Skip to main content

New trail to bring back safe public access to Horseshoe Marsh Bird Sanctuary

We're excited to start construction of a new trail at Horseshoe Marsh Bird Sanctuary on the Bolivar Peninsula, bringing back safe access to the sanctuary. This project is one of the first to be developed specifically for the Bolivar Peninsula Nature Trail, a locally supported nature-based tourism initiative.

Horseshoe Marsh is Houston Audubon’s second largest sanctuary at 650 acres. This complex of salt marsh, coastal prairie, and a large tidal lagoon provides critical habitat for a range of bird species from the striking Roseate Spoonbill to the secretive Black Rail.

Historically, public access has been largely restricted to a short trail with street parking on the East end of the property, which was destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008. Since then, visitors have been limited to views from the adjacent public roadways, posing dangers to pedestrians from passing vehicles. In 2017, after acquiring a 17-acre lot adjacent to the sanctuary, our staff began working on a new trail to allow public access to Horseshoe Marsh.

Houston Audubon partnered with Texas Conservation Corps of American Youthworks to apply for a Recreational Trails Grant managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and was awarded $63,000 for the construction of a non-motorized, one mile trail into the core of the sanctuary.

The new trail will include:
     - on-site parking at the trailhead
     - planting of a half-acre woodlot
     - five acres of prairie restoration
     - approximately 700 feet of boardwalk
     - two overlooks
     - interpretive signage
     - a hard crushed rock surface on the first quarter mile for enhanced accessibility
We plan to start work on the trail in Fall 2020 with full completion by Spring 2023. Portions of the trail will likely open sooner as sections are completed.

About the Bolivar Peninsula Nature Trail
Several stakeholder groups including businesses, school districts, a chamber of commerce, and environmental groups worked with the National Park Services Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program to develop resilient nature-based economic activities that would benefit the local communities in a way that would preserve the important coastal wetlands and prairies. The Bolivar Peninsula Nature Trail will be a constellation of nature engagement opportunities. Learn more.

Please stay tuned for volunteer opportunities to help with trail construction and habitat restoration!

By Pete Deichmann, Coastal Sanctuaries Manager, Houston Audubon

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Creating a Pocket Prairie in an Urban Backyard

In September of 2017, my girlfriend Amanda and I, along with our dog Scout, moved out of our apartment and into a house in Houston’s Sunset Heights. One of the selling points of this house was that it had a small backyard the three of us could enjoy together. It was a simple space comprised of zoysia grass, Japanese yew, and bamboo.

In June of 2018, Scout was sniffing around our backyard and decided to eat a couple of Japanese yew berries that had fallen on the ground. This led to her getting sick and spending the next two nights recovering at a veterinary clinic. This is the event that made me start to question everything growing in our backyard. Why did we have grass, shrubs, and bamboo from Asia? Why had we never seen a butterfly in our yard?

We decided we needed to make some changes. To begin my research, I read The Houston Atlas of Biodiversity by Houston Wilderness, Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy, and Native Texas Plants by Sally Wasowski and Andy Wasowski. After rea…

Critical habitat is closer than you think - Rice University students create a Habitat Conservation Plan to support wildlife in our city

Across the world, species are rapidly disappearing before our eyes. This is a biodiversity crisis. Urbanization has caused habitat degradation, loss, and fragmentation, which contribute to the decrease in global biodiversity. At Rice University, fifteen students signed up for Dr. Cassidy Johnson’s Conservation Biology Lab in hopes of making changes on their campus and in their city to protect and enhance the local biodiversity. These students are creating and communicating their desires to implement a Habitat Conservation Plan at Rice University in order to contribute to urban conservation efforts right here in Houston. Their project tackles specific biodiversity concerns including critical habitat, bird conservation, pollinator gardens, medicinal gardens, carbon sequestration, and wetland restoration.

The following piece is written by students in the Conservation Biology Lab who are taking part in developing that plan. This is the first post in a series.
----- When people walk through…

Houston, we have an announcement. We’re now a Bird City!

We know that Houston is a vital city for birds, but now it’s official. Houston Audubon’s Conservation Team worked tirelessly in partnership with Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) Natural Resources Program to submit the application, and it paid off. Houston was honored as one of the first four cities to receive the Bird City Texas certification – an inaugural program by Audubon Texas and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).
So, what exactly does being a Bird City mean? The big picture is that we have demonstrated that our community cares about birds, habitat, and conservation. The growing popularity of planting native plants, restoring prairies, bird-friendly education programs, and the Houston Lights Out for Birds program to reduce collisions for migrating birds were among the many efforts and programs that got us this designation. (Go Houstonians!)
I personally witnessed the large amount of work that went into this application and was curious about what it entail…