Sugar Land City Council recently approved a contribution of more than $573,700 from the Cullinan Park Conservancy.
The contribution builds on $500,000 provided from the conservancy last year for the future development of Cullinan Park – 754 acres of mostly inaccessible forest and wetlands north of Sugar Land Regional Airport.
The conservancy will continue fundraising to support conservation and environmental and educational programs at the park. Funds can be raised from any source, including individuals and philanthropic foundations and institutions, and may include governmental grants. Previous donations have been made possible, in part, by The George Foundation’s commitment of $1 million and the Wortham Foundation’s award of $250,000 for park improvements.
The conservancy has committed to secure pledges and contributions of at least $5 million within five years and $10 million within 10 years of annexation of the park by the city. More than $1 million has been raised so far.
Sugar Land annexed the park last year after signing historic agreements with the conservancy, the city of Houston and the Houston Parks Board. Future development of the property has long been targeted by the community and is consistent with the conservancy’s efforts to preserve the vast natural resources of the park.
The city is now operating and maintaining the park, which includes enhanced security; trail cleanup; lawn maintenance; and new lighting systems, signage and entry gates. Future planned improvements include trails and boardwalks that allow greater access to existing lakes and wetlands areas, as well as locations for canoe and kayak launches into Oyster Creek. Site amenities such as picnic pavilions, benches and interpretive signage have also been identified. Planning and design will begin this year with construction to follow.
The land is currently owned by the city of Houston and Houston Parks Board and now located within Sugar Land’s city limits. The annexation by Sugar Land was the result of visionary leadership by members of the conservancy and elected leaders in Sugar Land and Houston.
The lands of Cullinan Park were first settled in 1828 by Alexander Hodge, a member of Stephen F. Austin’s Old 300. For more than 150 years, the property was used for raising cattle, sugar cane and other crops. In 1989, Cullinan Park was acquired by the Houston Parks Board and City of Houston and opened in 1991 as a nature preserve with improvements funded by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The Cullinan Park Conservancy was formed as a non-profit corporation in 2010, as a project of the tax-exempt Houston Parks Board. The Conservancy seeks to enhance and protect the natural beauty of Cullinan Park.
The Conservancy is focused on a number of efforts that will help enhance the park’s status as – in the words of its major donor Nina Cullinan – a “place of beauty and peacefulness in the city.” These efforts include mapping the park, surveying its vegetation and birdlife, planning for its trail and bridge renovations, arranging for park cleanups and organizing a photo contest about the park, its wildlife, landscapes and visitors.
To learn more about the park, visit http://cullinanparkconservancy.org/.