Early in 2020, the City of Brownsville, the National Parks Service, and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy teamed up with regional and local partners to work on a project meant to improve the health of residents in the Rio Grande Valley.
In an effort to give Texans more opportunities to get outside and get active, the partnership is working to complete the Caracara Trails Vision: a plan to develop a 428-mile trail network around Brownsville and its neighboring towns and cities throughout Cameron County.
The Brownsville Battlefield Trail extension was the first step in jumpstarting the trail project, providing residents and potential tourists with more fun and healthy things to do in Brownsville. Let’s learn about why this trail was developed, how it was funded, and what’s coming next to the Caracara Trails Vision.
Improving Health Outcomes for Cameron County
The development of new trails in Brownsville brings with it several different benefits for residents. First, the development of the trail network is expected to increase physical activity by 22% in Cameron County. Physical activity is essential to a healthy lifestyle and helps reduce individuals’ risk of serious health issues significantly.
“As we break ground on the Battlefield Trail Extension, we’re marking a turning point for the health, wellness and economic potential of our region,” Rose M.Z. Gowen, M.D., Brownsville city commissioner and a board member of RTC told reporters.
Giving Brownsville a Boost
While seeking better health outcomes for Brownsville residents and other Texans is reason enough to invest in a project like the trail and its extension, there are actually other indirect benefits that residents will see, as well. The increase in physical activity is expected to result in savings of as much as $12.3 million in health care costs for Cameron County.
The improvement in health, health spending, and living conditions in Brownsville is also expected to contribute to a surge in investments in the area.
“The Caracara Trails vision is already bringing new investment to Cameron County in the form of federal and private grants… Our trail network vision and all that it can deliver for the health and economic growth of our region is being realized with each investment, each mile of trail built and each person who gets out for a walk, a run or a ride.”
Exciting Upcoming Things to do in Brownsville
The Battlefield Trail extension was merely the first step in the Caracara Trails Vision for Brownsville. Moving forward, work is expected to be completed on a 2.5-mile trail project connecting Brownsville to Los Fresnos, as well as a 1.1-mile Los Fresnos Hike and Bike Trail.
Outside of the Brownsville area, projects include the South Texas Eco-Tourism Center and the Arturo Galvan Coastal Park. Ultimately, the Caracara Trails are meant to connect the entire Lower Rio Grande Valley and will include 230 miles of multi-use trails, 120 miles of biking trails, and 78 miles of paddling trails.