Throughout the year, we will highlight one of our many conservation efforts in the Rio Grande Valley. This is designed to show you what VLF is working on at any given time. As members and concerned conservationists you have the right to know what projects and conservation initiatives we’re engaged in, and our “Conservation Spotlight” is just one way for VLF to show you what we’re doing to protect our native wildlife habitat here in the Valley.

Salineno Restoration Project

In 2010, VLF was awarded the Lower Coast Conservation Grant by the Great Texas Birding Classic for the Salineno Enhancement Project. Our Salineno wildlife preserve is a small, private, 2.6 acre tract of native wildlife habitat along the Rio Grande just north of Roma, TX in Starr County. Damage from Hurricane Alex and heavy summer flooding left the preserve in disrepair this year. Funds from the grant will be used to, among other things, clean up the property, remove and control invasive grasses, and re-introduce native South Texas vegetation. The Lower Coast Conservation Grant was made possible in 2010 by the Redcrowns team and the Harlingen Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In October, VLF began phase one of the extended conservation reclamation project on the site. Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Friends of the Wildlife Corridor group, World Birding Center sites, and others, VLF has engaged in the clean-up and restoration of its Salineno preserve. Over the weekend of October 22-24, VLF volunteers gathered with FWS agents and volunteer fire fighters to begin cleaning up the property. The result was a huge success. VLF staff has since met with FWS representatives to determine target areas of the property for invasive species control and native plant restoration.

The project, which will run through 2011, marks the first time in several years that VLF has partnered with so many other conservation groups on one single project. “This project demonstrates that Federal, State, and local organizations can leverage their knowledge, skills, and resources to achieve a goal and meet a local need,” said VLF President, Jim Tabak. “All parties involved in this effort should be proud of the work that will be accomplished through this enhancement project.”

Bryan Winton, FWS Refuge Manager for the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, agreed. “The partnership between Valley Land Fund for management of the Salineno/Kepler Tract site is exceptional. Working together, non-profits, federal, state, and private partners are all required to “think outside the box” so that we can get the biggest bang for our conservation buck. Our partnership exemplifies just that.”

New VLF sign near the Salineno entrance

Fish & Wildlife Service lends a hand

Salineno volunteers take a break