Lawmakers Push To Make Buffalo Bayou, Ship Channel Heritage Areas

Buffalo Bayou could become a National Heritage Area. But they don't come with some of the land-use restrictions that are often part of historical sites. U.S. representative Gene Green announced today that he, along with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, are introducing a bill that would designate buffalo bayou as the first National Heritage site in Texas. David Pitman explains what that means for the bayou, and the port.
The legislation calls for the bayou and the ship channel to receive as much as a million dollars in federal funds every year for ten years.

The money would help make the 25-mile waterway that connects to Galveston Bay more of a tourist attraction.

Democratic representative Gene Green says a key part of the National Heritage designation is to help people understand the history of the bayou and the port.

"How did we get the largest international port in the country here at the Port of Houston? Let's look back on that — y'know, almost a hundred years ago. That's how it happened. How did we develop the largest petro-chemical complex in the country, second largest in the world, here at the Port of Houston?"

Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia's precinct includes significant parts of the bayou and ship channel. She says if the National Heritage bill becomes law, she'd like to see more money go toward cleanup efforts.

"It's amazing some of the things that are picked up, so, everyone is working on trying to clean it, and maintain it, and then work on the history part."

Should Buffalo Bayou receive the National Heritage designation, a special non-profit board would decide how to spend the federal dollars, which would be used as matching funds to local money.

For more information about National Heritage Areas, visit

Bio photo of David Pitman

David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...