Milestone Moment: Laguna Atascosa celebrates 70th anniversary


Port Isabel-South Padre Press

It was a quiet birthday celebration Saturday as the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge (LANWR) rung in its 70th year.

There was no cake and no balloons, but there were demonstrations, lectures and a few educational booths from the Refuge’s partners, including Sea Turtle, Inc. and the UTRGV Coastal Studies Laboratory.

“We wanted to do something special for the 70th anniversary, so we have free admission today,” said LANWR Ranger Marion Mason.

The refuge wasn’t alone in its celebration, however. One of its most avid fans, Jaeda Sanchez, chose to celebrate her 11th birthday by visiting with her family. “I like cats. I like helping animals,” she said as she stood outside the Visitors Center.

Nearby, her younger sister, 2-year-old Zoe, sat on a bench with a coloring book and crayons in her lap coloring a picture of a fish. Their father, Rolando, smiled. “We saw that they had free activities,” he said, explaining that the family had traveled from Brownsville to grant Jaeda’s birthday wish of visiting the refuge.

Moments later, the family regrouped before heading off to explore another trail.

Not far from the Visitor’s Center, down a maintained trail, the door to a wooden bird blind stood open. Inside, JoRita Knopf, from Idaho Falls, Idaho, called out the names of various birds taking advantage of several smears of peanut butter she had laid across some logs and bird feeders.

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