost-efficient "green" solutions informed by the processes of nature. As a result our vital waterways are destroyed -- widened, deepened, stripped, and straightened in a misguided, backwards, and futile attempt to accommodate more and more and faster and more polluted runoff from our paved and built city. Leaving "room for the river" creates cleaner, healthier, more biologically diverse waterways and focuses attention on solutions that can actually help. Enlarging our streams is like building bigger highways -- it doesn't solve the problem. We are working to address that.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Advocacy Journalism

Geology Classes on Buffalo Bayou

Where we work

Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Number of press articles published

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

General/Unspecified

Related program

Advocacy Journalism

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context notes

These results include radio and television appearances as well as newspaper articles published about us and editorials by members of the board of Save Buffalo Bayou.

Number of donors retained

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Related program

Advocacy Journalism

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context notes

This number represents donations from foundations and individuals.

Number of undesirable activities stopped

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Related program

Advocacy Journalism

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context notes

After disastrous flooding, we fought projects that make flooding worse, stopped destructive maintenance, increased understanding of streams, meanders and vegetation, ownership, and best management.

Number of organizational partners

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Related program

Advocacy Journalism

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context notes

Our interests are aligned with the Houston Sierra Club, Katy Prairie Conservancy, Bayou City Waterkeeper, Residents Against Flooding, and others, and we help publicize their work.

Number of requests for advocate products or information, including downloads or page views of online material

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Related program

Advocacy Journalism

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context notes

More than 7,700 followers on our Facebook page, often reaching an audience of some 10,000, with an email list of over 1,000, plus hundreds of local and national media and political contacts.

Number of meetings with policymakers or candidates

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context notes

We attend public engagement meetings, speak with concerned residents and public officials, address decision-makers, make presentations at conferences and to neighborhood organizations.

Number of policymakers or candidates reached

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context notes

Our articles and reports are regularly sent to all city and county representatives as well as federal, state, and local public officials, civic leaders, and local academics.

Number of stories successfully placed in the media

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Related program

Advocacy Journalism

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context notes

In addition to these media articles, we regularly publish articles on our website that we also distribute on our Facebook page and to our email list, which includes journalists and others.

Number of press releases developed and distributed

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Related program

Advocacy Journalism

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context notes

Figures are estimates. We regularly send out press releases when we post articles and reports on our website.

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

Our founding mission was to protect one of the last forested, publicly accessible stretches of Buffalo Bayou flowing through the center of Houston. We were successful. This started us on the path of educating the public and policy makers not just about the outdated assumptions behind that project but also about our outdated flood management policies in general. We now work to bring attention to wider issues of floodplain and flood risk management in the county. We are fighting to influence current policies and practices and bring them in line with advanced thinking elsewhere in the country and around the world. We try help people understand why we are flooding and the most effective way to do something about it. We hope to prevent costly, high-maintenance flood control projects that destroy our streams and the environment and ultimately won't work.

Our strategy is primarily advocacy journalism. We investigate, research, write and publish articles on our website, in local newspapers and on our Facebook page. We have more than 7,600 followers on our Facebook page. We also send our articles and information to more than 1,000 members of the media, politicians and civic leaders. We speak on the radio and to civic groups, meet with politicians, attend conferences, and network with other organizations involved in related activities such as prairie, wetland, and forest preservation, and protection against flooding. We use our marketing and communications experience and contacts to help other organizations publicize their issues and activities also.

Our executive director, Susan Chadwick, is an accomplished writer and journalist with decades of experience. She is a native Houstonian who grew up on Buffalo Bayou and happens to know a whole lot of influential people. In addition, our advisory board includes working geologists, environmental and earth scientists, and one of the world's leading river experts.

We know we have made progress because the project we opposed, called the Memorial Park Demonstration Project, is dead. We have also succeeded in changing destructive debris removal practices on the bayou. We have helped educate countless people, including administrators and public officials, about streams and modern flood risk reduction practices. We have influenced the terms of the conversation about flooding. We will know we are making progress on the wider issues of floodplain management and drainage when the City of Houston and Harris County start focusing less on big, expensive engineering projects, less on "improving" our natural waterways, and more on nature-based and green infrastructure and detention policies. That is already happening.

We have succeeded in stopping the project we opposed, a project to strip, dredge, and reroute more than a mile of one of the last publicly-accessible, forested stretches of Buffalo Bayou in the city. We managed, through our articles and editorials, to change the conversation, create a debate, and bring new facts into the discussion. We pointed out serious conflicts of interest. We have now widened the discussion to floodplain management and policy in general, helping to clarify issues and misunderstanding about stream function and solutions to flooding for people who live and work up and down the bayou, many of whom flooded badly during Hurricane Harvey. The impulse is to blame the river, to think that nature and protection from flooding are somehow at odds. There are calls to straighten and dredge all of the bayou. Our mission now is to explain that working with nature for flood management is the best, most effective, and cheapest solution.

How We Listen

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

Source: Self-reported by organization

the feedback loop
check_box We shared information about our current feedback practices.
How is the organization collecting feedback?
We regularly collect feedback through: community meetings/town halls.
How is the organization using feedback?
We use feedback to: to strengthen relationships with the people we serve.

External Reviews

Photos

Financials

SAVE BUFFALO BAYOU

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Not Applicable

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Not Applicable

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Not Applicable

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Not Applicable

Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Gender

Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members.

Disability

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members.

Diversity Strategies

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We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
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We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
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We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
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We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
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We have a diversity committee in place
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We have a diversity manager in place
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We have a diversity plan
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We use other methods to support diversity