Report By Lauren Poleski of the Greenbelt Alliance
Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) hosted a meeting last night for equestrian users of the Greenbelt. Chris True, Park Superintendent, spoke for about 30 minutes and then opened up the floor for comments. Dr. Ken Dickson and I attended to represent the board of the Greenbelt Alliance. There were 102 attendees who signed the registration book – more than expected. The room was full.
Mr. True explained TPWD plans to shut down the equestrian trail on the east side of the Greenbelt between 455 and 428 and collocate it with the walking/bike trail on the west side. Apparently TPWD just suffered a major budget cut and does not have the money to repair a washed out section of the existing equestrian trail. TPWD believes repair will require $162,000 or more.
In an effort to reopen the equestrian trail, but without the budget to repair the existing trail, TPWD plans to move the trail to the west side of the river because it would cost less to repair and maintain.
The equestrian community repeatedly stated that mixing horses with bikes would be a serious safety issue because horses can be scared by bicycles. One woman said, “If you do that, someone is going to get killed and the equestrian trail will be closed.’’ The equestrians agreed that their favorite part of the trail is the part to be closed. They preferred that TPWD reopen the existing trail.
The attendees seemed to develop a consensus that a collaborative solution to funding between private sources within the equestrian community, grants, TPWD, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the City of Denton is possible. In addition, many believed a committee of equestrians who attended the meeting should form and be closely involved with TPWD’s plans for the trail.
The Greenbelt is located in the center of Horse Country, USA. The equestrian business is important to our local economy, and the Greenbelt is a valuable asset to that business and a well-loved recreational opportunity for the equestrian community. We believe that equestrian use of and advocacy for the Greenbelt is important for the Greenbelt’s future.
The Greenbelt Alliance hopes to work with the equestrian community, TPWD, the City of Denton and the USACE to coordinate a safe and sustainable solution. We are grateful to TPWD for seeking a solution and for opening this issue to public input.