2020 Year-End Review

Happy New Year!

 

Thank you for your continued support of the Paso del Norte Trail. Without generous individuals, organizations, and businesses, we would not have made the tremendous progress that we have over the last year. We are excited to share our 2020 successes:

 

2020 Successes:

  • Friends of the PdN Trail

    • We developed a Friends of the PdN Trail program to encourage monthly or one-time contributions to support the development of the Paso del Norte Trail. 

    • We received a total of $78,110 in donations (27 total gifts from 10 donors). We have four individual "friends" who support the trail with a monthly donation and we have had six one-time donations.

    • One of these donations was a Legacy Donation ($77,200) from Karin and Vince Carson for amenities in the Riverpark Trail area near Vinton. We've had the amenities preliminarily approved by the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) and are coordinating with the County of El Paso for installation.

    • In 2020, we improved the trail with plantings, wildlife habitats, and bioswales thanks to over 275 hours of donated time from volunteers (worth over $7,500 in donated time).

    • We received interest from groups such as Kaboom and Sundt to partner to provide in-kind volunteer hours for upcoming projects.

  • Outreach and Partnerships

    • We partnered with the Border Coalition for Fitness, Live Active EP, and Destination El Paso to encourage community members to visit the trail and be active over Thanksgiving and New Years. In addition, we've reached out to another 14 local organizations to share information about the trail and potentially identify opportunities to partner.

    • Our social media has grown exponentially over the last year! We now have over 3,100 followers on Instagram and 1,300 likes on Facebook. One trail user commented on a post recently and said the Paso del Norte Trail has been her "lifeline" for the last two years. 

    • Core Performance Racing added the PdN Trail logo to their racing uniforms to raise awareness of the trail. There are approx. 30 racers who will be showcasing the logo!

    • We partnered with Eco El Paso and the West Texas Urban Forestry Council to host a virtual tree planting on November 7th in the Thomas Manor Neighborhood. Since November, 65 trees have been planted, which can help absorb over 800 pounds of CO2 per year in the area near the Playa Drain Trail segment. This project was made possible by a $13,900 grant from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). We will be planting more trees and installing PdN Trail wayfinding signs to this neighborhood in the spring. The goal is to increase trail awareness since these community members are approximately one mile from completed trail segments.

    • In response to requests on social media, we added an “access” tab to the website which specifically outlines how visitors can access each completed portion of the trail. This webpage also includes detailed maps and information about parking.

    • Our team briefed the new City Manager for the City of Sunland Park and the Public Works Director about the Rio Grande segment of the trail that runs through their jurisdiction. They shared their plans for reconstruction of Sunland Park Drive and we will align our efforts with theirs to improve connectivity in the area.

    • Our team briefed Commissioner Harkins and her team at the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) about the Paso del Norte Trail and recent updates. Their team was very helpful and mentioned that they would review our easement access request prior to receiving funding so our application could move quickly through the approval process once funding comes through at the state or federal level. 

    • We are coordinating with Sites Southwest and the State of NM on the New Mexico Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) and they will include the Paso del Norte Trail connections in the plan. 

    • We coordinated with the Village of Vinton to pass a resolution on February 18, 2020 to show support for the PDN Trail.  The trail runs along the entire western border of Vinton, so passing this resolution of support will help strengthen future grant applications.

    • We partnered with Celebration of our Mountains (COM) to cross-promote the trail by 1) creating a dedicated webpage on their website and 2) organize a walk along the Riverpark Trail segment of the Paso del Norte Trail in March and September 2020.

    • We are supporting the Medical Center of the Americas (MCA) and their National Park Service (NPS) partnership for technical assistance to design a PDN Trail spur connection to the MCA campus. 

    • We partnered with the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) and City of El Paso to install burrowing owl and bat habitats along the Playa Drain Trail. Educational workshops and workdays were held in Feb. 2020. 

    • We coordinated with the El Paso Marathon organizers to design a route along or near the Paso del Norte Trail main alignment for the February 2021 marathon.

    • We coordinated with representatives from the El Paso Zoo and the Zoological Society to realign the PdN Trail strategically around the zoo so trail users can experience the zoo as they ride or walk by.

    • Progress continues for the design of Phase 2 for the Playa Drain Trail (Riverside High School to Ysleta High School). The PDN Health Foundation is coordinating with the City of El Paso and TXDOT on the timeline for design completion, which is currently 95% complete.

    • We partnered with the West Texas Urban Forestry Council (WTUFC) to survey the distressed trees along the Playa Drain Trail segment and we are making a plan to replace those trees in partnership with Eco El Paso. 

    • We partnered with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) to promote a "Trail Moments" initiative to elevate trail voices around the country, and how trails have impacted the lives of Americans during COVID-19. RTC provided signs for free to organizations (in Spanish and English) to place along trails to collect the "trail moments" stories. Responses were collected in September and October 2020 and will be shared on our social media.

