Texas Bicycle Coalition staff attended the 14th annual Texas Trails Network (TTN) State Trails Conference held January 23rd – 25th at The Woodlands. The cold, drizzly, three-day conference had convened with a fireside roundtable discussion on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the future of trail development in Texas.
On Thursday, attendees chose from presentations along three program tracks: Trail Design, Economics and Health/Wellness. The conference ended on Friday, January 25th with a tour of The Woodlands extensive trail network connecting homes, schools, parks and a riverwalk through the downtown area.
At Thursday’s lunch, the trail project in the area of the Attucks and Barker Reservoirs (20 miles west of downtown Houston) was outlined by Robert Rayburn of the Energy Corridor District of Harris County. The “Energy Corridor” gets its name from the major energy companies that have large office campuses in the area along Interstate 10 (Katy Freeway). They are active partners in Houston’s trail initiatives.
Two reservoir areas comprise nearly 25,000 acres, contrasted with Memorial Park’s 1500 acres. Connecting these two areas across the freeway has been the first major task of this initiative. A map of the existing and proposed trails can be seen under the “Trails and Parks” banner at www.energycorridor.org.
The Thursday dinner program, presented by Rosie Zamora of Houston Wilderness, outlined a proposed 600 miles of trails through a grand wilderness belt wrapping completely around the Houston area. Attendees, like many Houston area residents, were very surprised to learn that the Houston region is home to a higher range of diverse eco-regions than any other part of the state.
The Big Thicket, the Columbia (Brazos) Bottomlands and the Coastal Marshes are three of the 10 unique ecosystems identified in a 24 country area wrapping from Matagorda Bay to the Sabine River. All ten eco-regions can be reviewed in detail at www.houstonwilderness.org. Parents, these web pages (and the connecting trails once constructed) are a great resource for any school reports your kids may have coming up. Ms. Zamora hinted of a major public announcement coming in the next few weeks that will put their trail project squarely in the public eye.
“These initiatives are already acting as regional greenprints.” said Bud Melton, Board Member of TTN. “Throughout the region, habitats will be saved, floodwaters better controlled, and bioregions will be reconnected enabling the genetic exchange that’s critical to biological survival. All of this with a great network of trails for cycling!”
Bud thanked the conference sponsors for their very generous support and Parks and Rec Director Chris Nunes and his team at The Woodlands Development Corporation for hosting this symposia.
Congratulations to TTN Board President Jim Waldbauer, Board Members Elihu Gillespie, Joe Moore and Bud and Annie Melton, Executive Administrator John Rath and many others for another great conference. Bud is also the current Chair of the TBC Board.
The 2009 TTN conference location will be announced in the next couple months. The conference is open to professionals and interested citizens alike. The 2008 TTN conference topics and presenters can be viewed at www.texastrails.org.