Seeing Houston From 20 Feet Below Street Level
by: Capella Tucker, April 27, 2009 2:04:58 am
Briar Bend Park is hidden in this neighborhood off of Westheimer...and hidden at the back is Buffalo Bayou. Allen Craig is a board member on the Bayou Preservation Association. He stands at a wooden kiosk which marks a launching point for the new paddling trail on Buffalo Bayou.
"And there's nothing concrete about it, it's just a very natural path to the water with a flat area. We try to find an eddy area where you can put the boat in without going into the current immediately. Shall we go down the trail?"
(sound: trail and water)
"When you get down on the bayou, you are 20 feet below street level and so most of the city sounds disappear above you and so you have a tremendous natural experience."
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is opening more than a half dozen new paddling trails this summer. Nature Trails Coordinator Shelly Plante says paddling trails have put-in and take-out locations that are spaced 4 to 12 miles apart. This makes it convenient for families who may consider a half-day or one day boating trip.
"Many of our rivers you can put in at a public access site, at a bridge crossing and there may not be a public take out point for 30 or 40 miles down river and that's just dangerous. You would be on the river all day and all night you wouldn't know when you can get off. You have private land issues, you are not supposed to get off where there is private land owner, you need to wait for a public access site."
Safety is still a concern. Always wear life jackets and let others know where you plan to be and when.
Plante recommends boaters walk down to the bayou where they plan to take out ...that way they know what to look for at the end of the trip.
Craig with the Preservation Association hopes more families will consider boating on Houston's natural resource.
"If we can get people on the bayou they are going to be more conscience of the bayou and again we'll have a better opportunity to keep trash out of the bayou to improve our water quality and use it as a recreational facility."
The Buffalo Bayou paddling trail will be formally dedicated tomorrow. It'll have the designation as the longest paddling trail in the state at 26 miles long. For more information about paddling trails in Houston and Texas, log on to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Paddling Trails.
Capella Tucker, KUHF-Houston Public Radio news.