The largest protected area of natural habitat open to the public in the Rio Grande Valley is Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, and now is a great time of year to visit this South Texas treasure.

Marion Mason is the park ranger for Laguna Atascosa and knows the extensive trails well. Marion Mason, Laguna Atascosa Park Ranger says, “We have about 100,000 acres. It’s in three different sections, but if you come out you can get out away from everything. There are miles and miles of trails.  We are talking 60 miles where you can get out and bike, hike…really get out into nature.”

The main refuge east of Rio Hondo encompasses some 45,000 contiguous acres, while lands north of the town of South Padre Island cover 22,000 acres and the Bahia Grande tract north of the Port of Brownsville consists of 21,000 acres.
Mason, “We have numerous habitats that you can experience.  We have the thorn scrub forest.  We have the coastal prairie.  We have fresh water wetlands as well as edges of the Laguna Madre.”
These diverse habitats attract a variety of wildlife from endangered ocelots to rare aplomado falcons. Mason, “Laguna Atascosa has 410 recorded species of birds, which is more than any other wildlife refuge in the country.”

This is a wonderful time of year to visit the refuge as the recent rains have filled the big lake, and migratory waterfowl are already arriving to spend the winter. Mason, “September brought us nine inches of rain so not only is Laguna Atascosa lake full, alligator pond is full and pelican lake. We are chock full of water, and it is going to be great for the migratory waterfall that are coming in…the alligators are really loving it out there.”

With your Nature Report I’m Richard Moore