Candy Cain Abshier WMA

Phone: (409) 736-2551
10 Parks & Wildlife Dr.
Port Arthur, TX 77640

Contact: Michael Rezsutek

Dates Open: Open year round.


The Candy Cain Abshier WMA has 207 acres located along Galveston Bay and Trinity Bay, near Smith Point in Chambers County and is one of a few public access points on the Texas coast. The WMA was given its name to honor Catherine "Candy" Cain Abshier, a former Texas Parks and Wildlife employee who promoted wetland conservation recycling and preservation of historic sites.

The land was purchased in 1990 as a nongame area and the habitat which is mostly coastal plains with a 60 acre stand of live oak and several freshwater ponds is a prime fallout habitat for migrating birds coming and going to South America. During the spring migration, the bird population increases to great numbers from migrants reaching landfall from the trans gulf migration. Although not as spectacular as the spring migration, birds congregate on the area in the fall prior to beginning of their winter migration.

Through the efforts of Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, a hawk watch tower and observation platform overlooking the bay are the center of this prominent birding center. The red-tailed hawks as well as other birds of prey make Smith Point and Candy Abshier WMA their stopping point on their annual migrations. An annual hawk watch begins each August 15 and continues until November 15. During that period, someone representing one of the supporting organizations will be present during daytime hours on most days.

Planned and supported by many national organizations, the Candy Abshier WMA, has become one of the most popular points on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail.

Ecological and Cultural Characteristics

Habitat Type: The area consists primarily of coastal prairie habitat with significant important coastal woodlot or oak mottes. Approximately 60 acres of the area are in this oak motte habitat with the remaining acreage in coastal prairie vegetation.

Rare Species: Rare/endangered/threatened species and natural communities with an occurrence record on the WMA.

Migratory Species: A diversity of bird species use Candy Abshier WMA as a stopover during migration. The migratory birds use the area both in the spring and fall for a rest site.

Uniqueness of Natural Community: Coastal prairie and oak woodlot habitats are vital for resident and migrant species of wildlife, with emphasis on management to enhance habitat needs for neotropical migrant passerine species.

Archaeological and Cultural Significance: The Smith Point area is rich in historical significance because of the location in the Galveston Bay Complex and its proximity to Fort Anahuac on the Trinity River. Portions of a tower used to survey the Galveston Bay Complex still exist on the area. At the present time no archeological investigation has been done across the entire site.

Current and Potential Use of the Site

Existing or Potential Educational Use: The Houston Audubon Society and the Ornithological Group of the Houston Outdoor Nature Club have utilized the area many times. Provide an area to educate the public on the significance of these woodlot habitats for migrating birds.

Recreational Use: Bird watching and public use of the area is an integral part of the planning and promoting of the area. The public has been encouraged to use the area whenever possible through popular articles and interviews. A Limited Public Use or Annual Public Hunting permit are required for entering the WMA.

Management Status

Management Status: The area is dedicated to the preservation and management of coastal prairie and oak woodlot habitat vital for the resident and migrant species of wildlife, with emphasis on management to enhance the habitat needs of neotropical migrant passerine species, while encouraging the utilization of the area for research, demonstration and appreciative uses compatible with sound biological management.

Existing Monitoring Activities: The use of prescribed burning is constrained by residential subdivisions on two sides of the area. A prescribed fire program that works within these constraints began in 2020 that shows promise in utilizing this important tool for habitat management.

Please Note
  • Bring your own drinking water.
  • Insect repellant is recommended for mosquitoes.
  • During April through October, high heat and humid conditions should be considered in planning a visit.
  • There aren't any restroom facilities, but public restrooms are located at a nearby public boat ramp.
  • There is no overnight camping permitted on the WMA.
  • A wildlife viewing tower is located at the edge of the bay and is wheel chair accessible.