Check out the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's new website for the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
Like a string of pearls, the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge (LRGV) is made up of isolated tracts of habitat that, with the help of many partners, are slowly being strung together. From Falcon Dam to the Gulf of Mexico, the Refuge follows the Rio Grande along the last 275 river miles, connecting isolated tracts of land managed by private landowners, non-profit organizations, the State of Texas, and the two other NWRs, Laguna Atascosa and Santa Ana.
Thousands of years of geographic change and evolutionary adaptation have resulted in the creation of 11 distinct ecosystems in the four most southern counties of Texas. Portions of each of these ecosystems are represented in the LRGV. Established in 1979, this ‘wildlife corridor' Refuge not only ensures protection of habitat, it provides important corridors for wildlife to travel, nest, rest and feed.
Since the 1920's, 95 percent of the native habitat found within the lower delta has been cleared or altered for agricultural or urban development. More recently, the North American Free Trade Agreement further stimulated urbanization, bringing with it the expansion of industry, several new international bridges, and added tensions to the ever-complicated battle over water rights. These and other forms of encroachment have relegated native plants and animals to isolated remnant tracts, possibly compromising the genetic integrity of many species. Hoping to connect these tracts, the 90,000 acre LRGV seeks to conserve biodiversity through land acquisition, habitat restoration, and conservation education.