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County
Hidalgo
Region
South Texas Plains
Nearby
Parks
Estero Llano Grande World Birding Center
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Estero Llano Grande State Park WBC Information:
The former private Methodist Camp Thicket Retreat was added to Estero Grande State Park & World Birding Center in 2011. It is located adjacent to the original Estero Llano Grande State Park which is now a World Birding Center with 230 prime acres of birding habitat. Over a 6 year period, 200 acres at this WBC have been restored to its natural habitat through planned irrigation and other land management programs. Projects included replanting a sorghum field and dry lake bed with native trees and shrubs, such as acacia, Texas ebony, bald cypress, cedar elm, and sabal palm. The sabal palm is Texas' only native palm tree. Only 100 acres out of the original 100,000 acre Rio Grande Sabal forest exists today. This WBC has the largest amount of wetlands of all the WBC sites, largely because of the Arroyo Colorado (River) bordering the south and southeast areas of the park. The depth of these wetlands is controlled to an average depth of 6 inches to 2 feet depending on specific area requirements. Alligator Lake, a part of the Arroyo Colorado (River), is approximately 8 feet deep and is edged with marsh cane. Grebe Marsh is located nearby. There are 5 ponds in the park including Ibis, Dowitcher, Curlew, Avocet, and Kiskadee. Canals are located in the central area of the park. All of these programs paid off handsomely as the birds now come in droves, and large numbers of other wildlife species have returned, including alligators. Amenities include boardwalks, observation decks (at the Visitor Center and at Alligator Lake), over 3 miles of ADA compliant and primitive trails, picnic facilities, and a Visitor Center/Park Store. Several facilities are available for event rentals. The brushy thorn scrub in front the Visitor Center attracts hummingbirds, including black-chinned hummingbirds. The WBC consists of 230 acres. Admission fees apply.  World Birding Centers Parks Brochure
 
Arroyo Colorado (River):
The Arroyo Colorado, an ancient distributary channel of the Rio Grande River, rises at Lake Llano Grande, 2 miles south of Weslaco in Hidalgo County. The Arroyo carries excess Rio Grande River floodwaters to the Laguna Madre. The river is navigable to barges through parts of its dredged channel from the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to the port of Harlingen. From Harlingen to Mission it is navigable only to small boats.The section between Rio Hondo and Arroyo City is suitable for recreational use. Estero Llano Grande State Park and WBC is located near its headwaters. The stretch of river near its mouth passes through the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. River towns include Mission, Harlingen, Rio Hondo and Arroyo City, Texas.   
 
Directions:
The park is located just off FM 1015 in Weslaco (2 miles south of U.S. 83).