By PAMELA CODY
Special to the Press
The Cameron County Commissioners Court was met with a contingency of local residents and environmental activists, all save for one opposing the commission’s decision to pursue private development of the Andy Bowie flats on South Padre Island.
The County Commission began soliciting bids for private development for a commercial facility to be built on the North flats of South Padre Island, Texas. The land is public land, and was deeded to be used only for public use and access, not for private development.
At the 9 a.m. meeting on Tuesday, May 14, several individuals merely went on the record stating their opposition to building on the flats. However, several individuals did speak, representing themselves and various wildlife and environmental groups in the Rio Grande Valley area.
First to address the commission was Joyce Hamilton of Harlingen. Hamilton was representing the RGV Birding Festival, the Bay Area Birders of Laguna Vista, and several private individuals who support their statement.
“We are opposed to the possible development of a bay front family entertainment resort on the North flats within Andy Bowie Park on SPI,” Hamilton began. She noted that the proposed area of development is immensely important to many bird species throughout the year, with over 60 bird species annually use this area.
“It is not unusual to count over 600 black skimmers resting on the flats among the diversity of hundreds of other birds during spring and fall migration. It is a critical stopover site for feeding and resting shore birds that travel thousands of miles between South Central America wintering grounds and North American breeding grounds,” explained Hamilton. She noted that amongst the most endangered birds are the piping plover and red knot, which are federally threatened species, and the reddish egret and peregrine falcon, which are state threatened species.
“Any further recreational development of the Andy Bowie flats would permanently and negatively impact historic and current bird use,” stated Hamilton.
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