Last year, the city of Brownsville, the National Parks Service, and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy teamed up with regional and local partners to make the Caracara Trails Vision–a plan to implement a 428-mile trail network throughout Cameron County–a reality.
However, there is much more than public health that benefits from building a trail in Brownsville. Economic and transportation advantages and even the impact on community pride and identity are just some of the few other benefits that Brownsville only has to gain. Let’s take a closer look at all of these benefits down below.
1. It Brings Positive Health Impacts
Caracara Trails is intended to create a unified region that promotes and encourages a healthy lifestyle. In short, if residents live within a certain distance of a trail, they are more likely to be active.
Brownsville has been ranked fairly high in diabetes and other chronic diseases, giving the city commissioner, Dr. Rose Gowen, the urge to focus on the health of her community.
Creating a large network of trails would do much more than make our city healthier–it also has economic and transportation benefits.
2. It Presents Economic Advantages
The term “active tourism” has been practiced throughout the United States and is a concept to gain billions of dollars in tourism every year. Therefore, building a trail in our city would potentially bring in revenue through active tourism.
Each trail network has to be equitable, giving as many locals as possible access so everyone could get onto the trail to use it. Building a trail would provide an economic return and give us the opportunity to save up to six million dollars in health savings.
Aside from the economic benefits, investing in a trail also:
- Resolves economic development issues.
- Results in more shops and restaurants along the trail.
- Attracts more tourists, which brings in more revenue to local businesses.
- Creates great memories for community members.
In addition to ensuring a safe place for people to enjoy recreational activities, trails often function as useful transportation passageways. Trails can be a critical element to a full-scale urban or regional multi-modal transportation system. Many parts of the country incorporate trails and similar facilities into their transit plans, depending on trail facilities to transport people in and out of transit stations safely and efficiently.
Giving residents the option to avoid congested streets and highways, and travel through natural areas on foot or by non-motorized methods, is a significant factor in a community’s “livability.”
4. Community Identity
Many community leaders have seen the way trails have become sources of community identity and pride. The renewed sense of community in our city can bring in a new sense of pride for us Brownsvillians.
Ultimately, this project wouldn’t just help the people of Brownsville, but all of Cameron County in many ways–from income due to tourism to easy access for locals to use the trails for working out.
Outside of Brownsville, there are other projects including the South Texas Eco-Tourism Center and the Arturo Galvan Coastal Park that may offer the same benefits to those living in the area.