Refuge awarded $11.1 million for land acquisition, habitat conservation

By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
editor@portisabelsouthpadre.com

Officials at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge (LANWR) learned Monday that the refuge has been awarded $11.1 million in grants for land acquisition and habitat conservation.

The funds come via two grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, according to a statement released by Congressman Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) Monday afternoon.

The funds will ultimately allow the refuge to acquire property along the Bahia Grande, as well as to expand its South Padre Island tracts. The land will be purchased by the Nature Conservancy Fund, said Refuge Manager Boyd Blihovde during a phone interview Monday.

“These parcels will connect already protected Fish and Wildlife Servive-managed parcels that the Nature Conservancy already purchased over a decade ago,” Blihovde said.

Some 575 acres of land will be acquired along the Bahia Grande, including vital shoreline habitat, Blihovde said. “The piece that’s connected to Bahia Grande is a key addition to that and also protecting more of the Bahia Grande ecosystem that we’ve been working so hard to restore,” Blihovde said.

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