Sprint Aids Urban Reforestation of Five Houston Parks

Five underserved Houston city parks will receive 525 tree plantings this fall thanks to a unique sustainability agreement made possible by Sprint Waste Service’s partnership with land preservation nonprofit Texas Coastal Exchange (TCX). In an agreement announced last week between TCX and the Houston Parks & Recreation Department (HPARD), the Parks Department will plant and maintain trees with a Sprint-funded grant from TCX, which in turn will award nature-based carbon dioxide removal and storage credits back to Sprint Waste.

The carbon credits will benefit Sprint Waste, which in June 2020 made a donation to TCX to create the nature-based carbon dioxide removal and storage credits. TCX will pay for the trees to be planted and maintained by the Houston Parks & Recreation Department, with 20% of the trees being set aside as a buffer to offset tree loss over the term of the project. In this way HPARD is reimbursed for planting trees, while Sprint Waste receives carbon credits to apply against its carbon footprint. 

The agreement is believed to be the first of its kind in the Houston region and a small first step in developing creative concepts to address the international problem of climate change, according to TCX.

Joe Swinbank, co-owner and partner at Sprint Waste, said collaborative programs that leverage the value of nature-based solutions are smart models for the future as business and industry consider ways to address emissions-reduction and other climate change challenges. “Carbon capture and storage solutions can play a leading role in helping companies across the Gulf Coast address their environmental, safety and governance (ESG) and sustainability goals. We consider this parks proposal one of the more interesting ways of removing and storing carbon into the future.”

TCX President Jim Blackburn explained, “From the TCX perspective, we are working to find new and creative ways to create nature-based carbon credits supported by individuals and companies such as Sprint Waste,” he said. “It is easy to imagine a future where we all support and benefit from reforestation and grassland restoration throughout the Houston region, Texas and the United States. Planting trees and restoring ecological systems will be part of the economy of the future as we unite to reverse the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.” 

In announcing the agreement, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said, “This project is a great example of how we are simultaneously advancing the City’s climate action and resilience goals outlined in the Houston Climate Action Plan and in Resilient Houston. The private sector investing in nature-based solutions helps our city in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, while at the same time restoring, protecting and enhancing our urban greenspaces, and improving the quality of life of Houstonians.” 

The parks to receive tree plantings include Gragg, King Estates, Schnur, Beverly Hills and Glenshire. The 525 trees will be a mix of native species (red maple, sugarberry, sweet gum, loblolly pine, laurel oak and live oak) with an expected lifespan of more than 50 years. 

The trees will generate a total of 1,250 tons of carbon dioxide removal and storage over the 25-year term of the deal, according to TCX, which developed the methodology for establishing the value of the carbon storage of trees planted from U.S. Department of Agriculture-published data.

Kenneth Allen, director, Houston Parks & Recreation Department, said, “This agreement with TCX is a win for the Houston Parks & Recreation Department. We have the ability to improve and diversify our native forests while also providing carbon credits to companies interested in voluntarily offsetting emissions.” 

According to Kelli Ondracek, natural resources manager, Houston Parks & Recreation Department, “These trees will be planted in various parks identified based on reforestation need and where the chance of disturbance or destruction is minimal. We are excited about this partnership opportunity and will continue to work throughout the city on reforestation efforts that will help to mitigate the impacts of climate change.” 

“Our climate problem is immense, yet the solutions are many,” added Blackburn. “It is really nice when a climate solution also turns out to help provide better parks for the citizens of Houston, particularly in Hispanic and African American communities that are often underserved. We were able to achieve that goal with this project.” 

Sprint Waste President and CEO Dave Nelson agreed. “We’re so pleased this agreement will beautify these Houston parks and provide long-term ecosystems benefits for these underserved neighborhoods,” he said. “As we all learn more about the many advantages of nature-based carbon solutions, and how everyone involved can win by working together, we hope more companies will join us in participating in carbon-credit programs like this one.” 

For more information about how companies can learn more about carbon credit programs, click here.