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Trail Foundation and PARD poised to formalize long partnership

Friday, August 20, 2021 by Amy Smith

The Trail Foundation has been a steady partner of the Parks and Recreation Department since the nonprofit’s 2003 formation, growing out of a community-led effort to enhance the beauty of what is now known as Lady Bird Lake.

Now the foundation and PARD are in the final stages of formalizing their long relationship with a partnership agreement, part of a directive from City Council last year to create formal agreements with eligible nonprofits dedicated to improving parks and trails.

In this case, the Trail Foundation’s mission is focused on improving and maintaining the increasingly popular Butler Hike and Bike Trail along Lady Bird Lake. PARD’s Christine Chute Canul and foundation CEO Heidi Anderson appeared before the Environmental Commission Wednesday to present the steps involved in securing an agreement that has been in discussion since 2018.

Some of the city’s requirements for formalizing partnerships with nonprofits include at least a seven-year history of collaborating with PARD and the city on projects, and at least a five-year track record of philanthropic fundraising for specific projects, operational items, maintenance, and programming.

Anderson, who took the organization’s helm in 2017, listed a range of projects her group has partnered with the city on, including the Boardwalk on the lake’s south shore, which marked the completion of a 10-mile loop trail that runs between Pleasant Valley Road to the east and MoPac Expressway to the west.

Additionally, the foundation organizes volunteer impact events, which since 2017, have resulted in the planting of 15,687 saplings and nearly 60 acres of wildflowers. This year, the foundation’s volunteer efforts have included trash cleanups along the trail and the installation of 71 screech owl nest boxes.

All told, the foundation has invested more than $17.5 million in trail projects since its formation and in 2019 alone, invested more than $3.3 million in the Butler trail.

The plan goes to the Parks and Recreation Board on Aug. 24, then advances to City Council Sept. 30 for the OK to execute a final agreement.

Photo by Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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