Urban Ecosystem Restoration Occurs with San Antonio’s River Walk Expansion

San Antonia's River Walk restoration projectSan Antonia's River Walk is one of the most-visited sites in Texas.

San Antonia's River Walk restoration project

San Antonia’s River Walk is one of the most-visited sites in Texas.

Built in the 1930s, the original River Walk winds through historic downtown San Antonio, connecting restaurants, shops, theaters and historic sites. It is one of the most-visited sites in Texas and one of the most-recognized attractions in the U.S. The completed Mission Reach, a southern section of the San Antonio River, revives an 8-mile stretch of the San Antonio River. In the 1950s, after years of devastating floods, the Mission Reach was engineered into a trapezoidal storm-water channel by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. Though it worked well for flood control, the change left this area devoid of native plant life and with a diminished aquatic habitat.

The current restoration will bring back the river’s natural environments and aquatic habitat, as well as add more than 23,000 new trees and hundreds of acres of native grasses and wildflowers. Features also will include hiking, biking, canoeing and kayaking to reconnect people with the river.

By cultivating this drainage channel back into a functioning part of the San Antonio River, San Antonio is becoming a world leader in urban ecosystem restoration. Representatives of cities from Canada, China, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, South Korea and Taiwan have visited the Mission Reach in the spirit of recapturing aspects of the project for their own communities.

With a total investment of $358.3 million, the San Antonio River Improvements Project provides potential for further economic development. Improving the function and landscape of this traditionally economically challenged section of San Antonio will hopefully inspire further development and improve the quality of life for surrounding residents. It also provides another offering for San Antonio’s highly successful tourism industry; the restoration links four 18th century missions, the largest collection of Spanish colonial architecture in North America.

For more information about San Antonio’s natural sites, go to visitsanantonio.com.

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