Building a Vision for a County-Wide Trail through Health Advocacy in the Paso del Norte Region (El Paso, Texas)

Building a Vision

The session will highlight a unique partnership between the region’s health foundation and traditional public entities to promote strategic regional trail planning and project implementation. The session will present a summary overview of the mission of the Paso del Norte Health Foundation (PdNHF). The trail initiative grew out of PdNHF’s Healthy Eating Active Living Priority Area and created a new vision for what is now established as the Paso Del Norte Trail. Session will highlight elements of visioning and the master planning effort that created the Paso del Norte Trail including the planning process, outreach, key elements of planning document, role of an advisory entity to maintain continuity of trail planning effort, and PdNHF funding of a trail project. Session will also highlight details of a catalytic trail project led and funded by PdNHF for the design and construction of a 3.4 mile segment of urban trail along a drainage easement owned and managed by the local water utility. Highlights will include collaboration efforts with local entities to support the project, brief overview of the historically underserved neighborhoods served by the trail, urban connectivity / recreational opportunities provided by the trail and social impact of the trail. Session will highlight PDNHF’s collaboration with researchers to establish baseline data as well as intercept surveys to better understand the health habits and needs of Playa Drain trail user community. Lastly the session will highlight lessons learned from both the master planning process and the catalytic trail project.

Jana RennerJana Renner is a Program Officer at the Paso del Norte Health Foundation where she manages the Healthy Eating Active Living initiative. She works with community partners to improve nutrition and expand opportunities for residents to be physically active. She recently oversaw the construction of the Playa Drain Trail, a 3.4 mile trail from Ascarate Park to Riverside Park. In April 2019, Jana was selected as a 2019 Walking Fellow in the America Walks Walking College. Ms. Renner completed a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Trinity University and a Master of Public Administration from The University of Texas at El Paso. Jana enjoys reading, home improvement projects, and walking.

Jorge Castillo has been involved urban and regional planning along the U.S. – Mexico border for over 20 years. Practical professional experience includes transportation/transit planning, community development strategic planning, environmental outreach (Texas-Mexico), international economic development, social equity initiatives and affordable housing.

Mr. Castillo currently serves as the Open Space, Trails and Parks Coordinator, Parks and Recreation Department,City of El Paso. Castillo is active in urban and regional trail planning initiatives and collaborates with a wide range of trail partners in the El Paso area. Key partners include the Borderland Mountain Bike Association, Franklin Mountains State Park, Frontera Land Alliance, International Boundary and Water Commission, the El Paso County Water Improvement District and the Paso Del Norte Health Foundation which provides primary leadership and inspiration for the Paso del Norte trail planning underway in the region. He enjoys photography.

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