HIGH ISLAND, Texas (AP) — A conservation group's purchase of 1,350 undeveloped beachfront acres will help expand a haven for migrating birds and other wildlife in Southeast Texas.
The Conservation Fund for Texas on Friday completed the purchase on Bolivar Peninsula, preserving one of the last remaining large tracts of undeveloped land in the area, the Houston Chronicle reported. The seller was PNL Companies, a Dallas-based real estate investment firm, in a $3.8 million deal, according to the Galveston County Daily News.
The land, formerly part of the Cade Ranch planned development, will be transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The spread will become part of the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, a vast area of costal marsh and prairie bordering Galveston Bay.
The Texas General Land Office used royalties from offshore drilling to help buy 350 of the acres, habitat including wetlands, tidal flats, ponds and Gulf coast beachfront, said Jim Suydam, a spokesman for the agency, told the Houston Chronicle. "It will help protect one of the largest undeveloped tracts on Bolivar permanently," Suydam said.
The Conservation Fund next year plans to acquire additional Cade Ranch land as funding allows, said Andy Jones, director of the fund's Texas office.
The group hopes to use money available through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment program set up after the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Tar balls and oil reached Bolivar Peninsula, which is known for its abundance and diversity of shorebirds. The Cade Ranch site is an extremely important migratory bird habitat, Jones told the Daily News.
Because of its exceptional wetland habitat for migratory birds and waterfowl, Cade Ranch was a high priority acquisition for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jones said. Residential and commercial development in an area so vulnerable to storms can be costly to taxpayers when it comes to catastrophe cleanup, Jones said.
"We won't have to continue paying for catastrophic events," he said.