78R19302 MMS-D

By:  Hughes                                                       H.R. No. 1719

WHEREAS, The City of Mineola is developing the Mineola Preserve on the Sabine River to protect and enhance a richly diverse natural area; and WHEREAS, Containing 2,921 acres, the preserve offers an unusual opportunity for birders to view, within the boundaries of one site, the avian fauna of several different East Texas ecotypes; visitors to the Mineola Preserve can wander through a patchwork landscape composed of uplands, lowland pastures, young bottomland and mature bottomland forests, and successional woodlands; and WHEREAS, This wide range of habitat and vegetation types is capable of attracting as many as 218 different species of birds; to date, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has verified the occurrence of 75 species, and it is continuing verification work at the site to develop a comprehensive listing; and WHEREAS, Among the native or migratory species present at the preserve may be some that are now considered to be "threatened"; one such species is the swallow-tailed kite, a bird listed by TPWD as threatened in Texas and a species of concern for bird initiatives in the Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture; swallow-tailed kites have been observed at the nearby Old Sabine Bottom Wildlife Management Area, making it highly likely that they can be sighted in the Mineola Preserve; and WHEREAS, A master plan for conserving and promoting the area is in development by several governmental and nongovernmental organizations, including Ducks Unlimited and the Audubon Society; and WHEREAS, In order to make the tract and its treasures accessible to the public, amenities will include a variety of trails and a number of wildlife viewing stations; complementing the gravel trails will be a two-mile-long all-weather path along a raised, abandoned railroad bed, which traverses each of the preserve's ecotypes; discussion is also underway regarding the possibility of establishing an Audubon Center at the site; and WHEREAS, The Mineola Preserve has been nominated for inclusion on the new Prairies and Pineywoods Wildlife Trail; a project of the TPWD, the trail is designed to help travelers find the best wildlife-viewing sites in North and East Texas; and WHEREAS, Affording ample opportunities for recreation, inspiration, and research to all who cherish the out-of-doors, the Mineola Preserve constitutes an exceptionally valuable asset to birders, and the City of Mineola is committed to protecting this property for the education and enjoyment of all Texans and visitors to the Lone Star State; now, therefore, be it RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 78th Texas Legislature hereby recognize Mineola as the Birding Capital of East Texas.