Texas Almanac, 1992-1993 Page: 82
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National Wildlife Refuges
In addition to the many state and national parks that
can be reached from most major cities in Texas, there
are 14 national wildlife refuges that may be visited at dif-
ferent times of the year for bird watching and wildlife
viewing. It is best to write before visiting to check on fa-
cilities available and to be sure the refuge is open to vis-
itors at that time. Addresses are given at the end of the
description of each refuge.
Texas has more than 250,000 acres set aside in its 14
national wildlife refuges. Short sketches of each are
given below from information supplied by the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
The more than 28,000 acres of this refuge are located
along the upper Texas Gulf Coast in Chambers County.
The fresh and saltwater marshes and miles of beautiful,
sweeping coastal prairie provide wintering habitat for
large concentrations of geese and other waterfowl. The
peregrine falcon and bald eagle, both endangered spe-
cies, also find protection on the refuge. Other species of
interest include the alligator, mottled duck, wood stork
and least tern. Fishing, bird watching and waterfowl
hunting are available. Address: Box 278, Anahuac 77514.
Located midway between Rockport and Port Lavaca
on the Gulf Coast eight miles southeast of Austwell, this
refuge comprises 58,763 acres of oak woodlands, fresh
and saltwater marshes and coastal grasslands. Besides
providing wintering grounds for the endangered whoop-
ing crane, the refuge is home to deer, javelina, alligator
and many other species of wildlife. Bird life abounds
from late fall to early May. A visitor center, open daily
from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., offers information and inter-
pretive exhibits. Other facilities include an observation
tower, picnic area, paved auto tour route and walking
trails. Entrance fee. Address: Box 100, Austwell 77950.
Phone (512)286-3559. Information about the opportunities
available at nearby Matagorda Island, a coastal barrier
island managed jointly with the Texas Parks and Wild-
life Department, can also be obtained from this address.
Attwater Prairie Chicken
Established on July 1, 1972, to preserve habitat for
the endangered Attwater's prairie chicken, the refuge
comprises 7,980 acres of land consisting of native prairie,
potholes, sandy knolls and some wooded areas. A 12-mile
auto tour route is available year-round, and 350 acres of
marsh are accessible for fall and winter birding. Blind
and guided tours are available to observe the prairie
chickens from February 1 through April 30. Hours of
access to the refuge vary by season. Address: Box 518,
Eagle Lake 77434. Phone (409)234-3021.
This refuge was established on 4,377 acres of coastal
prairie and salt marsh along East Matagorda Bay on the
Gulf Coast for the benefit of wintering waterfowl,
attracting thousands of ducks and geese to its ponds and
potholes. The refuge is generally closed, and visitors are
encouraged to visit nearby San Bernard or Brazoria ref-
uges. Waterfowl hunting is permitted in season.
Address: Box 1088, Angleton 77515. Phone (409)849-6062.
The almost 40,854 acres of this refuge, located along
the Gulf coast in Brazoria County, serve as nesting area
for mottled ducks. The refuge also supports many marsh
and water birds, from roseate spoonbills and great blue
herons to white ibis and sandhill cranes. Brazoria Refuge
is within the Freeport Christmas Bird Count circle, which
frequently achieves the highest number of species seen
in a 24-hour period. The refuge has an open house the
first weekend of every month throughout the year, when
visitors can drive the refuge tour route to observe wild-
life in a coastal environment. Fishing is permitted, as
well as waterfowl hunting in season; however, access for
these activities is by boat only. Address: Box 1088,
Angleton 77515. Phone (409)849-6062.
Comprising about 8,000 acres in Randall County in
the Panhandle, this refuge has been one of the major wa-
terfowl refuges in the Central Flyway. At present, the
lake is dry, with the dam and spillway needing major re-
habilitation. When water is available in this semi-arid
environment, the refuge's marshes and lake provide a
resting and feeding area for migrating waterfowl. Activ-
ities available include picnicking, sightseeing, birding,
nature study, photography and camping. Entrance fee.
