Nature Tourists:According to a study conducted by Texas A & M University, nature tourists inject up to $300 million dollars into the local economy of the lower Rio Grande Valley and the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is one of main reasons wildlife watchers travel to this region. In addition to providing habitat for an amazing array of species, the refuge works closely with local Chambers of Commerce and non-profit organizations to support and host nature festivals, including the Ocelot Conservation Festival which is hosted by the Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as several birding festivals.
Home Values:A national study conducted in 2012 shows that owning a home near a national wildlife refuge increases home values and helps support the surrounding community’s tax base. According to the study, homes located within half a mile of a refuge and within eight miles of an urban center were found to have higher home values. This report is the first national study to analyze national wildlife refuges’ impact on land values.
Helpful Links:An Initial Examination of the Economic Impact of Nature Tourism in the Rio Grande Valley
National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (2011) Home Values of Proximity to National Wildlife Refuges (2012)
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The ocelot is a small, spotted cat with a long tail. Visitors often confuse this wild cat with another commonly seen on the refuge -- the bobcat. The ocelot's range in the United States used to extend from South Texas up into Arkansas and Louisiana. Today, it is only found in the most southern tip of Texas where it is highly endangered due to loss of habitat.