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Great Texas Birding Classic Winnings Fund Conservation
AUSTIN, Texas — With 320 species identified, the Environmental Partners birding team, sponsored by Reliant Energy, racked up its third consecutive first-place finish at the 11th annual Great Texas Birding Classic hosted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory.
Each year, winning teams allocate prize money to fund Texas wildlife habitat conservation and restoration projects approved by the Birding Classic staff.
Seven coastal habitat projects will share $73,000 from contributions by corporate sponsors, team entry fees, community and individual donations, and a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Texas Coastal Program.
“A number of the projects this year are restoration projects on land that has already been set aside,” said Carol Jones, Education Program Manager for the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. “A common thread among several projects this year is to remove invasive, nonnative species and replace them with native flora that better support birds and wildlife.”
For example, Jones said the Bushnell-sponsored Butcherbirds team, who placed third in this year’s competition, donated their $10,000 in prize money to the Texas City Prairie Preserve in Galveston County to remove a nonnative plant that is threatening to drive the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken to extinction.
Funds were also donated to purchase land for future conservation and restoration efforts.
The Environmental Partners have allocated their $20,000 first-place prize to the Columbia Bottomlands Conservation Project for the acquisition of key tracts of migratory bird habitat. Already, the project has conserved more than 14,000 acres of prime avian habitat.
To date, the Great Texas Birding Classic has raised $578,000 for wildlife conservation efforts along the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail.
“The Birding Classic has helped raise awareness that we need to preserve wildlife habitat not only for our resident birds, but also for our migratory birds to rest and refuel,” said Jones.
Other projects funded with prize money from the Great Texas Birding Classic include the following:
- $10,000 from the second-place Cranes Team, sponsored by ConocoPhillips, will go to the Goose Island Walkway to Wetland Wildlife project to construct and 85-foot-long walkway for public access to the western half of Goose Island State Park.
- $10,000 from the Lower Coast winners, the Swarovski-sponsored Roadside Hawks, will go to the Sabal Palm Audubon Center to restore wildlife habitat in Cameron County near Brownsville.
- In Nueces County near Corpus Christi, the Packery Channel Sanctuary Habitat will receive $10,000 from the LSU Tiger-Heron team, sponsored by Zeiss, winners of the Central Coast region. Proceeds will help restore habitat that is native to the barrier island.
- The winners from the Upper Coast, the TAMUG Xtreme Birding Team, sponsored by AEP Texas, will donate their $10,000 prize winnings toward restorations on the Horseshoe Marsh Prairie in Port Bolivar, Galveston County.
- The $3,000 prize for the Lone Star Bird Award, won by the Nikon and WildBird magazine-sponsored WildBirders team, will go to the Coastal Sanctuary Understory Diversification project, which aims to remove invasive species from coastal lands in Chambers County.
For more information on the Great Texas Birding Classic, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Web site.
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