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County
Hidalgo
Region
South Texas Plains
Nearby
Parks
Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge
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Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge Information:
The Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1979 to connect the remaining existing tracts of natural brush along the Rio Grande River. The unit’s 111 individual land tracts (most are undeveloped) total over 90,000 acres. The refuge units are located in Starr, Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy counties, and are scattered in an area extending 275 miles along the Rio Grande River from Falcon Dam to the Gulf of Mexico. Habitats in this refuge range from Chihuahuan thorn forests to Texas ebony forests, sable palm forests, brushland, tidal wetlands, salt lakes, resacas, riverside woodlands, caliche hillsides and a variety of other habitats. Both the Central and Mississippi bird flyways cross this area. The refuge remains the top priority of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service continues making acquisitions of land with the ultimate goal being to enlarge the refuge to 132,500 acres. The tracts are home to over 1,100 types of plants, over 700 wildlife species including 484 species of birds, and over 300 species of butterflies. Of immense importance is the protection of the endangered ocelot, Jaguarundi, and Kemp's Ridley sea turtle. The Santa Ana NWR, Laguna Atascosa NWR and the Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR form the South Texas NWR Complex (STNWR) which offices at the Santa Ana NWR.
 
Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters:
The headquarters for this refuge and the South Texas NWR Complex is located at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center near Alamo, Texas. Information, maps and directions are available from the visitor center. To reach the Refuge Headquarters, take U.S. 83 to Alamo. Turn south onto FM 907 and drive 7.5 miles to Highway 281 (Old Military Highway). Turn east on Highway 281 and continue for approximately one quarter of a mile to the Santa Ana NWR entrance on the south side of the highway.
 
Friends of the Wildlife Corridor Volunteers:
These volunteers support the Lower Rio Grande Valley and the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuges. Resident volunteers live in Santa Ana NWR provided RV campsites in exchange for a specified number of work hours each week. All volunteers work specific activities or projects, such as construction, field maintenance, mechanical work, carpentry, assisting with annual reforesting projects, and plumbing and electrical work. Many volunteers work the Santa Ana Nursery doing many necessary activities from seed collecting to planting seedlings. Other volunteers work the coast region’s Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle project, or use their skills as artists, journalists, educators, computer whizzes, biologists, gardeners, bi-linguists, speakers and birders to contribute to the refuge programs. They also purchase available tracts of land of interest to the Refuges and temporarily hold the tracts until the refuges can purchase them. These parcels are typically small and a located adjacent to existing refuge lands. Check out their events.  (956) 784-7500. Mail volunteers at 3325 Green Jay Road, Alamo, Texas 78516.  Email 1  Email 2
 
Boca Chica Tract, 17,000 Acres, Brownsville, TX:
The 10,680 acre Boca Chica Beach and Dunes unit of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge is the most eastern unit of the LRGVNWR. Boca Chica is located 23 miles from Brownsville. From U.S. 77 in Brownsville, exit SH 48 (Boca Chica Boulevard 1.5 miles east; it becomes SH 4. Continue on SH 4 for 21 miles until it ends at the beach where the sand dunes open up. (Note that midway through your drive on SH 4, you will see you are entering the refuge; the entrance is designated by cement walls and the Historical Marker for the Battle of Palmito Ranch Historical Site). Remember while on the refuge to not enter any gates, even if they are open. Drive to the beach. If you turn right on the beach you will drive to the mouth of the Rio Grande River; you will see a working lighthouse on the Mexican side of the river. Habitat in this area consists of beach front, saline flats, mangrove marshes, shallow bays and unique dunes of wind-blown clay known as ‘lomas’. 5 species of sea turtles nest in this area. Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles nest here during the spring and summer. Birds are plentiful and includeperegrine falcons, aplomado falcons, brown pelicans, herons, egrets (including reddish egrets), sanderlings, willets, ruddy turnstones, American oystercatchers, terns, gulls and other migratory and resident birds. This is also where if you are lucky, you will see Warbler fallouts during the spring. If you drive north on the beach you will reach the Brazos Santiago Pass and the jetties protecting the Brownsville Ship Channel. You can view Padre Island across the jetties. In addition to beach driving you may also drive the fishing access roads; two roads go to the Rio Grande River, and one road goes to the Brownsville Ship Channel. On the SH 4 drive you may see Aplomado Falcons (watch the power lines or yuccas near the Border Patrol check station at the beginning of SH 4), and other raptors, sparrows and similar species. The refuge is open to foot traffic only; motorized vehicles are only permitted on the beach. Bring drinking water, insect repellent and sun protection. Open year round, sunrise to sunset; no fees. (956) 784-7500. From Brownsville, take SH 4 until it ends at the Boca Chica Beach.
 
Monte Cristo Tract, 2,700 Acres, Edinburg, TX:
The Monte Cristo Tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge offers seasonal dove hunting by permit. The tract is good for viewing winter birds and for viewing fall and spring migration. There are two potholes (for storing water) that support the surrounding wetlands. Access is by hiking only. A trailhead for the three mile loop trail is located off Wallace Road. Diamondback rattlesnakes inhabit this area so wear snake-proof boots and snake guards. Open daily from sunrise to sunset; no fees apply. (956) 784-7500. From U.S. 281 in Edinburg, travel north to FM 1925. Go west on FM 1925 for approximately 7 miles to Wallace Road. Take Wallace Road north for 3.5 miles. The entrance may be identified by the information kiosk located on the left (west) side of the road. Walk along the canal and road to access the property. You may also bird a 16 mile loop road which includes Wallace Road and several land tracts.
 
