One with Nature
Frontera Audubon preserving South Texas beauty
WESLACO — For nearly 35 years, The Frontera Audubon Society has worked to both preserve the natural beauty of South Texas and share that wonder with local residents.
The society created the 15-acre wildlife refuge at 1101 S. Texas Blvd. more than three decades ago, and since the plot of pristine land has become the site of wildlife migrations and a destination for citizens to enjoy the world around them.
Cindy Willson, the society’s executive director, is very proud of the area, including the Skaggs home that has withstood the test of time since the 1920s. The home shares the same birth year — 1927 — with the center’s Texas State Champion Sabal Palm Tree which is the state’s largest Sabal Palm and was relocated to the front of the property.
“There are things that we are doing that we have never done before,” Willson said. “We want people to know that we are more then just a birding center that people come to from other states or countries; we are here for the community.”
With the recent closing of the Sabal Palm Audubon Center in Brownsville, locals can still visit a smaller but equally interesting Sabal Palm forest at Frontera Audubon. Not only is Frontera Audubon home to animal and plant life, but organizers at the society have also dabbled into the use of artwork.
McAllen native John Haden includes a South Texas theme in his artwork, and has recently taken photos and created original paintings from inspiration gathered within the refuge. Haden’s pieces are displayed in the visitor’s center along with his stationary products.
In addition to the artwork, various locations throughout the refuge offer visitors the opportunity to sit and enjoy the natural world around them. With the sounds of chirps, croaks and trickling ponds, Willson believes the refuge offers vacation away from the hustle and bustle.
“With settings like this we hope the community comes to understand that to slow down doesn’t mean to be bored,” Willson said.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the refuge is that it is operated mostly by donations, gifts, membership fees and the work of volunteers.
“Money is always a challenge; the programs that we do are hindered by the fact that our meeting room in the visitor’s center can hold about 18 people,” Willson said. “We announce the program and we have 50 people call to make reservations and we just can’t hold them all.”
With goals of bringing in additional community members to enjoy the refuge, the society will be hosting a Tag Sale on July 24. Those who are interested can donate used items until July 18, and all proceeds will go to improving the refuge.
“We are a diamond in the rough. We do many things, but if you go downtown, some people have never even heard of us,” Willson said. “We are known among naturalists outside the area, and if we could just get the Skaggs home project off the ground we could use it for our local programs and raise awareness here in Weslaco.”
For more information on Frontera Audubon visit www.fronteraaudubon.org and appointments for donations can be set by calling (956) 968-3275.