Nature park gets grant: Valley Baptist foundation donates $500K

In this Oct. 24, 2022, file photo, Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. and Precinct 2 Cameron County Commissioner Joey Lopez unveil Olmito Nature Park landscape master plan atlas during an dedication ceremony of a 39-acre tract of land located adjacent to Lake Olmito Resaca, which will include nature trails, fishing piers and a kayak launching area among many other proposed park amenities. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

The Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation has awarded $500,000 to Cameron County to help develop the 40-acre Olmito Nature Park, located west of I-69E and south of Hayes Road.

The county announced the donation on Feb. 15. A dedication ceremony for the park, which will feature 3,240 linear feet of resaca frontage, was held on Oct. 24. The land was donated in 2019 by Frank Michael McKinney and Jane E. McKinney.

The VBLF grant will be used for phase one of the project, which includes restrooms, nature trails, fishing piers, a canoe/kayak launch, bird-watching overlooks and wildlife viewing areas, an educational pavilion, “nature scape” playgrounds, native landscaping and interpretive signage.

Phase one also will include wildlife-friendly lighting, open green space, comfort stations, picnic shelters, benches, drinking fountains, butterfly gardens and other amenities.

So far for the park project the county has secured $750,000 from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Outdoor Recreation Grant Program, a $52,500 Boating Access Planning Grant for the canoe/kayak launch, and $250,000 from the Trails Grant Program.

County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. expressed gratitude to the foundation for helping develop “this first and grand phase of the Olmito Nature Park,” and hinted more funding may be on the way.

“We look forward to phase initiation and completions very soon,” he said. “Another grant commitment for this great amenity is in the works.”

County Parks and Recreation Director Joe Vega and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Joey Lopez likewise thanked VBLF for helping develop what Lopez said will be “a beautiful 40-acre nature park showcasing the natural habitat.”

Judy Quisenberry, VBLF executive director, said the foundation has invested in a number of parks and trails over the last decade with the aim of providing free community access to green space where people can enjoy a variety of options for physical activity.

“We are excited about the plans for Olmito Park and look forward to celebrating the completion of phase one,” she said.