River Road Restoration

In an effort to restore and sustain the native life in this section of the river, Bexar County, the City of San Antonio, the River Authority, and the US Corps of Engineers (USACE) are conducting the River Road Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study in order to identify potential projects, as well as scientifically evaluate these projects for their impact and cost-effectiveness. This feasibility study will bring together experts from various state and federal natural resource agencies in order to collect field data on the current condition of the area and apply habitat models to predict the future conditions of each project scenario.  This is a critical step towards the potential funding of the design and construction of a restoration project. This study is being conducted under a USACE program that can potentially provide future funding for ecosystem restoration strategies such as bank stabilization, invasive species removal, park amenities, and reconfiguration of vehicular and pedestrian access.  As a local sponsor, the River Authority is facilitating the public input process to develop the ecosystem restoration plan and implement a potential future project.

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River Road Restoration Project
The San Antonio River from Mulberry Ave to the tunnel inlet is experiencing erosion. Due to the lack of a natural, functioning water flow there is insufficient diversity of aquatic habitat. Erosion and a lack of natural stream flow has resulted in a loss of habitat on and along the river, including the loss of trees and other vegetation.

What Does the San Antonio River Near River Road Look Like?

The San Antonio River from Mulberry Ave to the tunnel inlet is experiencing erosion. Due to the lack of a natural, functioning water flow, there is insufficient diversity of aquatic habitat. Erosion and a lack of natural stream flow has resulted in a loss of habitat on and along the river, including the loss of trees and other vegetation.

A functioning San Antonio River is able to convey its water and sediment in a safe manner. A river corridor should contain diverse native vegetation which helps to stabilize the river banks,  improve water quality, and provides habitat to native species.

What Should a Natural, Functioning San Antonio River Look Like?

A functioning San Antonio River is able to convey its water and sediment in a safe manner. A river corridor should contain diverse native vegetation which helps to stabilize the river banks, improve water quality, and provides habitat to native species.

Stream restoration projects are designed to address the specific challenges the river is experiencing given its setting in the watershed and the unique characteristics of the river. Experts such as ecologists, aquatic biologists, and stream geomorphologists work together to holistically address the structural stability and ecological function of the river ecosystem. Techniques such as re-establishment of native vegetation, natural channel design, and addressing stressors on the river are used to address ero

What Does a Stream Restoration Project Look Like?

Stream restoration projects are designed to address the specific challenges the river is experiencing given its setting in the watershed and the unique characteristics of the river. Experts such as ecologists, aquatic biologists, and stream geomorphologists work together to holistically address the structural stability and ecological function of the river ecosystem. Techniques such as re-establishment of native vegetation, natural channel design, and addressing stressors on the river are used to address erosion and re-establish aquatic and vegetative habitat.

This project  is evaluating the feasibility of a stream restoration project on the Upper San Antonio River. Such a project will emphasize the improvement of aquatic habitat and the riparian corridor. By ensuring a functioning stream with pools and riffles, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and other aquatic species will be able to utilize the San Antonio River to grow and reproduce. This will create habitat for a more stable and diverse population of native species. Also, by designing a riparian system which prot

How Will a Stream Restoration Project Improve Habitat for Fish and Birds?

This project is evaluating the feasibility of a stream restoration project on the Upper San Antonio River. Such a project will emphasize the improvement of aquatic habitat and the riparian corridor. By ensuring a functioning stream with pools and riffles, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and other aquatic species will be able to utilize the San Antonio River to grow and reproduce. This will create a habitat for a more stable and diverse population of native species. Also, by designing a riparian system that protects the stream, the bird habitat will be enhanced and protected. This will assist the long term sustainability of these critical habitat areas.

After construction, non-native vegetation will be replaced with native trees, shrubs, forbs, grasses, and ground covers. Different techniques will have been used to fix erosion spots and re-establish the aquatic and vegetative habitat.

What Do We Expect the San Antonio River to Look Like After Construction?

After construction, non-native vegetation will be replaced with native trees, shrubs, forbs, grasses, and ground covers. Different techniques will have been used to fix erosion spots and re-establish the aquatic and vegetative habitat.

