for the birds

Houston Audubon nets crucial Gulf Coast land for millions of migratory birds

Houston Audubon nets crucial Gulf Coast land for migratory birds

North Deer Island
Birds flock to North Deer Island. Photo courtesy of Houston Audobon

After seven years of persistence by a local organization, some 643 acres of coastal prairie, wetlands, and beach habitat surrounding High Island has been preserved for the Gulf Coast.

Houston Audubon has finalized the purchase of two key land transactions at the end of 2020 from BP America, which places the coastal acres under permanent conservation protection, the nonprofit announced.

As enthusiasts are no doubt aware, the High Island region is especially important to millions of birds that breed, winter, and stopover to rest and refuel during migration. This annual journey draws birdwatchers who travel from far and wide each year to the Gulf Coast. 

Plans for the acreage include an interpreted Gulf Habitats Nature Trail that will connect Houston Audubon’s Boy Scout Woods Bird Sanctuary to the Gulf of Mexico beach, according to a press release. This trail will pass through hundreds of acres of protected and restored land; meanwhile, forest, coastal prairie, freshwater marsh, high tidal marsh, low tidal marsh, and the Gulf of Mexico will be available to explore within a one-mile span.

The crucial acquisition comes courtesy of Gene  Graham and the Land Rescue Fund.

Houston Audubon was also gifted 40 acres of North Deer Island from Brown/Trueheart, Ltd., the organization announced. The 120- acre colonial waterbird island in West Galveston Bay is considered an important nesting island on the Upper Texas Coast. It plats a major role in the recovery of the endangered Brown Pelican  and providing safe nesting for 19 waterbird species, the group notes.

“These two acquisitions are major conservation victories for the Texas Coast,” says Dr. Richard  Gibbons, Houston Audubon’s conservation director, in a statement. “The 603 acres in eastern Galveston County are comprised of several parcels adjacent to Houston Audubon’s current sanctuaries and provide  connectivity with the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge. Much of this  land has been worked hard and we are excited to begin the restoration process to optimize these  habitats for wildlife and people.”