  • Funding

    • We're coordinating with the City of El Paso for two Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside (TASA) applications-- the Magoffin trail segment (Cotton to San Antonio) (FY2023) and the Playa Drain trail segment from Padilla to Zaragoza (FY 2024). Both were scored highly by the Transportation Project Advisory Committee (TPAC) Ad Hoc Committee. The Magoffin segment is in the Downtown to MCA segment, which was identified as a priority area by our PdN Trail Advisory Committee.

    • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funding - PdN Trail projects were approved on July 7th for small-scale and large-scale funding! The CDBG funding will allow for trail connections along a segment of the Playa Drain Trail from Yarborough to Knights.  In addition, a small section of lighting from Whittier to Prado may also be funded (this will complement a larger MPO project). 

    • Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Regional Mobility Strategy - We coordinated with the MPO to include the PdN Trail into the Regional Mobility Strategy, which opens the trail up for several federal funding opportunities.

    • Texan By Nature - Texan by Nature selected the PdN Trail as a Conservation Wrangler! This award comes with technical assistance for 18 months! We are currently coordinating with a videographer to visit El Paso in March 2021 to create a promotional video for the trail (all for free!).

    • Recreational Trails Grant - We have been coordinating with the County and Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA) to improve connections to the trail, Ascarate Park, and nearby neighborhoods. There is approx. $300,000 in grant funding for this project.

    • Walmart and Sam's Club Grants - Of the nine grants we submitted, we’ve been awarded $2,500 total from three different stores! These funds will support trail amenities.

 

Benefits of Trails (especially important given the pandemic)

 

  • A recent Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) survey shows that many people across the country are seeking out trails for stress relief during the pandemic. 

  • Forty-six percent (46%) of the respondents said that access to open spaces had reduced stress levels during the pandemic, and 66% of respondents said they were getting outside at the same level or greater than before the coronavirus.

  • Forty (40) bilingual signs were distributed across the trail to encourage trail users to share their stories. We'll share a summary of these stories on social media once we receive them from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

 

​In case you missed it (ICYMI) -- Here are the 2019 updates! 

  • Partnered with the US Green Building Council Texas Chapter to submit an El Paso Electric Community Change grant application for $5,000 for wayfinding signage and plants near Riverside Park to provide better connections in this segment.

  • Developed a summary handout about the PDN Trail to provide to partners and community members and increase awareness.

  • Passed a resolution in partnership with the City of San Elizario in support of the PDN Trail on October 22, 2019.

  • Presented about the PDN Trail to the TxDOT Bicycle Advisory Committee in Austin, Texas on October 11, 2019.

  • Finalized a branding manual for the PDN Trail so all future trail segments can follow a similar style, leading to a consistent, connected, easy-to-navigate trail.

  • Planned a successful community health event with the Border Coalition for Fitness along the PDN Trail on October 26th called “Say Boo to Cancer.” 

  • Explored opportunities with Digital El Paso representatives to expand broadband/digital access along the PDN Trail route.

  • Coordinated with the County of El Paso to incorporate the PDN Trail into the County Thoroughfare Plan and ensure connectivity throughout all trail districts.

  • Partnered with Podium Finish Sports Boutique and Café to promote weekly rides (every Wednesday at 6 pm) along the PDN Trail.

  • Cross-promoted the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Half Marathon Championships on November 23, 2019 which were hosted by EPCC along the Playa Drain Trail. Check out the video here.

  • Partnered with USGBC Texas, Eco El Paso, and High Desert Native Plants to develop a funding application for Border2020 grant funds which help address air quality issues through promotion of mode shift (Grant request: $39,950). 

  • Coordinated with the City of Sunland Park, NM Planners to develop a resolution to show support for the PDN Trail. 

  • Formed the PDN Trail Advisory Committee in April 2019. This committee convenes bi-monthly to discuss trail implementation. 

  • For more information, check out our Facebook and Instagram!

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Friends of the PdN Trail Logo

Volunteers built  bioswales along the Paso del Norte Trail.

Border Coalition for Fitness has been a wonderful trail partner!

Historic walking  tour along the Riverpark Trail segment of the PdN Trail.

Historic walking tour organized in partnership with Celebration of our Mountains (COM)

The burrowing owls love their new habitats along the Playa Drain Trail segment of the PdN Trail.

Five educational signs were installed  along the Playa Drain Trail segment thanks to funding  from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

In an effort to capture the qualitative benefits of trails, trail users were encouraged to share their "Trail Moments." One of our social media followers said the trail was her "lifeline" over  the past two years.

The Paso del Norte Trail was selected as a "Conservation Wrangler" and awarded 12-18 months of technical assistance from the Texan By Nature team.

The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Half Marathon Championships were hosted by EPCC on November 23, 2019 along the Playa Drain Trail segment of the PdN Trail.

Trail users (large and small) loved the Say Boo to Cancer event held at the PdN Trail in October 2019.