Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy Nears Its Goal of Uniting Hardberger Park


Phil Hardberger recently announced $3 million in donations for the Land Bridge.  The three donors, each giving $1 million, are Phil and Linda Hardberger, the Klesse Foundation (Bill and Margie Klesse), and the Voelcker Fund.  Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff announced that he is working to secure $1 million in County funds for the bridge.

The announcements were made May 9, at a press conference at the PHP Urban Ecology Center.  Invited guests included Judge Wolff, U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett, and City Councilman Ron Nirenberg, as well as members of the PHP Conservancy Board of Directors.

The funds, along with the $5 million the Conservancy had previously raised and the $13 million included in the City of San Antonio Bond passed May 6, bring the total secured for the Land Bridge to $22 million.  The project is expected to cost $23 million.

Former Mayor Hardberger, President of the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy, said that he expects the Conservancy to raise the remaining $1 million by the end of the year and hopes that the City will break ground on the Land Bridge in January 2018.

Read more about the Land Bridge donations: 

Rivard Report-

Express News-

Texas Public Radio-


Ask a Naturalist: Burrowing Owls

Are there burrowing owls in the park?

There are not burrowing owls within Hardberger Park, because the park lacks the right habitat. Burrowing owls like more open land with short grasses. The savanna in Hardberger Park is too small and contains tall grasses. Burrowing owls also like to use prairie dog dens as their burrow to nest. Prairie dogs require much of the same habitat as burrowing owls and occur more west of Hardberger Park. Burrowing owls will, however, use burrows dug by other mammals such as skunks and armadillos.

A lot of borrows that you see in the park today, especially on the NW Military side, have been there since before the park opened. A preliminary wildlife survey suggested those were old badger burrows, dug years ago when the area was once inhabited by badgers. We did put wildlife cameras up on these burrows for months and did get armadillos moving in and out of the burrows. It is hard to tell if those burrows were in fact dug by armadillos or from an earlier mammal no longer inhabiting the park. Badgers once roamed this area but have been pushed westward due to development and loss of habitat.

Starting Out Wild: A Program that Introduces Toddlers to Nature


Two years ago San Antonio Natural Area Education Coordinator Peggy Spring had a dream of starting an educational program where toddlers love and experience nature in the first years of life. From this grew the Starting Out Wild (SOW) concept. Using the Growing Up WILD (GUW) curriculum as a base, lessons were adapted consistent with the best practices for infant and toddler education and development.  From the first trial class, the program was immensely popular, soon expanding from one session a month to as many as four or five, all with waiting lists. 

Starting Out Wild programs are offered for children 18 months to 3 years old at Phil Hardberger Park.

The basic format has four segments, including: learning, hiking, craft project and snack.  The lessons are highlighted with music and movement and a story on both ends to create a reassuring structure for children and parents.  All components are active with substantial nature content reinforced throughout.  

The SOW program is based on these principles:

  • The love of nature needs to accompany growing up from the earliest age.

  • Teaching must engage both children and parents.

  • Learning will spiral, moving from tolerating and participating, to acquiring nature concepts and vocabulary over the three year span.

  • Activities should facilitate children’s experiences through movement and using all their senses.

  • Familiar analogs of unfamiliar concepts and vocabulary are provided.

  • Providing an emotionally comfortable environment is the starting point.

Each session begins with a gathering of 15 toddlers and their parents sitting on a brightly colored carpet. Finger-play activities, songs, learning through familiar analogs and a short story are included.  A guided learning walk, craft and nutritional snack follows. Class ends with a reprise of earlier song and stories, the Goodbye-Song and sitting in the circle of friendship. Parents receive handouts reinforcing what has been taught.

Sign your child up for Starting Out Wild

Registration is required for this very popular program.  E-mail or call 210-207-3280 for more information.

New Membership Level: PAWS for the Park


PAWS for the Park: Just for our four-legged friends and the people who love them

Atticus, a young Rhodesian Ridgeback, loves to run free in Hardberger Park’s east-side dog park with his best friend, Lee Tinker. Atticus lives by the motto, “"I want to stay in the park all day.”

If your dog loves Hardberger Park as much as Atticus, the two of you can also become PAWS for the Park members of the PHP Conservancy. The benefits of your PAWS membership include:

  • Paws for the Park car window decal

  • Listing of dog member’s name on the Paws page of the PHPC website

  • Dog member’s picture in special album on PHPC Facebook page

  • Invitation to annual PAWS members only event

  • Plus all benefits of Redbud level: Park Map, e-Newsletter, Invitations to PHPC members events

Just as importantly, as PAWS for the Park members, you will support the Conservancy’s efforts to realize the community’s vision for the park. The Conservancy was instrumental in building the equipment in the dog parks and it co-sponsors the annual Pooch Parade. It also supports education programs, the restoration of the savanna, and the rehabilitation of the old homestead.

Become a PAWS for the Park member today to demonstrate your love for Phil Hardberger Park and to show your support of the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy.