Paso del Norte Trail was selected as a Texan by Nature Conservation Wrangler in 2020. During each Conservation Wrangler program cycle, Texan by Nature provides up to 6 projects with 12-18 months of tailored support in the form of program management, strategic planning, marketing messaging, metrics capture and analysis, professional content production, and partnership development – whatever is needed to accelerate the project. The information below includes results from the time the project was active in the Conservation Wrangler program. It may not reflect the most current program/project information. Please visit https://www.pasodelnortetrail.org/ for the latest.
In the far reaches of West Texas along the Rio Grande lies one of the state’s most unique communities, for wildlife, plants, and people alike. El Paso, which got its name from being the “Paso del Norte” – the Northern Pass – is home to thriving mountain, river, and desert ecosystems, as well as a rich binational culture. Serving a population of 2.7 million in the region between El Paso and their sister city of Juarez, Mexico, the Paso del Norte (PDN) Trail has a vision to improve environmental, economic, and public health conditions for Texans, and their neighbors, from all walks of life.
This project is a community-driven, collaborative effort to develop a county-wide trail in El Paso County. The roughly 68–mile span of the PDN Trail is divided into ﬁve distinct districts, each broadly deﬁned by their unique geographical, historical, and cultural context, as well as various amenities and attractions. The PDN Trail provides essential connections for community members to businesses, attractions, parks, and downtown areas, including the University of Texas at El Paso, Ascarate Park, the University Medical Center, and the El Paso Zoo. Connector trails and loops provide additional access to natural areas and outdoor spaces such as Franklin Mountains State Park and the Rio Grande River.
The PDN Trail promotes conservation of natural resources and environmental restoration through the preservation and improvement of shared-use paths along economically and regionally significant irrigation canals and the iconic Rio Grande. The PDN Trail provides breathtaking views of the Franklin Mountains and showcases a variety of natural landscapes and terrain, including floodplains, deserts, rivers, mountains, and wetlands.
The Paso del Norte Trail Advisory Committee (PDNTAC) is committed to the inclusion of native, desert-adapted plants and green infrastructure to reduce hardscape design components and effectively process and utilize water on-site. Additional conservation efforts of the PDN Trail include wildlife habitat features for burrowing owls and bats as well as pollinator-friendly plant species.
Accessible trails connect people to nature, which positively affects their health and promotes a conservation mindset. The collaborative team working on the trail strives to ensure the PDN Trail is a trail for everyone, meaning it is safe and accessible to community members of all ages and abilities. Upon completion, the trail will provide greater opportunities for walking, hiking, and biking for users of all abilities to connect in the ecologically and culturally diverse border region of Texas. Trail systems also bring economic value to their communities through increased property value, economic opportunities for local businesses engaging with the trail, improved public health, and overall greater “livability” for residents.
Successful completion of this trail project requires continued community buy-in and stakeholder support. Each completed segment helps the PDN Trail build momentum as trail partners gather data and research in order to demonstrate to the community that the trail can not only enhance connectivity, support healthy lifestyle choices, and increase access to natural spaces, but can also help propel the region forward in terms of vibrant economic activity.
The goal of Paso del Norte Trail is to create a regionally signiﬁcant landmark that promotes active transportation, preserves the history and culture of the region, highlights the Rio Grande river, supports economic development and ecotourism, provides educational and volunteer opportunities, and makes healthy living the easy choice for the unique, binational community of El Paso.
The PDN trail launched in June 2017. Officials conducted background research, public outreach, and a trail alignment study from July 2017 through November 2017, completing the final report in February 2018. The Playa Drain Trail segment phase I (a 3.4-mile segment of the trail alignment) was completed in October 2018. The PDN Trail Master Plan was published in October 2018. In March of 2019, the Paso Del Norte Trail Corporation hired Creosote Collaborative consulting firm to conduct a wide array of activities related to the trail, including creating the PDNTAC. This committee meets every two months to guide the implementation of the trail. The Playa Drain Trail segment Phase II design was completed in April 2019. From April 2019 through June 2019, the PDN Trail project secured regional support from the County of El Paso, City of El Paso, El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization, City of Socorro, and more. In June 2019, another 0.7-mile segment of the trail, called the Presa Place Loop 375 Trail, was completed.
