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      Nature Report: Sabal Palm Grove Sanctuary

      If you want to step back in time and savor what the Rio Grande wilderness used to look like then the Sabal Palm Grove Sanctuary just south of Brownsville is the place to go. The 527-acre sanctuary is owned by the National Audubon Society and managed by the Gorgas Science Foundation.

      Within the tract is a 32-acre vestige of what was once a vast palm forest stretching along the banks of the Rio Grande. Seth Patterson oversees the sanctuary and knows this unique ecosystem like no one else. Seth Patterson, "The sabal palm is the only native South Texas palm tree. Its range is actually the Rio Grande Valley along the Rio Grande and south into Mexico. This palm tree they say used to stretch up the Rio Grande from Brownsville to Mission about 60,000 acres. The say it was 80 miles up river, and it used to line the whole banks of the Rio Grande, but of course because it grew in the rich alluvial soils of the Rio Grande, when farming came to the Valley they chopped it all down. So, here in the country there is less than a 100 acres left of that original 60,000." The habitat is so rare that in the 1940's Tarzan movies were shot here. If you are interested in seeing the unique sabal palm grove, associated wetlands and restored historic Rabb plantation home the sanctuary is open seven days a week from seven until five. Patterson, "This is one of the last places you can just come out and stroll thru essentially taking a walk back in time to see what the area used to look like." With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore