This award recognizes quality, well-designed multi-use trails systems that are integrated into private developments to encourage active lifestyles, reduce reliance on automobiles, connect the development to other public and private pathways and destinations, and preserve and promote natural areas.
The Woodlands, a Texas master planned community, was recognized with the 2010 American Trails Developer Award.
The awards ceremony, recognizing individuals and projects in a range of categories, was held as part of the 20th American Trails National Symposium. American Trails established the Developer Award Program in 2008 to recognize quality, well designed, multi-use trails systems that are integrated into private developments. The program is the only one of its kind in the nation.
“Increasingly enlightened developers are providing quality trails and open spaces,” said Bob Searns, Chairman of the Board of Directors for American Trails. “This helps fulfill our vision of access to trails from the doorsteps of every American home. It’s smart business and smart land stewardship. We are thrilled to acknowledge The Woodlands Development Company for its commitment to establishing such an extensive, high quality trails system for the enjoyment of the community’s residents and visitors.”
Trails are very popular within planned developments. They rank as the number one community amenity desired by prospective homebuyers, according to the National Association of Homebuilders. The Woodlands, a 28,000-acre community located north of Houston, has been one of the best-selling master-planned communities in Texas since 1990 and is currently #2 in the nation. The community’s 93,000 residents have access to 185 miles of trails that serve as a community-wide pathway system linking neighborhoods with schools, places of worship, shopping, recreational facilities, and workplaces. The development even encourages walk to school days to encourage children to lead active lifestyles.
“We are grateful to American Trails for honoring us with this prestigious award,” said Tim Welbes, President of The Woodlands Development Company. “The Woodlands was one of the first large-scale, master-planned communities to incorporate a system of hike and bike trails into the overall community design. The trails are among our residents’ favorite amenities, and help to maintain our philosophy of living green by creating a walkable environment.”
The company's brochure further describes the goals and marketing philosophy of the development:
"Is life an outright adventure? Or a casual stroll through the park? Either way, the natural beauty of The Woodlands beckons you to come outside and play. Here you’ll find more than 100 pastoral parks, hundreds of miles of lush nature trails, dog parks, jogging paths and award-winning sports venues. On the wilder side, there are BMX tracks, skateboard parks and totally cool spraygrounds. At The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center, the whole family can enjoy the spectacular Forest Oasis Waterscape, complete with a three-story slide and waterfall, diving cliffs and a tropical island.
"From the beginning, the forward-thinking minds who envisioned The Woodlands understood this– sometimes the best way to leave a positive mark is to leave no mark at all. To let nature play a defining role in the overall design. Under this philosophy, The Woodlands has blossomed to become one of the best-selling communities in the country. And the stunning natural surroundings have thrived as well. Today, more species of birds inhabit The Woodlands than when the land was a native forest. Even American bald eagles have fledged their young here. And over the years, more than three-quarters of a million tree seedlings have been given to residents at the traditional Arbor Day celebration to enrich the community’s forested beauty. No wonder so many families have chosen to take root here.
When development of The Woodlands is complete, nearly 8,000 acres of the 28,000 acres will be preserved as greenspace, in the community’s many parks, golf courses and open spaces. And adding a unique cultural counterpoint to this lush greenery is an impressive collection of outdoor art that continues to grow– just like the trees."