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Estero Llano Grande State Park & the World Birding Center

Story and photos by Martha E. Ibarra/LFN

Now that Spring has officially begun it is the perfect time to get out and see all that nature has to offer the Rio Grande Valley. The Estero Llano Grande State Park, located in Weslaco, draws an array of South Texas Wildlife. According to park rangers, the park is home to about 300 kinds of butterflies, rare plants, and visitors can sometimes catch a glimpse of bobcats, alligators and bats. At over 230 acres, the varied landscape of shallow lake, woodlands and thorn forest is also home to about 500 species of birds, 30 of which can only be found in the Rio Grande Valley.

Estero Llano Grande is a part of the World Birding Center (WBC), a network of nine sites along 120 miles of river road from South Padre Island west to Roma. The habitats along the 120 miles range from dry chaparral brush to freshwater marshes and coastal wetlands. The goal of the WBC is to attract beginner birders as well as advanced birders. With viewing stations, such as watching towers and more, the WBC strives to educate the public about the various species that can only be found in the Rio Grande Valley.

Estero Llano Grande is not only visited by locals but by tourists from all over the nation. Bird watching, a national past time, has tourists spending millions of dollars each year for the opportunity to see species exclusive only to the Valley. Through ecotourism the Valley is able to benefit from the tourism revenue and the wildlife benefits from the protected lands.

Estero Llano Grande is located at 3301 S International Blvd FM 1015 in Weslaco. The park hosts daily hikes as well as various events throughout the year targeted at all ages. Children have the opportunity to go on a nature hike and participate in other activities centered on educating and providing the opportunity to observe nature. Events such as night hikes, and weekend camping adventures allow the public to experience and partake in all nature has to offer the Rio Grande Valley.

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