Mission Reach Restoration
The Mission Reach Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation Project — part of the nation’s largest urban ecosystem restoration project — rehabilitated and enhanced the hydrological and ecological function of 8 miles of the San Antonio River through urban San Antonio. The resulting landscape provides stability and maintainable flood control while returning sections of the river to their natural meanders and adding amenities and recreational opportunities along the way. The river and accompanying pathway also offer cultural opportunities by connecting four historic missions.
Working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Jacobs Engineering Group, the Wildflower Center developed the native woody and herbaceous plant community composition to maximize habitat performance within the hydrological design. This 334-acre riparian woodland represents nearly 100 species of native trees, grasses and wildflowers; natives were employed due their natural suitability to the area and the fact that various attributes of the plants (for instance, strong holding on steep river banks) helped meet project goals.
Restoration of riparian habitat included improving previously deteriorated soils in order to bolster native prairie species growth. Native forb and grass seed mixes were created for specific ecosystem typologies, and native tree and shrub species “suites” were designed to ensure successful succession of the project area into a viable urban riparian corridor.
Wildflower Center environmental designers also helped develop an operation and maintenance manual to help guide the San Antonio River Authority in their efforts to sustain native growth and healthy habitat while concurrently protecting the site from invasive plant species common to urban environments. The Mission Reach is part of the greater San Antonio River Improvements Project.