Communities Rise to the Challenge of Conservation
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Audubon Texas, partners in the Bird City Texas Initiative, are proud to announce that four communities have received certification during the inaugural application cycle. Bastrop, Dallas, Houston and Port Aransas have been recognized as the leaders in community action and bird conservation. These certified communities took action in three categories: community engagement, habitat management, and threat reduction for birds. The Bird City Texas certification lasts through 2022.
“We’re excited to join Audubon Texas in recognizing these four communities for the incredible work that they’ve done for birds, wildlife habitat, and connecting people with nature,” said TPWD Urban Wildlife Program Leader Richard Heilbrun. “It’s not easy to become a Bird City Texas community; it takes dedication and vision. We are confident that their accomplishments will lead to stronger, more resilient communities for people and birds.”
After the Bastrop County Complex Fire of 2011, Bastrop has been committed to restoring their rare Lost Pines ecosystem for birds and other wildlife that dependent on it. They have also chosen to address light pollution by being a Dark Sky Community, specifically choosing not to light a prominent bridge in town for the benefit of migratory birds.
Dallas has restored hundreds of acres of native prairies throughout their city, benefitting many grassland bird species. They have worked to reduce to the amount of pesticides used to remove invasive plants during these restoration projects. They’ve also created an innovative outreach program that provides birding backpacks for urban youth.
Houston has done a fantastic job of creating nature centers throughout their entire community, providing outreach and bird-friendly resources for a wide range of demographics. This includes providing substantial resources about bird-friendly buildings. They have also promised to increase the number of prairies that are restored within their city limits.
After Hurricane Harvey, Port Aransas committed significant resources to restore coastal ecosystems and fix damages to birding amenities caused by the storm. They clearly understand the link between bird habitat and eco-tourism, and have a brilliant nature preserve system that is managed to provide excellent bird habitat for coastal and migratory birds. They are continuing to acquire surrounding land to buffer these preserves.
By undertaking these actions, these newly certified communities help their residents and their birdlife. Bird City Texas communities can use their bird-friendly designation to attract more of Texas’ 2.2 million birdwatchers who are major drivers in the state’s $1.8 billion wildlife-viewing industry.
In the coming months, certified communities will host a variety of events to continue promoting the importance of birds and healthy habitats. We encourage interested participants to visit each community’s Chamber of Commerce website, as well as TPWD and Audubon Texas’ websites for updates.
For communities interested in applying for certification, the 2020 Bird City Texas application cycle begins in early summer. Please visit www.birdcitytexas.org for more information on how to apply for certification.
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