They are in the 23 counties that surround Houston, giving this urban area a unique natural setting. Of course, too few people are aware of the wealth of benefits the Greater Houston area has to offer.
But the number of people who do know is growing and collaborating to create the newly named Sam Houston Trail and Wilderness Preserve that will one day be a ribbon of undeveloped land encircling Houston and joined one to the other.
Jim Blackburn is an environmental lawyer and Vice President of Houston Wilderness. He says the start of this ambitious trail system is the Spring Creek Greenway.
"Spring Creek is a beautiful creek that is the boundary between Montgomery County and Harris County. It has beautiful bottomland woods associated with it and beautiful sandbars. There's been a joint venture between Montgomery County and Harris County and The Woodlands, to set aside park space and now a trail system. This will be the first of what we hope will be a master trail that will surround the Houston region."
The Spring Creek Greenway will connect seven parks and preserves stretching from the EastTex freeway to FM 29-78 in Tomball.
"And then we hope to find other parties to put together a trail across the Katy Prairie that will connect from the west to the east, and then down the Brazos River and further east to the Big Thicket and down to the bay and all around."
Blackburn says half of this plan can be accomplished in a few years, but the rest will take longer.
The acquisition of land and trail development will cost a lot of money.Î¾ Brad Raffle of Houston Wilderness says this area has not taken advantage of money available for such projects.
"Houston has left a lot of money on the table and many other parts of the United States have made a real effort to bring in dollars to acquire and protect green space. We haven't done that in Greater Houston nearly to the degree that we can."
Making people aware of what we have here is the main reason Rosie Zamora founded Houston Wilderness.
Her experience in business taught her how important quality of life is to attracting businesses and the people to make them successful, to an area.
She wanted an organization of environmentalist and business leaders to focused on that.
The ambitious Sam Houston Trail and Wilderness Preserve is the result.
"We, for the first time, all feel quality of life, quality of place, is critical to Houston for us to be able to compete nationally as well as globally."
Jim Blackburn says it was Rosie Zamora who got business leaders and environmentalist to see the same thing then when they looked to the future.
"What we have in front of us is nothing but opportunity, and opportunity is to be enjoyed and taken care of and that's what we're trying to do; protect these ecosystems and also protect our economic future as well as our ecological future."