Welcome to The Trail Conservancy’s State of the Trail 2023 recap! As we enter our ‘roaring twenties,’ below is a glimpse of our 2023 journey and look ahead into 2024.
This year we celebrated two decades of dedication to the Ann & Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail and tackled many exciting projects, including revitalizing natural landscapes, enriching the Trail with cultural vibrancy, and unleashing a heard of progress with 150 ecological-friendly goats.
TTC Celebrates our 20th Anniversary. We have come a long way since setting out a tip jar under the Mopac Bridge! Since founding in 2003, we have invested over $24M in the Trail and adjacent parkland with capital projects, ecological restoration, programming, operations, and maintenance.
In 2023, TTC piloted new and innovative projects. From welcoming 150 goats to the Trail for ten weeks to help clear over 15.4 acres to installing the first solar-powered, chilled water drinking fountain at the Butler Exercise Area, we used our first full year under the Park Operations and Maintenance Agreement to test out new ways to improve the Trail experience.
More programs and events for the community. We ramped up our programming and events on the Trail this year, bringing event opportunities to the community to join us. We hosted our first Earth Day Jubilee in April, emphasizing eco-friendly activities. We partnered with the Violet Crown Cycling Club to expand children’s programming with Kids on Bikes in Parks. We host ghouls and goblins with Trail or Treat. We had our largest Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita Run in June.
Together, we make the Trail look amazing. We have also been hard at work revitalizing and protecting the Trail. This year, we managed 3,802 volunteers on the Trail through 72 volunteer events, resulting in over 8,000 hours of work. Those volunteers helped us plant 7,635 new plants and saplings, pick up over 18K lbs of trash, and spread 485 cubic yards of mulch! This work equates to almost $225K in labor for the Trail. That is incredible community support!
We celebrated the arts! This year, we introduced our Arts + Culture Plan for the Butler Trail, lifting a 10-year moratorium on art along the Trail.
TEMPO on the Trail. In 2024, we will host eight temporary art pieces in various locations along the Trail as part of the Art in Public Places TEMPO project.
Comprehensive Signage. Our Comprehensive Signage Plan is expected to wrap up in early summer 2024. This plan will outline a more streamlined approach to signage along the 10-mile Trail to help improve connections, call out restrooms, and replace lost mile markers.
Improved Infrastructure. The new Rainey Street Trailhead is expected to open in late Spring, featuring a new seating area, a large neighborhood lawn, native restoration planting, and a floating dock – connecting downtown’s growing entertainment and residential district to the Butler Trail and Lady Bird Lake. We have several new projects in the Holly Area, implementing elements from PARD’s Holly Shores/Edward Rendon Sr. Park Vision for the area around the decommissioned Holly Power Plant. Projects will include a fishing pier, native restoration, a new trailhead, enhancements to the Lakefront Trail, and a new play area. Another exciting opportunity for the Trail will be with the pending Boardwalk Central project between 1st Street and Congress Avenue. This project will address significant safety issues due to a failing shoreline.
Expanded Operations and Programming. We will be doubling our commitment and investments to enhance natural areas through invasive species management and restoration around the park. We will do this work through our volunteer program, contractors, local workforce development programs… and everyone’s favorite… goats! We will also ramp up our events and programming, giving the community more reasons to join us on the Trail!