Miller Springs Nature Center

Traffic goes by Miller Springs Nature Center on FM 2271.

A joint effort between the cities of Belton and Temple to keep Miller Springs Nature Center open after it suddenly shuttered more than two years ago recently earned statewide recognition.

The Texas Recreation and Park Society recently gave the municipalities a Conservation Award at the nonprofit’s regional conference in Pflugerville this month.

“It’s nice to be recognized by the Texas Recreation and Park Society,” Belton spokesman Paul Romer told the Telegram. “It took a lot of effort from many different people to make sure Miller Springs stayed open. It’s nice to see recognition on this level.”

The nature center closed in August 2017 after the Miller Springs Alliance — the volunteer organization that maintained the facility beginning in 1993 — could no longer afford an annual insurance premium.

The cities stepped in and made an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — which owns the land — to reopen Miller Springs.

“The leadership teams in Belton and Temple worked out a simple solution to a unique challenge,” Belton Parks and Recreation Director Matt Bates said in a statement. “That’s the way people want government to work, and we feel a lot of pride whenever we see families using the park or volunteers giving of their time to make sure it is maintained.”

Each city has set responsibilities. Temple dedicated staff to take care of daily maintenance of the 258-acre reserve while Belton coordinates and manages volunteer events.

The agreement was last renewed by the Temple and Belton City Councils in March 2018. The contract has four one-year renewals.

“People appreciate Miller Springs again. More people are using the park, and volunteer efforts have been substantial,” Temple Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Beavers said. “Two local governments came together for the betterment of the community, and people have responded in an impressive way.”

Around 250 volunteers have worked more than 760 hours to help maintain the facility, located off of FM 2271 near the Belton Dam, according to the cities.