The Violet Crown Trail is a planned regional trail system the originates in central Austin and travels 30 miles into the surrounding countryside. The trail ranges from a challenging sustainable natural surface trail to an improved surface multi-use trail that is connects neighborhoods and destinations. Trail construction employs innovative techniques and crafted trail amenities. The trail is a public / private effort in construction but will be solely maintained and managed by the non-profit Hill Country Conservancy.
The Violet Crown Trail story will cover trail construction, securing private easements, working with neighborhoods, and a variety of city departments to create a community-based trail system. Following the presentation, a discussion will be held to evaluate the experience and lessons learned.
George Cofer is the founder and Executive Director of the non-profit Hill Country Conservancy. He has been working in land conservation and public access for over 30 years. George’s community contributions have been recognized with many awards, including Conservation Leadership (Nature Conservancy) and Volunteer Leader(Austin Parks and Recreation Department). He is the Chair of the Violet Crown Trail Stewardship Council. He has a BA from the University of Texas. Mr. Cofer leads the Hill Country Conservancy, an accredited conservation organization which preserves iconic landscapes valuable for central Texas water sustainability. He has been key in setting aside the 1000 acre Barton Creek Wilderness Park as well as 30,000 plus acres of the city of Austin’s Water Quality Protection Lands. George envisioned and led the master planning effort for the Violet Crown Trail which gives the public first time access to historic landscapes. George is an Eagle Scout and enjoys hiking, camping and kayaking local waterways. He surfs along Texas beaches. Enjoying live music is a favorite pastime.
Butch Smith was the senior Park Planner for the City of Austin for 23 years. Previously he served 6 years as an environmental specialist for the Bureau of Management in Colorado. His current occupation is Hill Country Conservancy’s project manager for the Violet Crown Trail. Butch has a BS in Landscape Design and Construction from Mississippi State University, and a Masters Degree in Park and Natural Resource Planning from Texas Tech University. Butch is an Eagle Scout and enjoys camping, hiking, canoeing and attending live music festivals. Mr. Smith completed over $100 million of projects involving parkland acquisition, park and trail planning, grant writing and master planning. Key projects include the Barton Creek Wilderness Park, the Walnut Creek Trail system, 3 major parks and the Board Walk along Lady Bird lake.The current progress of the Violet Crown Trail has been been designed and constructed under his leadership and direction.