Guided by the 2015 Memorial Park Master Plan, Eastern Glades is the first major project to be implemented in Houston’s wildnerness park, reclaiming 100 acres of previously inaccessible land. Eastern Glades significantly expands passive and recreational opportunities in the park responding to a growing demand by Houston’s families wishing to enjoy the area. The new design also adds additional parking and restrooms; extends the Seymour Lieberman Trail to a full 3-mile loop; establishes a 5-acre lake and wetlands; provides picnicking, trails, boardwalks and opportunities to learn about natural habitat systems.
Ecological restoration and infrastructural work was critical to opening this previously inaccessible part of the park. The ecological restoration portion of the project will be phased over multiple years involving removal of invasive species and reforestation with native plantings to establish a healthy forest structure. Hines Lake, a major feature of the Eastern Glades, is a new basin for the reclamation and reuse of storm water as well as a hub of habitat for native species. Rainwater is filtered from the parking lot through swales and rain gardens as it flows to the lake; wetlands and aquatic plants further purify the stormwater which is used for irrigation. Native trees such as Pinus echinata and native plants like Pontederia cordata and Sagittaria lancifolia were planted to restore the forest’s ecosystem and wetlands' plant diversity. The resulting wetlands are a favorite of white egrets, great blue herons, redtail hawks and gold crested night herons. The Eastern Glades project aims to enhance the area’s ecology while providing plenty of acreage for strolling along boardwalks, joining cultural events and catching the sunset over Hines Lake.