The San Antonio River Improvements Project (SARIP) has been restoring and enhancing 13 miles of the San Antonio River north and south of downtown. One of the latest stretches to open is the Mission Reach, an 8-mile long section that runs south from Lonestar Boulevard to Loop 410 South.
A grand opening on October 5, 2013 unveiled the $245.7 million Mission Reach project to the public. The day-long celebration saw the opening of 15 miles of walking, running, and cycling paths, as well as a paddling trail. Festivities included music, food, and a fishing clinic.
The Mission Reach project achieved a number of restoration goals, restoring the river’s natural ecosystem and reconnecting the river to the missions that used its water hundreds of years ago.
While archeologists believe that humans lived near the river as long as 10,000 years ago, recent settlers relied on it too. When the first Spanish explorers arrived in the late 1600’s, they gave the river its name and built Colonial missions near the river. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the river was channelized away from its course near the missions. The Mission Reach project restored the river’s historic course. In addition to reviving the historic connection between the missions and the river, replicating the river’s original flow reduces erosion and re-introduces native vegetation and wildlife.
Mission Portals along the new reach connect Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan and Mission Espada to the San Antonio River. At each portal, art installations tell the story of the missions and their influence on the area.
While it will take years for restored trees and vegetation to fill in the new Mission Reach area, the project also included a restoration of riparian woodland and aquatic habitats.