THE BULLET TRAIN ISSUE
Thank you to those that attended the meetings earlier this week regarding the proposed Dallas to Houston High Speed Rail project. If you did not have a chance to attend the meeting, you may still submit comments online here or by email to DallasHoustonHSR@urs.com. Comments must be received before March 9, 2018. Please comment today, and encourage others to comment as well.
Please find below sample comments that address the proposed route and its impact to the Katy Prairie Preserve. You may use the suggestions below, and add or edit to present your individual comments.
I am submitting multiple comments on several issues regarding the proposed high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas, in particular with regard to potential adverse impacts to the Katy Prairie Preserve that has been protected by the Katy Prairie Conservancy:
The proposed route would pass close to the Katy Prairie Preserve, within half a mile of the northern boundary of the Katy Prairie Conservancy’s protected preserve properties, including the area where Warren Lake and the Matt Cook Wildlife Viewing Platform are located. The Wildlife Viewing Platform at Warren Lake is open to the public seven days a week, and is valued by birders and other visitors enjoying the natural setting and serenity of the lake, prairie, and wildlife. The project would have the following adverse impacts:
Comment #1: Disturbance to Public Visitors to the Katy Prairie Preserve. Visitors to the Katy Prairie Preserve’s Warren Lake and the Katy Prairie Conservancy’s Matt Cook Wildlife Viewing Platform would be disturbed by the noise, vibration and visibility of an elevated train. The disturbance of wildlife at Warren Lake not only affects the birds and other animals that frequent the area, but also is a loss to the visitors that come to observe them from the public viewing platform.
Comment #2: Wildlife Disturbance on the Katy Prairie Preserve. Warren Lake teems with wildlife year-round, and many waterfowl gather at the north shore, which is the area closest to the proposed route. The Katy Prairie is in the Central Flyway, and the over 20,000 acres that the Katy Prairie Conservancy has protected have been designated a Global Important Bird Area by National Audubon. The proposed rail route is directly in the path of a birds’ northern and northeastern flyway approach to the lake. Many birds of the prairie are sensitive to light, sound and vibration and may be driven away. In addition to the proposed rail location, there is a maintenance facility proposed to be located just northeast of the Katy Preserve property. This facility, which is planned to occupy a footprint of approximately 120 acres and will be operated at night, will likely produce light pollution which can affect bird migration routes.
Comment #3: Soundscape on the Katy Prairie Preserve. The proposed route would pass within half a mile of the northern boundary of the Katy Prairie Conservancy’s protected preserve properties, including the area where Warren Lake and the Matt Cook Wildlife Viewing Platform are located. A train thundering by every 30 minutes would be an intrusion on the natural setting, and would seriously diminish this community asset for both people and wildlife. The Wildlife Viewing Platform at Warren Lake is open to the public seven days a week, and is valued by birders and other visitors enjoying the natural setting of the lake, prairie and wildlife. It is a serene place where one can hear the calls of native birds and insects. The soundscape is a very important feature that Katy Prairie Conservancy is trying to preserve. Quiet places are few and far between these days, and keeping the Katy Prairie Preserve’s soundscape quiet should have high importance when considering the project's impacts.
Comment #4: Land fragmentation along route. Many of the properties through which the bullet train is planned are large acre tracts. Land fragmentation impacts not only the landowners, but also the many plants and animals that live on the prairie and other lands in rural areas. Smaller degraded fragments do not support the diverse wildlife communities that flourish on larger undeveloped and undivided areas. Connections between habitat patches are extremely important to maintaining healthy populations, and the high-speed train corridor will disrupt those connections.
Comment #5: Destruction of habitat along route. Many of the lands through which the high-speed railway will be constructed, on the prairie and throughout the rural counties, provide extraordinary habitat, which will be both destroyed and greatly altered. Rural lands are often seen as the path of least resistance because there are fewer landowners to object and fewer structures, when in fact we as humans are charged with protecting nature. Nature once lost is lost forever.
(Name and Address)
Thank you for helping to protect the prairie!
Texas Central High-Speed Railway, a private Texas Company, is working to bring high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston. The train can travel up to 205 miles and hour and will be capable of bringing people from Houston to Dallas in 90 minutes. In October 2014 KPC staff attended public scoping meetings where the proposers of the high-speed rail line discussed the project and invited public comment. We learned that nine possible routes had been considered, but only two were selected for further study. One of the routes proposed for further study appears to be a little over one-half mile east of KPC's Warren Ranch, a 6,500-acre working cattle ranch. KPC is investigating how the bullet train will impact our conservation lands but we are already concerned about noise (the train will run every 30 minutes from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.) and access issues as the train may bisect working farms and ranches. In addition at least 100 miles of the 240-mile route will be elevated. People who live in 11 counties (Harris, Waller, Montgomery, Dallas, Ellis, Freestone, Grimes, Leon, Limestone, Madison, and Navarro Counties) may be impacted.