The San Antonio River Foundation is the non-profit partner to the San Antonio River Authority. Established in 2003, our 501(c)(3) was created to provide amenities and enhancements along the San Antonio River and its tributaries not funded by public monies. As part of its mandate, the Foundation raises funds for, invests in and manages public projects that provide opportunities for residents and city visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the river and become thoughtful stewards of its future.
Our ambitious projects range from creating opportunities for education, recreation and interaction with nature along the river to initiating, funding, installing and maintaining exciting urban art projects by renowned regional, national, and international artists.
The Foundation’s initial focus was the San Antonio River Improvements Project, one of the country’s most transformative public works projects. The 15-mile linear park project is divided into two “reaches.” The Museum Reach is a formerly inaccessible section of river that has been transformed into a beautifully landscaped waterway featuring a multitude of innovative public art installations and a flourishing business and residential community. The Mission Reach is a habitat restoration, environmental education and health and wellness project with complimentary art installations that link the river to four of San Antonio’s five World Heritage designated Spanish colonial missions.
The Foundation’s current focus is on our evironmental education center: Confluence Park along the banks of the Mission Reach. This cutting edge, environmentally sustainable, educational green space located in the heart of the southern urban core of San Antonio. Nowhere is SARF’s commitment to education more evident than through our investment in Confluence Park. In an effort to provide impactful learning activities through a large scale demonstration of sustainable building and land-use practices, Confluence Park transformed a former industrial laydown yard into a unique, interactive learning and recreational space for local residents, students and visitors. The entire park is an interactive teaching tool that will inspire a greater understanding of Texas ecotypes and their relationships with one another, encouraging students and adults alike to become more involved with the preservation and stewardship of our waterways.
Arts & Culture
The San Antonio River Foundation raised nearly $12 million in private funds to enhance the Museum Reach with the turning basin at the Pearl Brewery complex, increased access to notable cultural institutions, a restored pedestrian bridge, extensive native plant landscaping, expanded walkways, improved lighting and eleven large-scale works of public art created by local, national and internationally known artists. Art installations along the Museum Reach and Mission Reach of the river to date include a fairytale waterfall grotto, numerous street-level railings, portals linking the river to four San Antonio missions, art benches for rest and contemplation, and underpass installations such as the iconic commuting F.I.S.H.
Community Health & Well-Being
Improving the San Antonio River is an ambitious project that is about more than simply changing the river’s channel and reengineering the river to its natural state. It’s also about creating the kinds of spaces along the river that will draw residents and visitors to this urban waterway in new ways.
Natural Recreation and Park Association’s article, Revitalizing Urban America Through Parks And Recreation reports: “Increased access to parks, green space, and recreation opportunities is essential to becoming a healthier nation and reducing unsustainable healthcare costs.”
Improvements along the San Antonio River support and enhance the efforts of those in our communities striving to create a healthier, happier and more prosperous connection to their world.
Environmental Restoration & Education
As a large and rapidly growing area, the San Antonio River region faces common environmental issues such as air and water pollution, industrial contaminants, flood control management and loss of natural habitats. Decades of growth and development along our river and its tributaries have contributed to the damage of riparian ecosystems that in some cases have isolated us from the rivers and streams that originally attracted settlement.
In October 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies involved in the Urban Waters Federal Partnership announced the designation of the San Antonio area as an Urban Waters location. The Partnership seeks to revitalize urban waters and the communities that surround them, transforming overlooked areas into treasured assets. The Museum Reach, the Mission Reach and our landmark project, Confluence Park, are an outgrowth of this vision.