Houston Audubon has enthusiastically supported the "Austin's Woods Conservation Plan" led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to preserve the bottomland hardwood forests south of Houston known as the Columbia Bottomlands. Houston Audubon has raised money in various ways to contribute towards the purchase of land in this area of critical stopover and staging habitat for Nearctic-Neotropical migratory landbirds. Acquisitions are added to the San Bernard NWR (SBNWR), a 43,500-acre complex that spans the Colorado, San Bernard, and Brazos River floodplains.
2005 - Houston Audubon donors contributed towards the acquisition of a new addition to SBNWR, the Linville Bayou Unit. Houston Audubon worked in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Trust for Public Land to acquire 720-acres of old-growth forest. Linville Bayou's habitat is unique, diverse, and extremely important to both forest-breeding and neotropical migrating birds.
2006 - Houston Audubon raised $50,000 towards the purchase of a 50-acre addition to the Linville Bayou Unit, increasing the new refuge to 770 acres.
2006 - Houston Audubon partnered ($ 3,750) with the USFWS and several other environmental organizations for restoration of coastal prairie remnants at the Parker and Buffalo Creek Units. These tracts were added to the refuge complex through the Austin's Woods Conservation Project. Houston Audubon's staff and volunteers participate in over-wintering grassland bird surveys at both units.
2007 - Houston Audubon's Great Texas Birding Classic (GTBC) conservation project was selected as the $20,000 prize money winner. The funds helped close on the purchase of a 47-acre addition to the Hudson Woods Unit of SBNWR. The Sebok tract is across Oyster Creek from the main Hudson Woods Unit and will assure wildlife habitat protection on both sides of the creek in an area experiencing rapid residential development.
2008 - Houston Audubon partnered with the USFWS and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to acquire the 36-acre Theodore Smith Unit, a tidally influenced, forested estuary that is important to migratory birds in their movement from coastal marshes to interior regions of the Columbia Bottomlands.
Houston Audubon raised $30,000 that was matched with $26,000 from its HAS Land Rescue Fund for a total donation in support of the Smith Tract in 2008 in the amount of $56,000.
2009 - Houston Audubon's Great Texas Birding Classic (GTBC) conservation project was selected as a $3,000 prize money winner. The project, chosen by the TAMU Galveston WildBirders, was to acquire additional acreage to the Bird Pond Unit of the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. We then partnered with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to acquire a 28-acre addition to the Unit, using Great Texas Birding
Classic prize money and matching funds from the Houston Audubon
Land Rescue Fund. The pond at Bird Pond covers approximately 80%
of the 100-acre tract. Acquiring this property will provide a buffer zone
around this important wetland and will allow for a nature trail. The Bird
Pond Unit is an important breeding and overwintering component
of the Columbia Bottomlands. Bird Pond is a site with extensive
populations of wintering waterfowl that include Priority Species from
the Texas Wildlife Action Plan, including Mottled Duck, Northern Pintail,
Swainson’s Warbler, Acadian Flycatcher, and many others.
For more information about the importance of the Columbia Bottomlands and conservation strategies being developed to preserve it, please refer to
Conservation Strategies and Vegetation Characterization in the Columbia Bottomlands, an Under-recognized Southern Floodplain Forest Formation on the BioOne website.