The Border Wall and the Ecology of South Texas

The Border Wall and the Ecology of South Texas

Friday, April 12, 2019 -
11:00am to 2:00pm CDT
Sabal Palm Sanctuary
8435 Sabal Palm Grove Rd., Brownsville, TX 78521
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At the Texas Environmental Grantmakers Group's (TEGG) spring meeting, hear about the potential environmental impacts by the move to physically secure our southern border. 

Cradled in the bend of the Rio Grande, Sabal Palm Sanctuary is a 557-acre preserve, home to one of the last stands of old-growth Sabal Palm forest in the country as well as one of the few remaining historic river plantations in the region. it is estimated that there were once over 60,000 acres of native Sabal Palm forest lining the banks of the Rio Grande. Today, due to clearing the land for agricultural usage, fewer than 100 acres remain.

Now referrred to as the Rabb Plantation, the property was originally known as the Rancho San Tomas. In the 1970s, the acreage around the Queen Anne style house built in 1892 -- the former working headquarters of the plantation -- was conveyed to the National Audubon Society and established as a wildlife sanctuary. In 2010, after the Sanctuary had been closed for two years, the Gorgas Science Foundation (GSF) entered into an agreement with Audubon to take over management and reopen the Sanctuary. In 2013, GSF completed restoration of the Rabb Plantation house which now serves as the visitors center, headquarters for the Sanctuary and GSF.

  • Larry Lof is president and CEO of the Gorgas Science Foundation. Through GSF, he has developed and managed the publication of award-winning books and film documentaries. In South Texas, he worked to reopen Sabal Palm Sanctuary and restore the historic Rabb Plantation House. He is leading the effort to restore many of the buildings in the historic downtown and Market Square areas of Brownsville. He has received state and national recognition for his restoration work. In 2013 he has awarded professor emeritus status at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in 2013.
  • Marianna Treviño-Wright is executive director of the National Butterfly Center, a flagship project of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA). NABA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation and stuy of wild butterflies in their native habitats. The National Buggerly Center showcases live animals and plants, in wild and cultivated settions, with educational exhibits to enhance human uderstanding and appreciation. This large-scale project is designed to ensure that the beautiful landscape and wildlife we might take for granted will be here for future generations to enjoy.
  • Sonia Najera is project director - South Texas for The Nature Conservancy.

An OPTIONAL TOUR following the meeting will allow participants to tour the Sanctuary.

For those who would like to come in early, Sandra Skrei, TEGG member and trustee with the Malcolm C. Damuth Foundation is working on organizing a meeting and tour with Sister Norma of a respite center from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in McAllen and dinner with Elisa Filippone of the Brownsville Tias at 7:30. Please indicate if you are interested when you register and Sandra will keep you informed as details of these additional events are confirmed.


Suggestions for possible lodging in Brownsville for those arriving on Thursday are listed below. Both are about a 30-minute drive from Sabal Palms.

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