BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) - This week's federal plan to waive
environmental protection laws for the border fence spells almost
certain doom for two South Texas nature preserves.
The entire Sabal Palm Audubon Center and most of The Nature
Conservancy's Lennox Foundation Southmost Preserve would end up in
the no-man's land between the fence and Mexico.
The preserves have supported a growing ecotourism business in an
economically struggling Lower Rio Grande Valley.
The Audubon center attracts 10,000 visitors a year - primarily
birders -to its 557 acres east of Brownsville. Trails wind through
more than 30 acres of rare sabal palm forest.
The federal plans mean the last native sabal palm groves that
once blanketed thousands of acres along the Rio Grande will be
ceded to the Mexican side of the fence.
Fence planners have suggested they could add an access gate for
its property, but the Audubon Society has dismissed that as
unworkable once the preserve is behind a steel fence.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)