South San Antonio Embraces Sustainable Growth

Hundreds of eager individuals gathered at Mission Marquee Plaza in San Antonio to partake in the Texas Arbor Day Celebration. Although the event was scheduled to commence at 9 a.m., it became apparent that the festivities had already begun much earlier. Patsy Inglet, a volunteer from the Bexar Audubon Society, arrived at six o’clock in the morning and noticed that people had already formed a line, equipped with chairs and breakfast. Inglet expressed her delight at witnessing such strong support for the preservation of nature in south San Antonio, stating, “The Audubon Society is all about birds and birds need habitat.”

Meredith Tilley, who assisted with the distribution of trees, commended the south side of the city for its enthusiasm and participation, proclaiming it to be an ideal location for events like the celebration. Tilley revealed that over 800 trees were provided to enhance the urban canopy, as the local trees had been greatly affected by drought, ice storms, and disease. She emphasized the urgency to aid nature’s recovery, particularly due to the detrimental impact of extreme urban heat island and climate change on trees. Tilley highlighted the convenience of the Día del Árbol event, which not only offered the opportunity to acquire a tree but also provided access to expert arborists and tree care professionals.

One of the attendees, Katelin Darrow, expressed her astonishment at the turnout, stating that the event surpassed her previous experiences at Earth Day. Darrow, who left the celebration with a crepe myrtle and some native grasses, emphasized the importance of growing native plants, which are more likely to thrive in the area. She remarked, “I want a beautiful yard of plants that are natural to here and they’re going to survive.”

In addition to the engaging activities available for people of all ages, several local nonprofits dedicated to nature conservation offered a diverse range of programs. Jaci Randel, the Executive Director of the Bexar Branches Alliance, described their organization as a data-driven urban forestry nonprofit with a mission to expand and preserve the tree canopy throughout Bexar County. Randel expressed her delight in celebrating trees with the community and highlighted the numerous benefits they provide, such as mitigating heat island effect, improving air quality, and purifying water. She found great joy in witnessing hundreds of trees being distributed throughout the area, emphasizing the positive impact they have on mental and physical well-being.

Representatives from Arboretum San Antonio attended the event to educate the attendees about their plans to transform the old Republic Golf Club grounds into a world-class sanctuary for Texas trees. CEO Tom Corser conveyed his excitement about the immense potential of the nearly 200-acre site. He emphasized that the arboretum would enhance the city, complementing other landmarks such as Brooks, A&M, and Mitchell Lake. Corser regarded a greener south San Antonio as a gift for future generations, explaining how trees have the ability to share stories for hundreds of years, symbolizing the connection between heritage and the future.

South San Antonio is also home to various projects, both new and old, that provide a refuge from the demands of urban life. The San Antonio River Authority recently hosted its first-ever volunteer work day at a 300-acre park located south of Loop 410 off Blue Wing Road. Furthermore, the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center, renowned among birders worldwide, offers an opportunity to observe birds year-round. Another notable addition is the newly developed reach of the Howard W Peak trail system at Southeast Military Drive, which follows the course of Salado Creek and connects to the beloved trail at Southside Lions Park on Pecan Valley. Additionally, a neighborhood connection is currently under construction, set to reach Emory Oak Drive, effectively linking hundreds of homes and thousands of people to the wonders of nature. Moreover, Padre County Park houses a food forest where volunteers grow food for both humans and animals.

To further engage the community, a Tree Trail Trek event will take place at the Padre County Park on Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. The event, which is free of charge, presents an opportunity for individuals to explore the site and acquire further information, accessible through their official Facebook page.

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