The mission of the University of Houston Coastal Center is to support environmental education, research and service on the Texas coast by providing users with access to field sites, equipment and facilities. The statewide importance of the role of the UHCC was recognized in 2017 when the Texas State Legislature officially designated UHCC as the home of the Texas Institute for Coastal Prairie Research and Education.
The UHCC is the only field station owned by the University of Houston. It provides a unique and essential facility for faculty doing environmental education, research, restoration, and service because it provides a large area of land (~925 acres) where equipment or experiments can be deployed, access to natural habitat (coastal prairie), and security for equipment and experiments deployed outside for extended periods.
By preserving a large stand of pristine coastal prairie and restoring additional acreage on site, the UHCC is also serving the nation. Coastal prairie is a highly endangered habitat (less than one tenth of one percent remains), and the prairie at the UHCC is one of the highest quality prairies in the nation. Regional conservation organizations and State and Federal agencies are aware of the conservation value of the prairie at the UHCC, and desire the long-term stability of the property.
The UHCC provides an ideal location for field courses with an outdoor component. These have included students taking UH courses in Architecture, Biology and Biochemistry, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, English, and Science Education, and from other institutions in the Houston metropolitan area. Opportunities exist for new courses in other topics. Shasta’s Prairie, a small pocket prairie on the UH campus, provides an introduction to coastal prairie plant species for classes that cannot visit the UHCC itself.
The UHCC provides a unique venue for outreach and service activities related to the environment. In particular, we are an important source of prairie plant seeds for restoration projects in the area.
Few of the activities conducted at the UHCC could be moved to other UH properties, and the natural habitat itself is irreplaceable.