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      Nature Report: XXI Rio Reforestation

      More than 600 enthusiastic volunteers participated in the recent 21st annual Rio Reforestation sponsored by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Valley Proud Environmental Council.

      This year's event took place on U.S. Fish and Wildlife property west of Brownsville near the Rio Grande and volunteers from throughout the Valley helped replant native brush on the Garza-Cavazos tract.

      Jennifer Owen White, Manager at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, said, "We are working with a little over a 14 acre tract and putting in close to 12,000 plants today of 32 different species."

      This popular reforestation effort provides critical habitat for wildlife and contributes to the Valleys 463 million-dollar annual ecotourism revenues.

      Georgina Matz, Chairman Valley Proud Environmental Council, said, "We are high in nature tourism. If you don't have the habitat you don't have the critters, you don't have the birds, and if you don't have the critters and birds you don't have the people coming to spend their money to se them."

      "It is important to be here because it shows that we care about the environment and that we care about species and their habitat," said Marisela Diaz.

      Tomas Franco, said, "It is also helping the environment and the world. At least we are all doing our part in helping."

      "I think ocelot and many, many other species particularly birds can benefit from habitat restoration here in South Texas. It is just important that as we take care of our needs that we take care of the wildlife that we have down here," said Jesus Franco.