Much of Houston’s natural beauty can be found along the many bayous which meander across the city. Flanked by trees and wildflowers and home to a range of wildlife, the bayous draw city residents seeking both outdoor adventures and a scenic escape.
With a 2012 voter-approved bond and catalyst funding by the Kinder Foundation, Bayou Greenways 2020, an ambitious effort underway by the Houston Parks Board to create a linked series of greenspaces, parkland and trails along the bayous, has leapt forward.
As trails and enhancements are implemented, neighborhoods along the bayous enjoy increased connectivity, a wealth of recreational opportunities and picturesque views just beyond their door. Idylwood, located along Brays Bayou Greenway, is just one neighborhood benefiting from the BG2020 plan.
“Our neighborhood is out enjoying the bayou scenery,” said Amy Dinn, Idylwood resident. “There are more opportunities for recreation and social activities – bike riding, fishing, dog walking, canoeing. Everyone loves the trails – it attracts buyers to our neighborhood. The Houston Parks Board de-litters regularly, which helps keep the bayou looking clean and beautiful.”
Birdwatching becomes an almost automatic activity with herons, cormorants, ducks and various songbirds in the trees, along the banks and bobbing in the waters of the bayou. Alligators are possible as well. A sighting of Idylwood’s resident gator, Gus, is cause for excitement in that neighborhood.
“There have been several sightings of him – usually in the springtime,” said Dinn. “He’s huge!”
From their network of trails along Bray’s Bayou, residents in this neighborhood can access several other nearby parks as well as the local farmers market and even the METRO Green Line.
Once Bayou Greenways 2020 is complete, it is estimated that six out of ten Houstonians will live within a mile and half of a bayou park or trail.
“I appreciate this vision for our community and the city as a whole,” said Dinn. “It may take time to get the whole project done, but the investment in our neighborhoods and infrastructure is important.”
“Snapshot” of BG2020 progress:
- Houston Parks Board is creating and improving linear parks along 9 Houston bayous.
- Almost 15 miles of Bayou Greenways have been completed and 65 miles are in planning, design and construction.
- Some 223 acres have been acquired and protected as parkland in perpetuity.
Photo credit: F. Carter Smith