World Birding Center
The World Birding Center consists of nine sites in Texas, United States along a 120-mile corridor following the Rio Grande from the city of Roma on the west to South Padre Island on the east. Its mission is to protect native habitat while increasing understanding and appreciation of birds and other wildlife.
The Center is a cooperative effort of Texas Parks and Wildlife, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the communities where the nine sites are located, and cost $20 million. The sites are: Roma Bluffs, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Quinta Mazatlan, Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Nature Park, Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, Estero Llano Grande State Park, Harlingen Arroyo Colorado, Resaca de la Palma State Park, and South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. The South Padre Island site was the last to open, in September 2009. The Center's headquarters are at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park; the building, in Mission, was named one of the top ten green designs for 2006 by the American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (AIA/COTE).
The World Birding Center was also established to aid the economy of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, which has suffered from a loss of agricultural jobs. Birders from outside the area are expected to add more than $100 million annually in tourism dollars for the Valley.
While the WBC locations offer undeniably good birding—Kenn Kaufman, a field editor for Audubon magazine, believes the Lower Rio Grande flyway offers the best year-round birdwatching in the US—and protect a large swath of imperiled habitat, many birders question the suitability of the organization's name. To many, use of the word World smacks of Texascentrism. In 2012, there was also criticism of poorly-timed removal of tall vegetation on South Padre Island, which destroyed nests of two sensitive bird species, possibly violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
- Irene Middleman Thomas, "Southern tip of Texas calls to devoted bird-watchers", Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 27, 2016.
- Elaine Glusac, "The Texas Border Draws Frequent Fliers", The New York Times, April 6, 2010.
- Daniel E. Williams, Sustainable Design: Ecology, Architecture, and Planning, Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley, 2007, ISBN 9780471709534, p. 253.
- Joey Horta, "Feathers ruffled over destroyed nests", ValleyCentral.com, April 26, 2012.
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