|Currently, $25,000 is allocated to the trails located on the southern section of the George Mitchell Nature Preserve. In light of merging these trail systems together and to bring the trails to standard an additional yearly allocation of $20,000 (total of $45,000) is recommended. This funding would provide for routine trail maintenance, trail repairs, i.e. washouts and materials required to maintain the natural trail system. Capital expenses could amount to an additional $25,000 for wayfinding signage that would be consistent across the system and new streetlight banners near the trailhead access points.
|The George Mitchell Nature Preserve is a 1,800 acre natural area dedicated on the 33rd anniversary of the opening of The Woodlands, October 19, 2007, along with the dedication of the Village of Creekside Park. The creation of the George Mitchell Nature Preserve (GMNP) was a joint effort of The Woodlands Land Development Co., Montgomery County Precinct 3, Harris County Precinct 4, The Woodlands Association/Township and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Recreational Trails Grant Program.
GMNP is part of the greater Spring Creek Greenway. The Spring Creek Greenway project is to be a 12,000 acre nature area/linear park stretching 40 miles on both sides of Spring Creek from the San Jacinto River to Spring Creek Park in Tomball. It is the largest contiguous, forested urban greenway project in the country. Its purpose is to set aside land to permanently protect the floodways, floodplains, to connect and protect habitat along both sides of Spring Creek, creating a corridor for improving water quality and preserving important wildlife habitat, and to provide outdoor recreational opportunities for the public.
The Woodlands Land Development Company (TWLDC) owns all of the land of the Spring Creek Greenway that is within the George Mitchell Nature Preserve and The Woodlands Township, Montgomery County and the Bayou Land Conservancy have easements and/or agreements for recreation facilities (trails) within the GMNP. TWLDC developed a master plan for recreational amenities in the Preserve which primarily consists of trails.
Montgomery County Precinct 3 has indicated a willingness to assign their lease to The Woodlands Township for the management of their trail system in Montgomery County (north side). Please see Attachments A and A1 for the Montgomery County Lease with TWLDC. A draft Interlocal Agreement (ILA) was developed that transfers the County's rights to the Township (Attachment B). The agreement is contingent upon approval by the Montgomery County Commissioners Court and will also require TWLDC approval. A map of the area is provided as Attachment C.
Benefits of The Woodlands Township accepting this assignment include the following:
While The Township, would not receive funding from the County for this assignment it would receive the benefits of a Regional/Statewide attraction due to its further development as outlined. This would bring in additional people to the community to use the trails system and has the potential to host various events in the trail system, all of which would bring additional revenue through sales and hotel taxes to the community.
- Park Ranger patrols on a regular basis which will provide resident and community members visible and tangible proof that there is an entity dedicated to the operation and maintenance of the trail system.
- Maintenance staff that would be allocated, on an as needed basis, to make repairs to the trails, signage, bridges, etc. Currently, volunteer groups have the largest responsibility for these tasks on the Montgomery County side. While it is envisioned that these groups would continue to assist, having a maintenance presence in/on the trails system would be a benefit to residents. Furthermore, the trails present the opportunity for community groups such as GHORBA, Scouts and others to participate in their maintenance.
- Planning staff that would be dedicated to working with 3rd parties on a regular and routine basis to facilitate the growth and expansion of the system. This would include planning with Harris County Precinct 4 to connect existing trails and future trails to Pct. 4's master plan for an asphalt trails through the preserve, as well as grant writing, development and management of the conservation easements, etc.
- Finally, there would be a system developed to handle resident calls about the trail system. The backbone of this approach would be the Resident Care Center and the Acella work order tracking system. Currently, when calls come into the Resident Care Center they are sent directly to the County.
The lease with Montgomery County and TWLDC includes a provision which conveys the land to Montgomery County (thus The Township through assignment) on October 21, 2022. This language is similar to the lease agreement that the Township has with TWLDC for the Harris County portion of the preserve. Therefore, by 2022 a large segment of the portion of the Spring Creek Greenway in the GMNP would be conveyed to the Township.