In 2021, the US Fish and Wildlife Service added nearly 7,000 acres of public land to the National Wildlife Refuge System in Texas. This brings the total number of land managed by the Service in the state to nearly 700,000 acres in 19 national wildlife refuges and three national hatcheries.
Covering a variety of ecosystems, from the coastal prairie of the Rio Grande Valley to the hardwood forests of eastern Texas, these acquisitions aim to connect, protect and restore wildlife habitat and increase access to recreation for the Texans.
“These public lands provide access to a host of popular activities such as hiking, hunting and fishing, while providing vital habitat for thousands of wildlife,” said Amy Lueders, Southwest Regional Director of the Service. “Conservation stewardship and increasing equitable access to public lands are essential elements of the America the Beautiful initiative. We encourage Texans to come visit their National Wildlife Refuges to connect with the outdoors and experience some of the state’s most iconic ecosystems and the fish and wildlife that depend on them.
At Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, the Service has acquired over 4,933 acres on 10 separate plots of land. The largest expanse, a 3,361-acre addition in Cameron County, was one of the few large parcels remaining near the refuge and is critical to creating a wildlife corridor. This property will provide exceptional opportunities for hunters, including upland and migratory birds, waterfowl and big game species such as white-tailed deer. An additional 1,512 acres, known locally as Holly Beach, provide habitat for native and federally threatened species and will expand public use activities at the sanctuary, including hiking, biking, viewing and fishing. wildlife photography. The remaining plots purchased in 2021 are a 53-acre former aquaculture facility that will be shallow flooded to enhance surrounding vegetation for the benefit of wildlife, and several barrier island habitat plots on South Padre Island that will benefit the native vegetation and wildlife.
At Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, the service has acquired over 307 acres of prime habitat for Golden-cheeked Warblers and Black-crowned Vireo in Travis County, bringing the sanctuary to over 25,000 acres in total. In addition to providing excellent habitat for wildlife, the two acquired plots increase the possibilities of public use of the refuge, including hunting, bird watching, photography, wildlife viewing, hiking and trekking. environmental education.
At the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the service acquired more than 1,500 acres on three plots of land. In the 1,477-acre territory of La Sal Vieja, a culturally and historically significant salt lake is surrounded by native upland habitat. This remarkable addition to the refuge will allow the Service to increase its efforts to conserve vegetation trails for the movement of wildlife between areas of natural habitat, while providing the public with additional access to the refuge to participate in dependent recreational activities. from wildlife. Another 72-acre expanse of dense native scrub will provide cover and breeding habitat for resident wildlife such as white-tailed deer, javelin, coyote, bobcat, doves and potentially the endangered ocelot. disappearance. The third parcel, consisting of 10 acres along the Rio Grande, contains riparian floodplain vegetation that will benefit opossums, eastern rabbits, coyotes, raccoons, striped skunks, bobcats, jays. greens, golden-fronted woodpeckers, doves, flycatchers, hawks, kestrels, and caracaras.
At Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, the service acquired more than 270 acres of remaining upland prairie habitat to provide necessary wintering, migrating and nesting habitat for resident and migratory bird species in the Chenier Plain in Texas. The property is located in the 100 year old floodplain and benefits a variety of native and migratory wildlife. Eastern Black Rail is likely to occupy the area, as well as migratory upland birds, doves, larks, and black-bellied and marbled whistling ducks.
At the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge, the Service acquired over 96 acres of hardwood from the lowlands adjacent to the Neches River. This acquisition will increase access to recreation for canoeing, kayaking, hunting, fishing, hiking, photography and environmental education.
These acquisitions were made possible with the help of a number of nonprofit conservation partners and private donors, including The Conservation Fund, Friends of the Wildlife Corridor, and the Delta Lake Irrigation District. In addition, the Service has used land and water conservation funds, migratory bird conservation funds, recreational access funds, Deepwater Horizon natural resource damage assessment funds and funds. of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefits, in combination with $ 15,752,101 in federal acquisition.
National Wildlife Sanctuaries provide vital habitat for thousands of species and access to world-class recreation, from fishing, hunting and boating to nature viewing, photography and environmental education. National wildlife refuges also contribute $ 3.2 billion a year to local economies and support more than 41,000 jobs, according to the Banking on Nature Service report.
The America the Beautiful initiative is a decade-long campaign to conserve, connect and restore 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030. The effort aims to support locally-led conservation and restoration efforts and volunteers on public, private and tribal lands and waters. in order to create jobs and strengthen the foundations of the economy; fight against climatic and natural crises; and fight against inequitable access to the outside world.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continued benefit of the American people. For more information about our work and the people who carry it out, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube channel and upload photos from our Flickr page.