Texans may soon be able to hike the more than 100 miles between Austin and San Antonio while surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the nation.
Known as The Great Springs Project, the network of trails proposed by a new nonprofit group aims to be "a national park-scale corridor of protected lands between the densely urban areas of Austin and San Antonio over the Edwards Aquifer recharge and contributing zones," the project's website explains.
According to local news station KXAN, the trail will link together four of Texas' Great Springs: Barton Springs, San Marcos Springs, Comal Springs, and San Antonio Springs. But, beyond being a gorgeous place for Texans to get outside, the group also hopes that the project can unify local efforts to protect the Edwards Aquifer, which not only provides recreational activities but also provides drinking water to many communities along the way.
"You'll be able to hike or bike basically from the Alamo to the Capitol," Deborah Morin, co-founder and board president of the Great Springs Project, shared with KXAN. "80% of Texans (live) within a three-hour drive of this area. So instead of thinking about driving eight hours to Big Bend, you could come here and immerse yourself in nature."
According to Morin, she and her friends have been thinking about the project for more than two decades and are finally finishing their plans to complete the work by 2036, which also happens to mark Texas' bicentennial.
"We're on a short timeline because our region is one of the fastest-growing in the Country. The time to act and conserve this land is now," Emma Lindrose-Siegel, Chief Development Officer of the Great Springs Project, additionally shared with Southern Living.
The team behind the project is now working fast and furiously alongside local design firms and the National Park Service to plan the route, secure permits, and figure out just how to pay for everything.
"It's expensive. The land in a fast urbanizing area cost a lot of money," Morin told KXAN."Raising the type of money it takes to pull this off I think is the biggest challenge."
And that's not all. The team also has to think about how the trail will be maintained once it's operational. Still, all the work is well worth it to the team.
The goal of Great Springs Project is to add an additional 50,000 acres of protected lands over the Edwards Aquifer," a joint press release from the National Park Service and the Great Springs Project read. "When completed, the project will result in the protection of natural resources for both aquatic and non-aquatic endangered species, water quality protection for the over two million people in the corridor who rely on the Edwards Aquifer for their drinking water, an economic development catalyst for the cities and counties along the proposed trail routes, and access to nature and health benefits for the projected population of nine million people living in and between Austin and San Antonio."
Learn more about the project, how to volunteer or donate here.
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