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The City of Brownsville has received a $151,274 grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife to turn a former railway right of way into a hike-and-bike trail. The trail will be called the Belden Trail, after Samuel Belden, a co-founder of the City of Brownsville.
The rail line was built over the former Belden Street. “While researching who owned the right-of-way for the trail for the TP&W grant, we came across a map showing the original street name, and found out that the 100-year lease had just expired, thereby reverting ownership back to the city of Brownsville,” Rachel Flores, executive director of the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, said, as quoted in The Brownsville Herald on June 19, 2012.
Eventually, Brownsville hopes to have a hike-and-bike network covering the entire city, along former rail lines and also along the city’s beautiful resacas – oxbow lakes formed when the Rio Grande was part of a vast delta as it approached the Gulf of Mexico.
For now, the trail will be a landmark for West Brownsville, which doesn’t have access the current hike-and-bike trails according to City Commissioner Rose Gowen. “There’s not a lot of extra land in that part of town to dedicate for a trail such as this, so this is going to be a huge benefit for the people of West Brownsville,” said Gowen, as quoted in The Brownsville Herald. “In the future it will not just be an improvement for West Brownsville, but a very important connector to get someone from one part of the city to the other,” Gowen added.
This was the city’s second attempt to secure funding for the Belden Trail. A non-monetary technical assistance grant from the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program helped provide the guidance to make sure this grant application was successful.
The city is also working on another trail project with the National Park Service to connect the current hike-and-bike trail to three historic battlefields in Brownsville.