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Urban Land Institute releases recommendations for Trail Foundation/PARD partnership

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December 20, 2019

AUSTIN— The Urban Land Institute has released its final recommendations to The Trail Foundation and Austin Parks and Recreation Department on the proposed expanded partnership and transfer of operation of the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake to The Trail Foundation.

ULI is a global, multidisciplinary real estate organization with more than 46,000 members dedicated to responsible land use and building thriving communities. The report can be seen in its entirety here.

In partnership with PARD, TTF applied and was selected in a competitive process to be part of the ULI’s Advisory Services Program. A panel of land use and urban development experts convened in Austin last August to interview key community leaders and stakeholders and learn about all aspects of the proposed expanded partnership.

The panelists recommended:
• Formalizing the public/private partnership between the City and TTF, to allow each entity to build on the strengths of the other;
• Launching initiatives to fully fund the implementation of a strategic plan based on a shared vision;
• Involving, engaging, and reaching out to the community to build support and trust; and
• Planning for future growth and an expansion of the Butler Trail through improvements and connections

“We are very grateful for this expert input as we continue to investigate the extended partnership with the City,” says Heidi Anderson, CEO of The Trail Foundation. “The timing of this report is perfect for TTF as we prepare to become a true conservancy and officially take over more of the operations and maintenance of the Trail from our good friends at PARD. This year alone TTF has invested more than $2.5 million of our privately-raised funds into the Trail, with six major projects underway, and doubling of our ecological work, including planting 8,000 plants and trees. 2020 will be another year of exponential growth for us as we increase the pace and breadth of our work to meet the needs of the Trail as its popularity and usage continue to grow along with Austin,” Anderson says.

The ULI panel was chaired by Julie Underdahl, urban district development and management consultant with Underdahl Strategies in Denver. “The growing use of the trail and the corresponding need to fund increased trail improvements and maintenance made creating a stronger partnership a necessity,” Underdahl says. “Based upon the four guiding principles of trust, equity, collaboration, and stewardship, the agreement will provide a road map for what needs to be done to protect, preserve, and enhance the trail as a shared and cherished community asset, while serving as a model for other conservancies in Austin and elsewhere.”

In recent years, the Foundation has doubled its amount of ecological restoration work on the Trail. In 2018, TTF invested more than $2.5 million into the Butler Trail, and in its 16-year history has invested more than $11,300,000 into the Trail. TTF is currently working on three major projects, with 15 more in the queue, and is committed to increasing the pace and breadth of its work to meet the needs of the Trail as its popularity and usage continue to grow along with Austin.


Read the Full Report: ULI-ASP_Final Report_AustinTX_2019 (1)




About The Trail Foundation
The Trail Foundation’s mission is to protect, enhance, and connect the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake for the benefit of all. The Butler Trail is the 10-mile lush, urban path in the heart of Austin that gets more than 4.4 million visits every year. Since it was founded in 2003, The Trail Foundation has achieved restoration and beautification projects to the Trail’s infrastructure and environment, while honoring the original vision of the Trail’s founders and ensuring its vibrancy for generations to come. For more information, please visit


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