Mustang Island State Park
Mustang Island State Park is a state park located south of the city of Port Aransas, Texas, United States on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico that covers 3,954 acres (1,600 ha) and has a 5-mile (8.0 km) beachfront. The land was acquired from private owners in 1972 and opened to the public in 1979.
The first historical record of Mustang Island was by Alonso Alvarez de Pineda, a Spanish Explorer, who charted the island in 1519. In 1747. Padre Island was part of a Spanish land grant to Padre Nicholas Balli about 1800, and the Balli family established a ranch that lasted for several decades. Records show that an Englishman named Robert A. Mercer and one H. L. Kinney both ran cattle on Mustang Island in the 1850s. A fort was built on Mustang Island during the Mexican-American War, 1846–48, to guard the entrance to Aransas Bay. During the Civil War, the coastal area was blockaded by the Union Navy, but the conflict ended with no major battles occurring in the area.
Mustang Island is a coastal barrier island dependent upon sand dunes for protection from storms and the sea. The vegetation holding the dunes in place are drought-resistant species such as sea oats, and soilbind morning glory. The island's fauna is dominated by rodents such as pocket gophers, marsh rice rats and cotton rats. Other small mammals include opossums, raccoons, striped skunks, jackrabbits, cottontail rabbits, armadillos and coyotes. Large numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds are common, as well as several species of hawks and a large variety of songbirds, most of which are migratory.
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