Ocelot, an endangered species whose habitat is being restored with this project. Credit: Dan Bodenstein

Project Name:
Farmland Phase Out and Re-Vegetation of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Widllife Refuge

Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Key Activities:

  • Planting 33,350 trees across 42 acres
  • Reforesting an ecosystem affected by forest fragmentation
  • Restoring wildlife habitat

Project Description:
American Forests and Friends of the Wildlife Corridor are partnering for the 16th year to continue reforesting areas of Texas’ Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge to improve wildlife habitat. This year’s project is planting more than 33,000 trees across 42 acres.

Why This Project:
Texas’ Lower Rio Grande Valley is one of the most biologically diverse places in North America. It is home to more than 530 species of birds, 40 percent of North America’s butterfly species, 1,200 plant species and 17 threatened or endangered species, including ocelot and jaguarundi.

The crux of this project is to reconnect forest fragments, which bolsters wildlife habitat, by reclaiming agricultural land. Approximately 31 species of trees are being planting on former cropland as part of this year’s reforestation work.

Why Ocelot and Jaguarundi:
Since the 1970s, ocelot and jaguarundi have been endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Both big cats can only be found in the Southwest along the U.S.-Mexico border. The ocelot population had dwindled to less than 50 before a recovery in the last few years to around 80 to 100 ocelot in the U.S. Ocelot and jaguarundi require dense, thorny shrublands for habitat, which became rarer and rarer in the Southwest as they were converted to agricultural purposes.

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