Caracara Trails Taking Flight

The cities in Cameron County began working together a few years ago to develop and plan a 428 mile network of trails (on road, off road, on water) that connects them to each other as well as to the most treasured environmental and historic sites in the county. The “Active Plan” now has been named the “Caracara Trails” and continues to build momentum with public support, a national endorsement, aggressive grant writing, a Project Manager and strong coalition participation. Not sitting on the shelf, the Plan is “living and growing”. Join us in hearing about updates and progress in our region.

Rose M.Z. Gowen, M.D. was elected to the Brownsville City Commission in 2009, 2013, and 2017. Dr. Gowen has focused on smart growth, and health related issues to raise awareness to the region’s high levels of diabetes and other obesity related chronic illness. Working with the UT School of Public Health-Brownsville, she was instrumental in the design and development of the Brownsville Farmer’s Market. Dr. Gowen was the first Chairwoman of the Board of Directors and led the market in becoming a Texas certified farmers’ market. The Market is recognized as a model of excellence by the Texas Department of Health and the US Mexico Border Health Commission. Establishing a working relationship between the UT School of Public Health, many city departments and business entities, she has spearheaded efforts to provide active living programming such as cycloBia since 2012. Building a vibrant Brownsville in a healthy way is her mantra as she builds capacity and momentum with programs to create a community that is economically bustling with people friendly spaces that are health promoting. In 2014 Brownsville was recognized by RWJF as a Culture of Health winner and in 2016 became a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly City (American League of Bicyclists). Partnering science, city government, and the community has resulted in a rich integrated network of policy and programing that invites healthy living. Dr. Gowen enjoys cycling, quilting, and traveling.

Eva Garcia joined RTC in 2019 to serve as the on-the-ground project manager for the Caracara Trails, which leverages active tourism and active transportation strategies to improve the health of the region while advancing regional economic development. Prior to RTC, she served as a planner for the City of Brownsville, working mainly on bicycle and pedestrian facilities, park improvements, and more. A life long resident of the Rio Grande Valley, Eva is passionate about improving the quality of life in here predominately Latin and low income community, which is challenged by high rates of obesity and diabetes. An avid volunteer, Eva also founded an earn-a-bike program called the Brownsville Bike Barn and serves with environmental and cultural organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Texas at Brownsville.

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