The Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) is one of the most biologically diverse regions in all of North America. The LRGV is one of the poorest, though fastest growing regions in the United States, increasing the urgency and importance of the creation and completion of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildife Refuge (Refuge). The Refuge's Farmland Phase-Out and Revegetation program was initiated in 1984 to restore native habitat on cropland acquired by the Refuge to form a wildlife corridor linking habitat fragments along the Rio Grand and throughout the Rio Grande delta region. Creation of this corridor benefits the unique wildlife of this subtropical region, including endangered species such as the ocelot and jaguarundi. More than 490 species of birds and about 40% of all North American butterfly species (300+ species) occur in this four county project area. Wildlife viewing and other forms of ecotourism contribute more than $100 million per year to the local economy.
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