New nature project could bring 100-mile hiking trail connecting San Antonio and Austin

Written by: Mary Claire Patton
Read the article on KSAT

SAN ANTONIO – The Great Springs Project is hoping to bring a 100-mile hiking trail that will connect four major springs between Austin and San Antonio.

Referred to as a “green corridor” the proposed project would connect Barton Springs, San Marcos Springs, Comal Springs, and San Antonio Springs.

“People see parks and greenway projects as important parts of a community. When you ask people what they want in their community, having access to the outdoors is always one of the top two or three things,” Project CEO Garry Merritt told KVUE in Austin.

Merritt said that the hiking trail has an estimated completion date of 2036, but there is a lot to accomplish before ground can be broken.

A press release from the U.S. Department of the Interior states that the Great Springs Project was selected to receive support from the National Park Service which will help pair the project with professional landscape architects and community planners.

“The goal of Great Springs Project is to add an additional 50,000 acres of protected lands over the Edwards Aquifer recharge and contributing zones between the dense urban areas of Austin and San Antonio, while linking this green corridor via a network of multi-use trails,” according to a National Park Service spokesperson.

But who will pay for this and where will the land come from?

A recent article from the Austin Chronicle notes that a conservation easement, where private landowners get tax cuts in return for ceding their right to develop on the land, would be the big ticket to helping get the project going legally.