The protection of the habitat in the Lower Rio Grande Valley has been a top conservation priority. In 2021, we helped the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) add roughly 4,800 acres of coastal habitat to the Laguna Atascosa NWR. This addition was comprised of two key properties known as Holly Beach and Dulaney Farms. Their protection helps advance the USFWS’s goals of climate resiliency, endangered species habitat protection, and recreational opportunities like hunting, fishing and bird watching.

“Coastal habitat conservation is critical to ensuring that our native wildlife and coastal communities remain resilient in the face of climate change, sea level rise, and the increased demand for land and water.”

—USFWS’s Southwest Regional Director Amy Lueders

The land is home to several federally endangered species including five species of sea turtles, ocelots, jaguarundis and nesting northern aplomado falcons. It also protects foraging habitat for migratory birds such as gull-billed terns, black skimmers, reddish egrets, piping plover, mottled duck and red knot.

In 2014, a ranching family in south Texas made an extraordinary effort to do their part in supporting this declining habitat. In the 1980s, Dr. Frank Yturria began working with The Conservation Fund and the USFWS to protect parts of his ranch property that contained critical ocelot and aplomado falcon habitat. Through land sales, land donations and conservation easements, he is responsible for the preservation of nearly 25,800 acres in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Dr. Frank Yturria and the previous owners of Holly Beach and Dulaney Farms show what kind of impact individuals can make. Private landowners play a vital part in conservation, especially in Texas, where more than 94 percent of land is privately owned. By making habitat conservation a priority, we get one step closer helping these beloved endangered species thrive.