South Texas National Wildlife Refuges The Jewel of the Refuge System

The complex, including Laguna Atascosa, Lower Rio Grande Valley and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuges are found on the most southern tip of Texas where the Rio Grande meets the Gulf of Mexico. Combined, they include approximately 180,000 acres and provide important habitat for the many species that rest, nest, feed and live here. Many of these species can only be found in deep South Texas, including the highly endangered ocelot and several types of birds that draw wildlife watchers from around the world.

An impressive 410 species of birds, 45 mammals, 44 kinds of reptiles, 130 butterfly and 450 plant species have been recorded here. Eight federally listed endangered and threatened animal species and twenty-three state listed species depend on the vanishing habitats that are preserved here at Laguna Atascosa NWR, including ocelots, northern aplomado falcons, brown pelicans, Texas horned lizard, and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.

Through “mini-grants” offered by the refuges, communities can create public green space that reflects their neighborhoods and connects to refuge lands, vacant lots, and underutilized urban areas.

Refuges Connect Communities

The most southern tip of Texas, the lower Rio Grande Valley, is considered one of the fastest growing regions in the nation and includes 1.3 million residents on this side of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Known as the last great habitat in coastal south Texas, the South Texas Refuge Complex supports a diversity of wildlife unlike anywhere else in the United States.

Through a diversity of educational, business, and cultural programs, refuges create and protect habitat in schools yards, city pocket parks, and vacant lots, as well as create urban wildlife corridors that connect to refuge lands.

Refuges support and facilitate community efforts to identify, recognize, and care for nature in their communities and, by extension, a nearby national wildlife refuge.

Reptiles include Texas tortoise, American alligator, indigo snake, western diamondback rattlesnake and coral snake. The South Padre Island Unit provides nesting habitat for sea turtles - Kemp’s ridley, loggerhead, hawksbill and Atlantic green.

Refuges enhance education in one of the nation’s poorest school districts and create employment opportunities.

South Texas National Wildlife Refuge Complex offers visitors an opportunity to see birds, butterflies and many other species not found anywhere else in the United States beyond deep South Texas.


Ian Shive/USFWS

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