In 1999, Yturria and his brother and sister sold 12,600 acres in Cameron County to The Conservation Fund, which became part of the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. Most recently, in 2014, The Conservation Fund, in partnership with USFWS and the Friends of the Wildlife Corridor, purchased a conservation easement on more than 7,400 acres of Yturria’s property where the presence of eight ocelots has been documented. Funding for the purchase of the conservation easement came from the sale of other, less strategic USFWS lands, as well as from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, America’s premier land conservation program. But we know there much still to do.

Like so many places in the United States, much of the native landscape across the lower Rio Grande Valley has changed dramatically over the last 30 years.  Thick brush called Tamaulipan thorn scrub (habitat for both the birds and the wild cats) was cleared to make room for agricultural and urban development.  It is estimated that 95% of the native vegetation here has been impacted. Since the mid-1980s, the South Texas Refuge Complex has made restoring Tamaulipan thorn scrub a high priority to ensure species like the ocelot and the Texas tortoise have a chance at a comeback.  They need our help.  With the support of our donors, The Conservation Fund is planting thousands of trees across the Lower Rio Grande showing that The Conservation Fund can provide full circle conservation solutions in the region.

Project Type:

Tree Planting


Additional Information:

Water: Laguna Atascosa NWR also manages the land adjacent to the Laguna Madre, which is one of seven hypersaline lagoons in the world.  It is in a key watershed area with critical wetlands.
Community: Each year, Laguna Atascosa beckons 180,000 visitors seeking opportunities to watch birds, learn about nature, hike, hunt and fish and enjoy photography.
Economy:  This refuge created nearly $30 million in local economic benefits as a result of the 180,000 visitors each year. This means that every $1 spent on this refuge leverages $37 for the local economy.
Conservation Partner: The United States Fish and Wildlife Service as a conservation partner ensures that our projects have long term stewards of the land.

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Project Description (PDF)
Growing Up Laguna