Bluebonnets brighten the trail along the Mission Reach. Photo by Al Rendon/SARA.
Bluebonnets brighten the trail along the Mission Reach. Photo by Al Rendon/SARA.

It took five years from 2008-13 and $271.4 million to restore the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River, and now there is a short film documentary about the creation of the eight-mile linear park that courses through San Antonio’s Historic Mission District. The official name of the undertaking was the Mission Reach Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation Project, and planning for it began 20 years before the actual ground-breaking with the formation of the San Antonio River Oversight Committee, a 22-member citizen committee in 1998 to guide the planning and implementation of the project.

For anyone who has pedaled a bicycle, paddled a kayak, pushed a stroller, or simply walked along the paved paths lining the river, you can attend a free showing of the film this month and learn more about the people and the organizations that came together to make possible the most ambitious environmental restoration project in city history.

“The Mission Reach: Restoring the San Antonio River” was produced by the San Antonio River Authority, which managed the massive project and protects and maintains the Mission Reach today. SARA, as the agency is commonly known, announced Wednesday that it will screen the film at its Second Annual Environmental Film Fest to help commemorate National Rivers Month. The festival will take place Thursday, 5-10 p.m., at Santikos Bijou Cinema Bistro at the Wonderland of the Americas Mall, formerly Crossroads Mall. The event is free, but seating is limited to the first 200 attendees.

Map courtesy of the San Antonio River Authority.
San Antonio River’s reaches and projects. Map courtesy of the San Antonio River Authority.

SARA, partnering with the South Yuba River Citizens League Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival, also will feature “national and international short films about topics such as nature, adventure, wildlife, environmental justice, and conservation.”

This will be the premiere screening of the SARA documentary, which includes from the project’s key contributors including Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, Bexar County Commissioner Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez, San Antonio River Oversight Committee Co-Chairs Lila Cockrell and Irby Hightower, SARA General Manager Suzanne Scott, and City of San Antonio Center City Development and Operations Director Lori Houston.

“The Environmental Film Fest is a great platform to celebrate National Rivers Month and help raise awareness of how we all need to play a role in the protection and preservation of our natural resources,” said SARA’s General Manager Suzanne Scott. “We hope event attendees feel a deeper appreciation for the creeks and rivers within the San Antonio River Watershed and are inspired to take personal actions to improve water quality and support the ecosystems of these important water resources.”

Attendees also can visit informational tables from 5-7 p.m. to learn about SARA and the Wild & Scenic Film Festival sponsors as well as other local environmental groups, including Alamo Area Master Naturalists, Bat Conservation International, EcoCentro, Edwards Aquifer, Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas, Hill Country Alliance, San Antonio River Foundation, San Antonio Water System, and the Sierra Club Alamo Group.

For more information about the film fest and to view the full schedule of screenings, visit

*Featured/top image: Bluebonnets brighten the trail along the Mission Reach. Photo by Al Rendon/SARA.

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This article was assembled by various members of the San Antonio Report staff.