The trail will go from Austin to San Antonio, connecting to Barton Springs, San Marcos Springs, Comal Springs, and San Antonio Springs. In some places, the trail is already built, like sections of the Violet Crown Trail. In other places, trail alignments have been planned by local communities or have alignments that are still to be determined.
This depends on many factors, but the overall goal is to have the approximately 100-mile trail system built and contiguously connected by 2036, with sections of trail along the route being built in phases. The order of phases will depend on key factors such as funding, establishing right-of-way, permitting, design, and construction.
We still have an opportunity to conserve land over the Edwards Aquifer and the life-sustaining waters that run through it. As one of the fastest growing regions in the U.S., those opportunities will become fewer and further between as residential and commercial development fills the open spaces between Austin and San Antonio. Establishing this protected green corridor will also allow for a trail system connecting people to nature, offering a vital community resource for community health, active transportation, outdoor recreation, and economic development.
Any project of this magnitude requires many sources of investment. Similar long-distance regional trail systems in other parts of the country have had success in leveraging local, state, and federal funding with private investment. These types of projects also generate high annual economic returns on investment, creating continued value for local communities. A similar approach is envisioned for Great Springs Project.
A core value of Great Springs Project is respect for land and landowners. We encourage our partner communities along the corridor to engage with willing landowners who participate in this process on a voluntary basis. We do not endorse the use of eminent domain, except for rare cases in which it is preferred by the landowner. While GSP can facilitate connections between landowners and other stakeholders, we envision most actual land-related transactions to occur between landowners, land trusts, and local community trail operators and managers.
More specific landowner concerns for this type of project can include privacy, trespassing, protection of livestock, and liability. These are all valid concerns. In other similar trail projects, these concerns have been addressed through a combination of written agreements; an understanding of recreational use statutes that help protect landowners from liability; and most importantly through careful design of the trail, trail alignment, vegetative screening, buffers, and fencing. Participating landowners should drive these types of site-level trail alignment and design decisions.
When available, we encourage you to participate in GSP public surveys, webinars, and events, and by helping us spread the word about these engagement opportunities via social media and word of mouth. There will also be opportunities in the coming months and years when voicing your support for the project with your elected officials will be welcomed and encouraged.
If you have other ideas about how you can help, or if you represent an organization, business, or landowner that is interested in becoming a project partner, please contact us at email@example.com