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Advocacy

Houston Audubon Advocacy

Advocacy issues are in approximate chronological order, beginning with our earliest efforts. Many of our issues, such as development on the Bolivar Peninsula and the proposed Bolivar Bridge, have expanded over decades.

Wallisville Dam: In 1971 Houston Audubon took its first high-profile advocacy position by joining a lawsuit to stop the Wallisville Dam on the Trinity River. An injunction stopped construction of the project in 1973, but litigation continued for many years until the injunction was lifted in 1987. It appeared the battle was lost, but then a magnificent pair of Bald Eagles was discovered nesting in the heart of the project area. As a result, a much smaller reservoir was built, and thousands of acres that had been condemned were designated a preserve for public use.

Airport on the Katy Prairie: Houston Audubon participated in a lawsuit to stop construction of a City of Houston airport on the Katy Prairie, an area of critical habitat for millions of wintering geese and waterfowl. That battle began in 1990 lasted for many years and did stop the project. Houston Audubon has also filed letters of objection to smaller airports on the Katy Prairie.

Lake Jackson Golf Course: Houston Audubon worked to stop the building of a 200-acre golf course near Lake Jackson in the Columbia Bottomlands. In 2001 the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a ruling against Houston Audubon, allowing the project to proceed.

Bayport Terminal: In 2002 Houston Audubon joined a lawsuit to stop the construction of the Bayport Terminal, based on the loss of critically important coastal prairie habitat. Despite the lawsuit, the project was allowed to proceed.

Bolivar Bridge: As of 2008 this proposal is not currently being advanced, but the idea has come up from time to time over the past two decades. Houston Audubon feels that a bridge in the proposed location would do inestimable harm to our Bolivar Flats and Horseshoe Marsh sanctuaries.

Liquified Natural Gas Facility: In 2002 Houston Audubon joined a lawsuit to block a LNG receiving and processing facility on Quintana Island near the Quintana Neotropical Bird Sanctuary. The lawsuit was not successful.

Neches River NWR: Houston Audubon worked to to support the creation of the refuge and to overturn a lawsuit which threatened to overturn the refuge's creation. In July, 2008, Judge Jorge A. Solis upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2006 creation of the refuge.

Reauthorization by Congress of Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act: Houston Audubon supported the reauthorization and increase in funding for the North American Bird Conservation Act and encouraged participation in American Bird Conservancy's Act for Songbirds campaign. - July, 2008

Christmas Mountains Preserve: Houston Audubon supported efforts to oppose the proposed sale of this 9,200 preserve in the Chihuahuan Desert, contiguous to Big Bend National Park. The Christmas Mountains, adjacent to Big Bend National Park, were donated to Texas in 1991 by the Richard King Mellon Foundation and The Conservation Fund. The donors hoped that the Mountains would be protected as a public park or wildlife refuge; instead, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has tried to sell them off to private interests. Environment Texas led the public campaign to save the Christmas Mountains and to have them added to Big Bend National Park. Houston Audubon generated letters from legislators and non-profit groups, dozens of news stories (including one in the New York Times), and collected more than 10,000 petition signatures. On Feb. 5, 2009, the School Land Board voted to reject the sale of the Christmas Mountains and to keep the mountains in public hands. In addition, Commissioner Patterson ordered the mountains be opened to the public for hiking, camping and other low-impact activities. We still have a lot of work to do to ensure the land is added to Big Bend National Park, including guarding against new obstacles Commissioner Patterson may put forth. (For the latest news on our campaign to save the Christmas Mountains, visit our Hot Topics page.)

TransTexas Corridor: Beginning in February, 2008, Houston Audubon worked to oppose construction of the corridor, calling it unnecessary and requested. In January, 2009, the corridor project was canceled and the decision was announced to use existing highways instead.

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