The Cibolo Nature Center & Farm was awarded a $10,000 grant from specialty outdoor retailer REI for recreational trail improvements to increase public access to wild, open places in Texas, executive director Carolyn Chipman Evans said Thursday.
“We are honored to have the support of the country’s largest consumer co-op, which each year invests in outdoor recreational places around the country that inspire all of us who love the outdoors,” Chipman Evans said. “We are inspired by REI’s generosity to create a model trails system that will ensure a vibrant, safe and open place for this and future generations of Texans.”
The grant will fund the training, equipment costs and work of volunteers to maintain and increase access to the Boerne nature center’s three-mile trail system. The goal is also to begin work to connect and expand trails from the nature center that opened in 1988 to the center’s historic Herff Farm purchased in 2007.
The nonprofit Texas Hill Country’s nature center’s trails lead to a unique combination of a rare tall grass prairie, spring-fed marshland, a live oak savannah and wooded creek lands. The 1850s Herff Farm, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is home to a restored two-story homestead, barn, a demonstration garden, marked trails and outdoor classroom spaces.
Access to the nature center’s trails is free from dawn to dusk each day, with Herff Farm trails open Saturdays during the weekly farmers market. Thousands of people visit the 160-acre nature center each year, including more than 14,000 children served by the center’s education programs.
“We are currently expanding the farm to include rainwater harvesting demonstration projects and sustainable-living initiatives through teaching gardens and more environmental education programming for children and adults,” Chipman Evans said.
“This REI grant will allow us to be ready to accommodate increasing numbers of visitors, hiking enthusiasts and learners of all ages in coming years,” she said.
For more information about the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm’s marked trails, land stewardship and education programs, visit www.cibolo.org. For more information about REI and its support of America’s natural places, visit www.REI.com.