Lower Rio Grande Valley
National Wildlife Refuge
|3325 Green Jay Road
Alamo, TX 78516
Phone Number: 956-784-7500
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Continued . . . The year 1749 marked the entrance of Spanish colonists and the end to a landscape where humans lived with little impact on nature. That year, José de Escandón founded the first settlement, Camargo. The Spanish brought herd animals. They cleared, plowed and farmed lands. Wild animals sensitive to disturbance - like bears and jaguars - vanished. The native peoples were displaced as well.
The Spanish government soon awarded land grants for homesteading. These grants would much later play a key role in the efforts to preserve and restore a natural corridor. Today, the Spanish heritage remains a strong force visible in the local culture, as well as in the architecture, plazas and churches.
Soon after the U.S. annexed Texas in 1845, American steamships plied the lower Rio Grande, engaged in profitable trade. Railroads replaced steamers in the early 1900s. Farming utilized mechanized irrigation that boosted agriculture, but started the de-watering of the river as well. Falcon Dam was completed in 1953 to provide more reliable water for farm fields and citrus orchards. The dam also flooded river forests and historic towns.
In 1979, to protect the tremendous biological diversity of this region, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Today, agencies, non-profit organizations and private landowners on both sides of the Rio Grande are working hard to ensure the habitat and biodiversity of this region will be around for many more centuries.
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