Hispanic Access Foundation is honored to announce its selection for The Salazar Center's inaugural Peregrine Accelerator for Conservation Impact cohort for the Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Refuge project. Through this support, Hispanic Access, with the help of its network members, will work towards establishing a wildlife refuge in Southeast Texas between the border wall and the Rio Grande, while advancing Latino grassroots leadership in local conservation efforts and increasing access to recreation opportunities.
“For more than a decade, Hispanic Access has catapulted our trust-based community networks into action by providing access, capacity, and the belief to create beneficial changes in their communities,” said Hispanic Access’ President and CEO Maite Arce. “From advocating for environmental justice to protecting waters and public lands, we've supported community leaders as they decide what is best for themselves, we design solutions together, and advocate for change.”
In Southeastern Texas, the Rio Grande flows to the Gulf of Mexico and marks the border between the US and Mexico. The border wall has been built to the north of the Rio Grande, separating the border communities of Texas from the river and enclosing a beautiful, wild riverside zone. The Lower Rio Grande Valley hosts a documented 1,200 plants, 300 butterflies, and approximately 700 vertebrates, of which at least 520 are birds. The Rio Grande Valley also hosts a high concentration of Latino residents, with 93.5 percent of people identifying as Hispanic or Latino. Latino communities in the border region are overwhelmingly facing the Nature Gap – the destruction of nature nearby to them, and a lack of accessible parks and green space. In Laredo, TX, there is a water crisis impacting these communities but there is also a lack of awareness in the community.
“We are thrilled to receive this support from The Salazar Center to equip our community networks and bring them toward the forefront of this campaign to engage local governments, partner organizations, and tribal communities to establish the Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Refuge,” said Arce. “Protecting this area as a wildlife refuge would give nature access to thousands of Texans and protect the natural resources of the riverine ecosystem. For the proposed Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Refuge, our vision is to achieve permanent protection for the biologically and culturally rich lands of the Rio Grande Valley.”
The cohort includes eight other project teams with promising innovative conservation solutions for the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo basin, as part of the Salazar Center for North American Conservation. The Salazar Center works to connect diverse leaders, communities, and resources across the North American continent to accelerate the pace and scale of equitable, innovative, and durable conservation solutions for nature and all people.