Address: Box 228, Umbarger 79091. Phone (806)499-3382.
Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge lies on the Big
Mineral arm of Texoma Lake in Grayson County. The
11,320 acres provide a feeding and resting place for mi-
grating waterfowl. The refuge includes 3,000 acres of
marsh and water and 8,000 acres of farmland, grassland
and woodlands. Bird watching and fishing are the most
popular activities. Hunting is permitted during limited
seasons in designated areas. Address: Rt. 3, Box 123,
Sherman 75090-9564. Phone (214)786-2826.
Established in 1946 as southernmost waterfowl ref-
uge in the Central Flyway, this refuge contains more
than 45,000 acres fronting on the Laguna Madre in the
Lower Rio Grande Valley. Its open lagoons, coastal prai-
ries, salt flats and brushlands support large numbers of
wintering ducks, including the United States' largest con-
centration of wintering redheads. White-tailed deer, jave-
lina, armadillo and Texas tortoise can be found, along
with the rare ocelot. Bird watching and nature study are
popular, with migratory birds present in the winter and
exotic Mexican birds year-round. Saltwater fishing is per-
mitted in the Harlingen Ship Channel. Bow and rifle
hunts are held most years for deer and feral hogs. En-
trance fee. Address: Box 450, Rio Hondo 78583. Phone
Lower Rio Grande Valley
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is slowly acquir-
ing land in the Lower Rio Grande Valley for a new na-
tional refuge, which will encompass some 107,500 acres
within the four-county area of Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr
and Willacy counties. Area acquired for the refuge will
include 10 different habitat types, including sabal palm
forest, tidal flats, coastal brushland, mid-delta thorn for-
est, woodland potholes and basins, upland thorn scrub,
flood forest, barretal, riparian woodland and Chihuahu-
an thorn forest. At least 115 unique vertebrate species
that are listed as endangered, threatened, or which
occur at the periphery of their range call the area home.
Funds to purchase lands for the refuge come from the
Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, whose
monies come from sale of Outer Continental Shelf oil
and gas leases, taxes on motorboat fuels and the sale of
certain surplus federal lands. For more information,
contact Santa Ana/ Lower Rio Grande Valley National
Wildlife Refuges, Rt. 2, Box 202A, Alamo 78516. Phone
Purchased in 1979 and 1980 with duck stamp reve-
nues, this refuge's 42,955 acres are of great importance
to wintering populations of migratory waterfowl. The
endangered southern bald eagle and peregrine falcon are
rare visitors, but may occasionally be seen during peak
fall and spring migrations. One of the densest pop-
ulations of alligators in Texas is found here. Activities on
the refuge include wildlife observation, waterfowl hunt-
ing, fishing, crabbing, swimming, camping and picnick-
ing. Address: Box 609, Sabine Pass 77655. Phone (409)971-
Oldest of national refuges in Texas, Muleshoe pro-
vides winter habitat for waterfowl and the continent's
largest wintering population of sandhill cranes. Compris-
ing 5,809 acres in the high plains of Bailey County, the
refuge consists of three playa lakes, marsh areas, cali-
che outcroppings and native grasslands. Tour roads are
available as well as a prairie dog town, nature trail,
campground and picnic area. Address: Box 549, Mule-
shoe 79347. Phone (806)946-3341.
Located on the Gulf of Mexico near Freeport, this
refuge's nearly 25,000 acres attract migrating waterfowl,
including thousands of snow geese, which spend the win-
ter on the refuge. Habitats consist of coastal prairies,
salt/mud flats and saltwater and freshwater ponds
and potholes. Visitors enjoy photography and bird
watching; fishing is permitted, as well as waterfowl
hunting in season. A special permit waterfowl hunt is
conducted three days per week. Contact refuge office
TEXAS ALMANAC 1992-1993
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Kingston, Mike. Texas Almanac, 1992-1993, book, 1991; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth279642/m1/86/: accessed October 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.