100 Acres Protected in Texas Gulf Coast Region

SWEENEY, TX, 7/27/04 – Brazoria County and the Trust for Public Land (TPL), today celebrated the addition of approximately 100 acres of bottomland hardwood forestland to the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, located along Texas’ Gulf Coast. The project marks TPL’s sixth collaboration with the San Bernard Refuge, bringing the total acreage protected through this partnership to more than 4,300 acres.

TPL purchased and conveyed the land to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). The parcel will further protect neotropical migratory songbirds, scores of coastal live oak trees, and many other wildlife species.

“These forests are some of the most important to wildlife in the area,” said Amy Wanamaker, TPL project manager. “We are pleased to be a partner in the efforts to protect this tremendous natural resource for future generations of Texans.”

In 1995, FWS initiated a regional land conservation planning effort known as the Austin’s Woods Conservation Plan to protect the region’s unique ecosystem. The initiative calls for the protection of 28,000 acres of native wetlands in Brazoria, Fort Bend, Matagorda, and Wharton Counties. This area’s ecosystem provides habitat for 237 species and 239 million individual birds annually.

“This parcel is a wonderful addition of prime forest habitat for neotropical migrant birds and other wildlife,” said Mike Lange, wildlife biologist for FWS. “We’re very excited to have made another major contribution to the national refuge system.”

Located south of Houston, the region was once a vast ecosystem of bottomland hardwood forests and wetlands encompassing over 700,000 acres and reaching nearly 50 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. The area has suffered from clear-cut logging operations and new suburban development. Today, only 177,000 acres of this habitat type remain along the Texas Gulf Coast.

In recent years, TPL has helped FWS purchase and conserve these wetland tracts, characterized by bottomland hardwood forest, swamp and marsh. In 1999, TPL conveyed 2,378 acres. Two years later, TPL conveyed a 1,271-acre tract, which included the new champion live oak for the state of Texas. Another 608 acres were added by TPL in January 2003. TPL transferred another 102 acres in April 2004.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.9 million acres of land in 45 states. In Texas, TPL has protected more than 26,000 acres for communities, including areas in and around Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information please visit us on the web at www.tpl.org