All the Ways Groups Can Connect to Nature in Texas

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Jeff Heilman

Originally a dairy farm, Phil Hardberger Park on the North Side of San Antonio has attracted outdoor enthusiasts with its swaying native grasses, woods and other flora since 2010. Wildlife on the move, however, had to contend with the six-lane Wurzbach Parkway, which runs through the 330-acre park. 

In a pioneering solution, the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy constructed the Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge to span the highway. As the nation’s largest mixed-use land crossing, the verdantly vegetated structure, opened in December 2020, uniquely provides safe passage for both wildlife and humans. 

As Teresa Shumaker, associate director of the Conservancy explained, the project has been wildly successful to date. 

“We celebrated a major milestone on our one-year anniversary last December,” she said. “Based on our ongoing trap-camera study, our park naturalists have confirmed that every mammal species found in our park has been photographed on the Land Bridge.” 

Houston recently unveiled its own dynamic land crossing project. Before, the city’s 1,500-acre Memorial Park was split by Memorial Drive. Now, two tunnels carry traffic underneath a 35-foot-tall hilly land bridge covered with prairie land, affording wildlife and people safe access above. One of several ongoing greenspace expansion projects in Houston, the new land also helps the environment by sequestering an estimated 14.2 metric tons of carbon per year. 

From botanical gardens and natural history museums to the great outdoors, group-ready connections to nature and fresh air abound across Texas. In the words of the San Antonio Express, “How can you go wrong when you bet on nature?”  

Urban Oases

San Antonio is America’s seventh-largest metro but can feel like a walk in the park with its abundantly unfolding outdoor and natural spaces. 

Featuring 16 miles of shared hike and bike trails and eight miles of paddling trails, the Mission Reach segment of San Antonio’s fabled River Walk connects to multiple city, county and national parks, some 400 acres of restored ecosystem and four of San Antonio’s five UNESCO World Heritage missions. Dating to 1919, the Japanese Tea Garden hosts dreamy events in the open-air Pavilion and by a 60-foot waterfall. Other wonderlands for tours and events include the 38-acre San Antonio Botanical Garden and San Antonio’s most popular museum, The Witte. Set amid the majestic oak trees of Brackenridge Park by the San Antonio River, this 1926 treasure captivatingly showcases South Texas history, culture and natural science, with event hosting for 1,500 guests, buyouts included. 

Source: MeetingsToday

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