BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The UTHealth School of Public Health in Brownsville received a $20,000 grant from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to improve access to nature trails and programming in the lower Rio Grande Valley.

The CaraCara trails project manager, Adrienne Wheatley, said the trails are 428 miles long and are important to Brownsville and Cameron County.

“Our initiatives are to continue to grow and strengthen the CaraCara trail coalition, increase community awareness, encourage and promote healthy lifestyles,” said Wheatley.

She said the grant will directly benefit the residents in communities and connect them to the CaraCara trails.

UTHealth School of Public Health’s program, ¡Tu Salud Si Cuenta!, plans to expand programming with the funding, according to the school’s regional dean, Dr. Belinda Reininger.

“We can bring some of our existing long-term commitment to physical activity in this whole region but now we can bring it and partner on the caracara trail,” said Dr. Reininger.

She explained the trails are available for walking and biking and there are plans for additional outdoor activities.

“Everybody is so excited about the programming from star gazing to the kayaking to yoga in an open nature space,” she said.

Dr. Reininger said outdoor activities are great for physical health and can also have great benefits to mental health and other conditions.

City of Brownsville commissioner Nurith Galonsky said the programs are free to the public and service areas in need of parks and recreational activities.

“This will be good for a lot of families who live on this side of Southmost and who actually live within walking distance,” said Galonsky.

She said the trails and programming will also benefit the area and attract more people to the Brownsville area.

“We’d like to invite people from the upper valley and other cities in the RGV so they can come and get to know Brownsville and in particular Southmost,” said Galonsky.

For more information on Caracara Trails and its development, you can visit their website.