Cities throughout America are re-establishing a connection to their sometimes channeled and often times dewatered urban rivers. About 13 years ago, The Wildlands Conservancy (TWC) started promoting a Santa Ana River Renaissance reviving the vision of a continuous 110 mile trail from the San Bernardino Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Although constant urban growth and encroachment have diminished the breadth and flow of the river, through time, countless individuals and dedicated groups continued to advance the river trail. The Santa Ana River Renaissance enlarged the tri-county trail concept into a tri-county natural habitat and open space parkway project.

The Santa Ana River passes through the urban core of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Via the bike path, nearby national forests, state parks, county parks and the Pacific Ocean are becoming readily accessible to urban residents and bringing nature into the lives of urban youth. The tens of millions of dollars TWC has spent in this watershed on habitat acquisition, visitor facilities, outdoor education, trail planning and construction have fostered a strong partnership with the three counties and ten municipalities.

In 2006, elected officials from the cities and counties formalized this relationship by forming the Santa Ana River Trail and Parkway Policy Advisory Committee with TWC as a voting member. Working together, the Policy Advisory Committee was able to earmark $45 million out of voter approved Proposition 84 to the three county park departments for the Santa Ana River Trail and Parkway. The missing links in the trail and parkway are now slated to be completed by 2019.