Concerns linger around Arroyo Colorado and Natural Habitat

Tucked right in the middle of the City of Harlingen you'll find the Arroyo Colorado.

Keith Hackland is the President of Friends of the Wildlife Corridor and tells Action 4 News, "The arroyo is very special here in the Valley, Harlingen is the only city in the Valley that has a river running through it".

Hackland's organization advocates for the preservation of wildlife habitat.

Hackland says Harlingen is the center of the birding industry in the Valley.

"We have people coming from all over the world through out the year to bird watch here. This is a big industry that brings a lot of money to the Valley", said Hackland.

Hackland's fear is the habitat around the Arroyo Colorado will be destroyed.

Conservation groups are concerned the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission could clear the forest area from the banks for the arroyo.

The commission is hosting a public meeting later this week.

"We don't know what the plan is a plan hasn't been published so this is an opportunity for the public to let the IBWC know about the fact that we care for this river, and we care for the forest that runs along it", said Hackland.

The Friends of the Wildlife Corridor are set to bring even more eco-tourists to Harlingen.

Right now plans are in the works to host regular canoe trips down the Arroyo Colorado.

Sally Spencer, spokesperson for the IBWC tells Action 4 News the Commission is always working to find the appropriate balance between environmental preservation and flood control.

That is certainly what we are working to do in the Arroyo Colorado. Spencer also says the Commission is working closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that any vegetation maintenance done in the Arroyo Colorado to reduce flood risk does not harm habitat for threatened or endangered species.

The IBWC is also working on an updated hydraulic model to help develop a long-term management plan for the Arroyo Colorado taking into account the latest data about conveyance capacity.

The process the Commission is undertaking now will help guide what vegetation maintenance should be undertaken to protect Harlingen from flooding in the Arroyo Colorado.

There is concern about flood risk due to higher-than-expected water surface elevations in the Arroyo Colorado during last year's flood.

The IBWC is hosting a Citizen's Forum this Wednesday March 23rd from 4 to 6pm.

The meeting will be held inside the IBWC conference room located at 325 Golf Course Road in Mercedes.