Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
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Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR opens Roma Bluffs World Birding Center in South Texas
Southwest Region, July 5, 2006
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Over two hundred invited guests attended the Roma Bluffs World Birding Center (WBC) ribbon-cutting event and grand opening festivities on July 5, 2006. U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett (District 25), State Senator Judith Zaffirini (District 21), and State Representative Ryan Guillen (Distict 31), along with a number of other local dignitaries spoke at the ceremony. FWS Director Dale Hall sent a video greeting that was presented to the audience, and South Texas Refuge Complex Project Leader Kenneth Merritt and Outdoor Recreation Planner/Roma WBC Manager Charles “Smokey” Cranfill also spoke at the event.

Part of a new, nine-location nature tourism initiative in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, the World Birding Center is a partnership between USFWS, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and nine local communities. Several Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR tracts bordering WBC sites will be opened to the public to support this new conservation and tourism project. The Roma WBC is the only one that will be operated by National Wildlife Refuge staff and volunteers. Located furthest west of all the WBC sites, the Roma WBC occupies recently renovated, mid-19th century buildings in the Roma Plaza, designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Roma and the surrounding area are known nationwide for outstanding wildlife diversity and birding opportunities. Tropical bird species that can only be found in the United States near Roma, including Red-Billed Pigeon, Muscovy Duck and Brown Jay, attract birders from around the world. The new Roma WBC consists of a visitor center, gift shop, environmental education classrooms, outdoor amphitheater, native plant demonstration gardens, and an observation deck on the bluffs overlooking the Rio Grande and the Mexican sister city of Miguel Alemán. With the Roma WBC’s largely Hispanic population and proximity to Mexico, interpretive exhibits, brochures and programs are offered in Spanish and English, to welcome visitors from near and far. With its blend of cultural and natural history attractions, the Roma World Birding Center expects to attract many thousands of students, residents and visitors with diverse interests in its first year of operation.

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