Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge
Southwest Region, November 30, 2004
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Visitor Season Starts Visitors from around the world are beginning to show up at Santa Ana NWR to see the unique birds and butterflies of the area. Most of the resident volunteers have arrived this month to assist with visitor services, maintenance, revegetation, and biology efforts. Guided nature walks and guided bird walks have already started, along with Thursday morning canoe trips on the Rio Grande River along the banks of the refuge.

Tram Tours Begin after Thanksgiving Tram tours of Santa Ana NWR are a joint effort between the Valley Nature Center, the Friends of Santa Ana NWR, and the refuge. Training for the volunteer drivers and naturalists has taken place throughout the month of November. The tours are scheduled to begin on the day after Thanksgiving each year and continue through April. The one hour and fifteen minute tours leave the Visitor Center at 9:30 a.m., 12:00 noon, and 2:00 p.m. each day (except Christmas and New Year's Day). The cost is $3.00 for adults and $1.00 for children under 12. School tours are offered free of charge.

Border Patrol Cleans Up Refuge 25 volunteers from the Weslaco Border Patrol Office cleaned up trash along the river and several trails on November 20. Weslaco's Border Patrol Section offers several outreach programs, including a Citizen's Academy, a Community Partnership group, and an Explorer's Post. Community volunteers from these programs, along with several Border Patrol Agents, participated.

Willow Lake Area 1 Holds Water! Since a private attempt in the 1930's to make Willow 1 deeper, the wetland has leaked through a break in the underlying clay layer. Since Santa Ana became a National Wildlife Refuge in 1943, this has been a priority concern. The Friends of Santa Ana NWR, with a $1,000 contribution from the Alamo, Texas Walmart, purchased several tons of bentonite clay that has plugged the leak. The area in now a continuous haven for many of the unique bird species that birdwatchers from around the world visit South Texas to see.

Improvements to Santa Ana NWR The Visitor Center Breezeway now has an attractive cover, sky lights, and new lighting. A new brick patio, with a brick planter wall and new benches has been installed to highlight the Texas Historical Site signage in front of the Visitor Center. An additional seating area is being constructed on the side of the Visitor Center to allow visitors to sit and watch the wildlife attracted to the feeding stations and man-made pond.

Lower Rio Grande Birding Festival includes tours to Santa Ana The Rio Grande Birding Festival, the oldest nature festival in the area, was held November 11-14. Several organized tours visited Santa Ana NWR, along with many participants who toured the refuge on their own.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov
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