With care, the river ecosystem will continue to grow and evolve, thereby improving the safety and sustainability of the San Antonio River.  Riparian vegetation will become taller and more dense thus further protecting the river banks and enhancing riverine habitat.

What Can a Restoration Project Look Like Soon After Construction?

With care, the river ecosystem will continue to grow and evolve, thereby improving the safety and sustainability of the San Antonio River.  Riparian vegetation will become taller and denser, further protecting the river banks and enhancing riverine habitat.

Upcoming Meetings

River Road Public Scoping Meeting 

Mid-Spring 2020

River Road FAQs

How will a possible closure of River Road and the opening of Allison affect traffic and access to the River Road neighborhood?

The opening of Allison Drive and closure of River Road would provide more access during flooding events. River Road is located within the floodplain and has been known to go underwater. Rerouting River Road to a previously closed Allison Drive would provide an additional outlet during flooding.

What invasives are there and how will they be removed?

Invasive vegetative species within the study area include giant cane (Arundo donax), Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon), chinaberry tree (Melia azedarach), Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense), elephant ear (Colocasia spp.), bastard cabbage (Rapistrum spp.), and lantana (Lantana camara).

An integrated pest management method would be utilized to remove invasive vegetative species. Hand-removal is possible with elephant ear and possibly with Chinese privet, depending on species/growth-form/coverage. Giant cane would require herbicide because the species can sprout back from below-ground biomass and make problems much worse.

Will the low water crossings be removed?

The feasibility study is currently evaluating the options of leaving low water crossings in place, modifying low water crossings, or replacing the low water crossings. The selection of these alternatives will depend on the cost and benefit analysis conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

How will the removal of the low water crossings affect the depth and flow of the river?

If the options to modify or replace the low water crossing low water crossings are selected, the river would begin to develop the form and function of a natural river system, as ecologically as possible within an urban area. The current over-large pool in the river would change to allow for a series of pools and riffles to provide aquatic habitat and natural river function. A Hydrology and Hydraulics analysis will be performed by the San Antonio River Authority during the design phase of the project to detail specific stream morphology.

Will there still be pedestrian access to the river?

Ensuring the continued access at the Woodlawn low water crossing has been a priority in this study. If the low water crossing at Woodlawn were to be removed, the crossing would be replaced with a pedestrian bridge. If the low water crossing were to be modified, the modification would still allow pedestrian access.

What recreational amenities are being proposed for the project?

Fishing piers, birding spots, a walking trail, and designated parking are the current amenities being proposed. However, the team is open to suggestions from the public if there is any interest in other types of recreation features.

What partners have been included in the development of this project?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has specifically contacted the American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions, The Comanche Nation, the City of San Antonio Archaeologist, The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, The Apache Tribe of Oklahoma, the Texas Historical Commission, The Tonkawa Tribe of Oklahoma, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency in the development of this project.

Will there be adequate parking for those who wish to access the trail?

Parking can be provided if a trail is built for this project. A designated parking location has not been determined for this project.

How will this project affect birding?

The overall goal of the project is to improve the ecological systems, including improvement of bird habitat, within the study area.

During construction, birding would be negatively impacted by heavy machinery and noise. However, birding would be positively impacted by the project over the long-term. The project can implement methods that will increase vegetative diversity by removing invasive species and planting native species. Diversity along the river in the understory, mid-story, and overstory will increase the diversity of wildlife that inhabit or rest in the study area.

How will this project benefit the area?

Each alternative evaluated will have its own benefits. The Draft document which is due to be released in 2020 will describe each alternative’s benefits and costs in detail. Generally, all the alternatives currently being studied aim to improve habitat, increase plant and animal diversity, and reduce erosion along the river. Invasive species removal and native species plantings will increase the buffer between the river, River Road, and either Avenue A or the golf course. This buffer will help dilute pollution entering the river and reduce erosion impacts through roots. Modification or removal of the low water crossings will also positively impact fish species by allowing fish passage downstream. These modifications or removals of low water crossings within the river can help reduce the amount of erosion occurring in this reach of the San Antonio River by maintaining natural function of the river. Excessive pooling within this section of the river is a factor that has contributed to the severe erosion occurring along River Road and Avenue A. Instream structures have the capability of protecting the river bank while also providing shelter and foraging habitat for fish and other aquatic wildlife.