Salineno Tract, 0.5 Acres, Roma & Salineno, TX:
Habitat on the Salineno Tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refugeconsists of upper Rio Grande Valley flood forest habitat. This site is good for birding and butterfly watching; the site formerly had access to the Rio Grande River. Amenities include a parking lot and information kiosk. (956) 784-7521.(956) 784-7500. From U.S.83 west of Roma, turn left at the sign for Salineno.
 
La Puerta Tract, 4,000 Acres, Rio Grande City, TX:
The semiarid Barretal Habitat at the La Puerta Tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge provides excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. The hiking and walking trails are limited to pedestrian use. Amenities include a parking lot and an information kiosk. (956) 784-7500. This tract is located on U.S. 83, 3 miles east of Rio Grande City.
 
Yturria Tract LRGVNWRHunting & Birding, 1,800 Acres, La Joya, TX:
Habitat at the 1,800 acre Yturria Brush Tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge consists of thornscrub. Amenities include an information kiosk, hiking and biking trails, old roads and a designated parking lot. The tract is closed during annual seasonal hunts. This tract is an excellent area to view wildlife. (956) 784-7500. The Yturria is located on U.S. 83, west of La Joya.
 
La Grulla Tract LRGVNWRHunting, La Grulla, TX:
The La Grulla Tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge offers seasonal dove hunting by permit. (956) 784-7500. La Grulla is located 15 miles southeast of Rio Grande City, Texas. The tract is located on FM 2360, 3 miles south of U.S. 83 in La Grulla.
 
La Sal Del Ray (Salt of the King), 5,400 Acres, Harlingen, TX:
This unit of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of a 530 acre salt lake originally discovered by the Spanish Conquistadors; salt from the mines was transported to Spain and her colonies, and into Mexico. This lake is one of three naturally occurring salt lakes in South Texas; all three are protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Sitting atop an estimated four million tons of salt, these hypersaline lakes are seven times saltier than the ocean. La Sal del Rey was purchased in 1992 for the purpose of protecting the salt lake and its surrounding Tamaulipan thornscrub and grasslands. The lake has been designated a ‘Site of International Significance’ for migrating shorebirds by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. The lake is an important wintering area for the long-billed curlew, the largest shorebird in North America and one of the most threatened; it is estimated that 10% of the world’s long-billed curlew population use the salt lakes as winter roosting sites. The lake is also used by migrating ducks, geese, other shorebirds and sandhill cranes. Other birds include snowy plover, white-tipped dove, wild turkey, Harris’s hawk, crested caracara, black-bellied whistling-ducks, white-tailed hawk and Cassin’s sparrow.The lake is listed in the National Register of Historic Places; a Texas Historical Marker is located at the entrance. Access is by foot only. Open daily, sunrise to sunset. (956) 784-7500. (956) 787-3079, Ext. 100. The unit is bounded by SH 186, Brushline Road, and Chapa Road. The lake is located 28 miles northeast of McAllen, Texas; the lake’s white banks are visible from SH 186. From McAllen, go north on U.S. 281 for approximately 25 miles; exit 186 east and drive approximately 4 miles to the kiosk on the north side of the road. From Harlingen, go north on U.S. 77 for approximately 24 miles; exit 186 west and drive 22 miles to the Kiosk.
 
La Sal Vieja Lake & East Lake, Raymondville, TX:
This unit of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of two salt lakes, the 2,475 acre La Sal Vieja Lake (West Lake) and the 720 acre East Lake; the two lakes are separated by a natural isthmus. These lakes are two of the three salt lakes located in the South Texas; the third lake is the El Sal del Rey located near Edinburg. The La Sal Vieja was probably used during prehistoric times by one of the many nomadic Indian groups later known as Coahuiltecans. The Spaniards were the first Europeans to trade with the Indians for salt. The lake was on lands in the Las Mestenqas Petitas y las Abra land grant secured by Rosa Maria Hinojosa for her son Juan Jose Balli in 1774. In the 1840s, the land passed to Juan’s brother, Padre Nicolas Balli, for whom Padre Island is named. Salt was excavated and shipped commercially from La Sal Vieja until 1920. Both the La Sal Vieja Lake and La Sal Del Ray have been designated a ‘Site of International Significance’ for migrating shorebirds by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. The lake is an important wintering area for the long-billed curlew, the largest shorebird in North America and one of the most threatened; it is estimated that 10% of the world’s long-billed curlew population use the salt lakes as winter roosting sites. The lake is also used by migrating ducks, geese, shorebirds and sandhill cranes. Other birds include snowy plover, white-tipped dove, wild turkey, Harris’s hawk, crested caracara, black-bellied whistling-ducks, white-tailed hawk and Cassin’s sparrow. The lake is located 4.5 miles west of Raymondville on CR 141. Open daily, sunrise to sunset; no fees; foot access only. (956) 784-7500.
 
Teniente Tract, Raymondville, TX:
Habitat at the Teniente Tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge consists of inland hypersaline lakes. Amenities include hiking trails, an information kiosk and a parking lot. Seasonal hunting by permit is available. Open daily, sunrise to sunset; no fee, foot access only. (956) 784-7500. Directions: From Raymondville go 8.8 miles west on SH 186 (about 2.4 miles past its junction with FM 88) to the third of the three roads that go north into the tract. Go north about 2.6 miles to the Teniente tract Information Kiosk.