Sabal Palm Grove, Brownsville - to reopen Jan. 3

Mike Quinn entomike at
Wed Dec 29 19:41:58 EST 2010

FYI, Mike Quinn, Austin


Foundation raises funds to reopen shuttered Audubon sanctuary
 December 25, 2010
 By STEVE CLARK, The Brownsville

More than a year and a half after being forced to close, Sabal Palm Audubon
Sanctuary will once again throw open its gates to the public.

Monday, Jan. 3, is the big day.

The resurrection of the 527-acre sanctuary, which contains one of the last
stands of original sabal palm forest in the United States, was made possible
by the Gorgas Science Foundation’s sale this year of its former
headquarters, the 1890 Alonso Building on St. Charles Street downtown, to
the Brownsville Historic Association.

The foundation will use proceeds from the sale to operate Sabal Palm, with a
portion of the money going to restore the sanctuary’s historic plantation
house, known as the Rabb House, built in 1875 by Rio Grande riverboat
captain Frank Rabb. The Gorgas foundation is a nonprofit organization
dedicated to conservation and

Lawrence Lof, president of the foundation and BHA board member, said the
foundation had been working on the Sabal Palm deal since March, after being
approached multiple times by Audubon Texas officials. Audubon Texas had
closed the sanctuary in 2009 citing budget constraints stemming from a
decline in donations and visitors.


Lof said Sabal Palm is an “incredibly important asset” to local residents as
well as from an eco-tourism perspective. Before it closed, the sanctuary was
one of the top bird-watching sites in South Texas.

 Jimmy Paz, who managed the sanctuary for roughly 12 years before it closed
and is stepping into that role again, said the sanctuary is officially
designated an Important Bird Area.

“I believe this is the greatest thing that has happened down here in South
Texas in a long time,” he said of the Gorgas foundation taking over the
sanctuary. “With them taking over it’s going to be a win-win for Audubon,
for Gorgas, for the community, for the wildlife and for everybody.”

full: <>


Sabal Palms Sanctuary set to re-open in Brownsville
by Daisy Martinez <>
Posted: 12.28.2010


Video from local news station:


Here's an earlier, 2008, NYTimes article on the palm grove:

A Natural Treasure That May End Up Without a Country
Published: April 7, 2008


At the very bottom of this country, where the Rio Grande loops up and down
as if determined to thwart territorial imperatives, there sits a natural
wonderland called the Sabal Palm Audubon Center. Rare birds of impossible
colors dart about the rustling jungle, while snakes slink, tortoises dawdle
and the occasional ocelot grants a rare sighting.

After decades of reclamation and preservation, and after millions of public
and private dollars spent, this has become a vital place in one of the
nation’s very poorest cities. Beyond the busloads of gawking schoolchildren,
the center also attracts birders from around the world to spend money the
color of their beloved olive sparrow in local restaurants and hotels.

But if you yearn to hear the clattering call of the chachalaca at Sabal
Palm, your travel plans perhaps should factor in the Fence.


Pix of border wall just north of the palm grove:

Photo of the Rabb House mentioned which is slated to be the new visitor

Gorgas apparently doesn't have a website, but here's the palm grove's:

Info on entomologist William Gorgas (1854 – 1920):

Charles Schaeffer described over 100 beetle spp. from this area:
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