The planned on-going project initiatives include trail maintenance by the City of El Paso through an MOU with the City of El Paso Parks and Recreation Department. In addition, future events to encourage trail utilization include bike rides, educational tours, green infrastructure projects, tree plantings, wildlife habitat installation and maintenance, and community events.
In April 2018, the PDN Trail Advisory Committee was established to provide recommendations for the implementation of the Paso del Norte Trail. The PDN Trail Advisory Committee is chaired by the former TxDOT Chairman Ted Houghton and includes members from both the public and private sectors. Collaborators for this project include the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, City of El Paso, County of El Paso, El Paso County Water Improvement District #1, El Paso Water, El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization, Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority, Medical Center of the Americas, and Creosote Collaborative.
The PDN Trail is funded via multiple public and private partnerships between the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, the City of El Paso, the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization, the El Paso County Water Improvement District #1, and various community organizations and advocacy groups. While the Paso del Norte Health Foundation has provided funds for constructing some segments of the PDN Trail, they recently empowered the PDNTAC to pursue outside funding opportunities through private and public funding sources. PDNTAC has contracted Creosote Collaborative, a local urban planning and sustainability firm, to create a Strategic Implementation Plan for funding and development of a priority development area from Downtown El Paso to Ascarate Park.
Upon completion, the PDN Trail will provide safe alternative transportation opportunities and recreational access to open space, rivers, mountains, and parks to over 2.1 million people in El Paso County and Ciudad Juarez. Trail users and community members will have safe connections to schools, parks, businesses, and downtown. The landscaping along the trail will employ only native, desert-adaptive plants with the effect of conserving natural resources, like water, and will support the bio-diversity and wildlife populations in the region. Due to seasonal releases of water from Elephant Butte Dam, the Rio Grande and irrigation canals only have water for a portion of the year in El Paso. A safe, secure, and scenic trail will provide scenic views of the wetlands and connect trail users to multiple species of cranes, ducks, and other birds that pass through the region during migrations.
The PDN Trail provides indirect economic value through educational and recreational activities, such as the regular weekly rides hosted by Podium Finish, a local bike shop and café.
The trail provides direct economic value through increased property values and increased property tax revenue for municipalities. Trail development directly creates jobs associated with the planning, engineering, construction, and maintenance of the trail. The Green Infrastructure Maintenance Training workshops planned for this spring will provide competitive advantages to local landscaping businesses seeking to secure municipal contracts. Eco-tourism and bicycle tourism has the potential to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars per year via spending at hotels, restaurants, retail, and cultural attractions.
Additional economic value includes increased marketing opportunities and business for local bike shops and cafes, as demonstrated by the weekly rides hosted by Podium Finish. Trail users and community members in general see indirect economic value through improved public health benefits associated with active lifestyles and reduced automotive dependency. Over time, municipal entities will realize reduced street maintenance costs due to reduced automotive travel and effective, on-site handling of stormwater through expanded green infrastructure. Texan by Nature is working with the PDN Trail to identify and measure relevant metrics to quantify and message the potential positive economic value of the trail. These figures emphasize the trail as more than a community accessory and instead demonstrate the PDN Trail as a community necessity.
PDN Trail was selected for Texan by Nature Conservation Wrangler based on the project’s positive impact to people, prosperity, and natural resources. Through the program, Texan by Nature is working with the PDN Trail to address the following needs:
For more information visit texanbynature.org or contact us.
Texan By Nature Blog May 17, 2021
El Paso Inc. July 14, 2020
Business Wire April 1, 2020
Studies show that trail systems increase property values and induce new residential development, bringing in between $650,000 and $2 million in additional property tax revenue. (Study Link)
Additional studies indicate trail systems positively benefit local economies through:
Paso del Norte Trail partners are working to gather data to calculate the economic benefit of the trail to El Paso.
Length of the trail upon completion.
Along the trail, ecosystems services come in the form of:
Houston-Galveston region, Texas
Chenier Plain, Texas
Hill Country, TX
Baffin Bay, Texas
Matagorda Bay, Texas
San Antonio, Texas