Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge 

The 97,000-acre Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge offers a dramatic landscape of thorny brush intermixed with freshwater wetlands and unusual clay dunes that are called "tomas." This national wildlife refuge at the southernmost tip of the state of Texas has been called the "last great habitat" by some. At some point every year, almost half of all the different continental U.S. bird species either feed, rest, nest or migrate here. The refuge also hosts endangered ocelots, white-tailed deer, Plain Chachalaca and Aplomado Falcons.

History

The region was first explored by Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda, a Spanish explorer that came to the Rio Grande Valley in 1519. He and his cohorts found bays filled with ducks, deer feeding along the edges of the brush and doves filling the sky. By the 1800s, cattle ranching was reducing the amount of native vegetation. In the 20th century, agricultural production further decimated the original flora and fauna. Today, less than five percent of the native vegetation that Pineda observed long ago remains. It is in this context that the Laguna Atascosa NWR seeks to preserve and to restore the original habitat of this region.



Parks and Recreation

With almost 100,000 acres of land in the refuge, there is ample room for a number of recreational pursuits, including fishing. Try shore fishing along the Atlantic coast or enjoy freshwater fishing on the inland waters.

Attractions and Activities

Of course, birdwatching is a popular activity in the refuge. There are more species recorded here (457) than in another other national wildlife refuge. There are also more ocelots found here than anywhere else in the U.S. Many visiting families also discover that the profusion of butterflies will enchant children of all ages. In fact, more than 130 species have been identified here.


Events

Visitors can sign up for interpretive kayak tours that are half-day-long events. These tours are offered on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in June, July and August. A guided guided kayak tour offers one a dynamic way to discover what the amazing ecosystem has to offer.

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Susan Brown
Susan Brown
Associate