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      The Nature Report: Habitat Restoration

      For the first time in South Texas, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is restoring habitat on abandoned oil and gas well pads.

      The two four-acre tracts are located west of Raymondville near the Sal del Rey lake. Approximately, 36,000 native plants are being put in the ground at each site and while one area is being watered by hand, the other is a high tech green project. This is our first time to use drip irrigation or solar power to irrigate one of our restoration sites, so we are exited to see how it is going to work and we are hopeful that we will learn some lessons here that we can use in restoring habitat elsewhere in the Valley, said Mick Castillo with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. On much of their property in the Rio Grande Valley, the Fish and Wildlife Service does not own mineral rights but after oil and gas companies finish drilling a well they compensate the Service for damage done to habitat.

      These funds are now being used to procure plants, hire crews and restore the land. We are trying to set an example at Fish and Wildlife Service by going green by using as many green components as possible such as utilizing mulch, utilizing solar power and utilizing drip irrigation to conserve water, said Fish & Wildlife biologist JD Cortez.

      Since 1995, the USFW Service has restored some 8,000 acres throughout the Valley.

      As they continue to improve their technique, more vital habitat will become available for wildlife.