By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
The reopening of the upper Panther Hollow trail in River Place was celebrated on Saturday with a ribbon cutting and hike. Some 50 people attended.
River Place resident Steve Snodell was the first to run the trail after the ribbon was cut.
“We’re looking forward to this. We helped get it reopened,” said Dylan Drummond. He and his daughters Madison, 9, and Kennedy, 6, took their dog for a hike at the event.
“This is my top favorite trail in or near Austin. I’m excited it is open again,” said Alex Horn, who used to walk the trail before it was closed nearly two years ago. Saturday she bought four year old Siberian Husky mix, Whiskey, from the Austin Humane Society for a hike on the trail.
Christie Griffith, resident of River Place for 13 years and active on the HOA for several, is glad the trail is reopened.
“I think it’s about time for this to be over,” Griffith said.
Jim Casey, RP MUD president, credits the reopening to the legal work done by Alan Glen and the consistent commitment to re-open and maintain the trail by the MUD Board, its consultants and the Friends of the River Place Trail.
In Feb. 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated “the (River Place Nature) trail was constructed without the City of Austin’s consent and encroaches on preserved lands within the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve.”
In Sept. 2013, Glen, noted environmental attorney with Sedgwick Law, on behalf of the River Place MUD informed the US Army Corps of Engineers and US Fish and Wildlife Service of their Notice of Intent to Sue both agencies because the claims were unfounded.
Now the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has vacated any action against the MUD and has left the MUD to work with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the City of Austin/Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Preserve decision makers, Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, Casey said.
Mayor Leffingwell and Commissioner Daugherty are the only two voting members of the BCCP.
“We look forward to many years of the people of Central Texas enjoying hikes, bird watching and communing with nature while on the trail,” Casey said.
The River Place MUD is looking forward to making this an even more attractive trail system with the re-connection of the upper and lower trail segments.
“Only the City of Austin permitting process stands in the way of doing this right now,” Casey said.