Thursday, May 20, 2010

Phil Hardberger Park Celebrates its Grand Opening

Phil Hardberger Park is the largest public park San Antonio has opened since 1899 when George Brackenridge began donating land that eventually became a park bearing his name.  The 311-acre former Voelcker homestead between Shavano Park and Castle Hills was acquired by the city at a cost of nearly $47 million in 2006 and 2007.

The initial Phase 1A of the park development plan involves 1.5 miles of nature trails, picnic tables, parking space, drinking fountains, barbecue pits, a playscape, vehicular access off Blanco Road and a public dog park that is now the city's largest.  10 percent of the park land has been developed thus far. According to master plans, 75 percent of the land's total acreage will remain untouched by park development.

Preserving much of the land on the former Voelcker dairy farm has been vital.  Most of the land was originally a savanna, grassland marked by trees and small woodland features, primarily live oaks.  The parks and recreation department, with help from volunteers, last year started restoring the savanna by planting 50,000 native grass and wildflower plants. 

Park staff members have spread seeds of more than 60 species of native prairie plants meant to help support a wide range of insects, reptiles, mammals and birds.  Park officials have said they will consider future artificial structures such as bat or bird houses to attract additional wildlife species. 

Hardberger Park is located where the Edwards Plateau Savanna, Blackland Prairie and South Texas Plains converge, further supplementing the park's potential of detailed study and preservation of local plants, trees and wildlife. 

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