Since the beginning, Texans have been preserving natural areas in our urban centers. For example, Texas’ first public urban park, San Pedro Springs Park in San Antonio, was officially established in 1852 and is the 2nd oldest public park in the United States!
Research has increasingly highlighted the need to bring nature into cities for community and ecosystem health. Green infrastructure, like rain gardens, parks, and urban forests, can help achieve this goal. These natural features increase flooding resilience, improve air quality, mitigate urban heat islands, and enhance community health!
Support for green infrastructure and urban parks in Texas is continuing to grow. The Texas A&M Forest Service just received $21.75 million to expand and conserve forests in Texas’ urban areas. Texan by Nature has also highlighted growing green infrastructure efforts from communities and corporations like the Westbury Community Garden and Bluestem Park at Alliance Town Center through our Texan by Nature Certification Program. Check out five of our Conservation Partners committed to developing urban parks and implementing green infrastructure in Texas!
Houston Parks Board, Houston
Since 1976, the Houston Parks Board has supported the creation of over 14,000 acres of parks and trails in Houston. Their current Bayou Greenways initiative is connecting 150 miles of trails that will bring 1.5 million Houstonians within 1.5 miles of the Bayou Greenways. Over 40% of the land maintained within the Bayou Greenways system is prairies, wetlands, and forests, and all are critical for providing ecological benefits and wildlife habitat.
Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy, San Antonio
The Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy supports a 330-acre sustainable natural urban park in San Antonio. The Conservancy’s conservation efforts have incorporated many green infrastructure techniques including bioswales, wetland restoration, and native landscaping into the park. In 2020, they opened the Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge, which provides a secure crossing between the two sides of the park for humans and animals. Ultimately, they plan to leave 75% of the park in its natural state!
The Rio Grande International Study Center preserves and protects the watershed and environment of the Rio Grande-Rio Bravo. They are a key partner in the Binational River Conservation Project, which will develop 1,000 acres of park and 6.2 miles of greenway in a collaboration between Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. The park’s design uses green infrastructure to improve habitats for native plants and animals, mitigate flooding, and improve water quality.
The Trail Conservancy, Austin
The Trail Conservancy protects and enhances the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail along the Colorado River in downtown Austin. The 10-mile trail and 300 acres of park receive upwards of four million visits per year! The Trail Conservancy supports ecological restoration through its multiple rain gardens, wetland restoration, and riparian management. Through one initiative, the Trail Conservancy even uses goats for an eco-friendly method of noxious and invasive plant removal on the trail.
Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, Fort Worth
The Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge helps preserve and protect the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. The Nature Center is one of the largest city-owned nature centers in the United States, covering over 3,650 acres! Since 1973, the Nature Center has also maintained a bison herd, which provides ecological and educational benefits to visitors each year. The Friends own the herd and provide veterinary care for the bison and other wildlife ambassadors. In addition, the Friends support the Nature Center through major capital improvements, including a viewing deck to see the bison herd and other wildlife from a tree-top level. In 2024, the Friends will celebrate 50 years of preserving the refuge!
Our vision is for every business and every Texan to participate in conservation and for Texas to be a model of collaborative conservation for the world. We uplift our network of 140+ Conservation Partners like those above through providing free, exclusive resources on marketing, program management, fundraising, and more! When our Conservation Partners are empowered to amplify their impact and expand their reach, that’s one step closer to reaching our goal to engage every Texan in conservation.
If you’re a conservation organization and would like to join our network, get involved here.