Ad Hoc World Birding Center Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., June 2, 1999

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Subject Public Hearing
Agenda Item No.
1. World Birding Center Update
Staff: Gary Graham
Committee Only

Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Gary Graham

Ad Hoc World Birding Center Committee
June 1999

I. Discussion: The World Birding Center (WBC) is a community-based conservation and regional ecotourism project under development in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Its purpose is to promote additional resource conservation and further develop a $100-million (annual) avitourism industry. Communities have responded to the Department's Request for Proposals with extraordinary interest and significant local funds. The Department, as well as an independent Blue Ribbon Panel, have reviewed proposal packages and completed on-site previews. The Appropriations Conference Committee has recently recommended a significant start-up budget for the WBC that we anticipate will be approved by the 76th Legislature. Up to $2 million of the start-up capital funds could go to each of the three main sites (adjacent to Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park where the Headquarters will be located, Brownsville, and Weslaco). Up to an additional $500,000 in matching funds could go to the two other sites (Edinburg and Harlingen) that were in the original group of five sites proposed for the Headquarters. The amounts going to each of these five sites will be proportional to the local funds contributed to the WBC effort. Staff will brief the Commission on the process, WBC center concepts, proposal highlights and current status.