HARLINGEN, Texas – What is worth more than $463 million annually to the Valley economy? Nature tourism is the answer and in particular, birdwatching. Richard Moore previews the upcoming Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival.
The Rio Grande Valley is a birder’s paradise, and if you want to see a rare Aplomado falcon, exotic Green jay or tropical Altamira oriole then the Valley is the place to be.
With more than 530 species of birds documented in the Valley and some 30 avian residents that don’t venture any farther north…southernmost Texas beckons birders with the highest concentration of unique species in the United States.
The 26th annual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival begins this Wednesday, November 6 and runs thru Sunday with festival headquarters at the new Harlingen Convention Center. More than 500 registrants are expected for this year’s festival, and there is still time to register for various field trips.
In addition to a variety of seminars, children’s activities and speakers there is a free trade shows featuring all the latest in optics, outdoor apparel, books and more. If you are interested in learning more about the upcoming Birding Festival then call 423-5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are an estimated 45 million birdwatchers in the United States, and birding is big business in South Texas. A 2011 study by Texas A&M University revealed nature tourism, birdwatching in particular, brought an annual economic impact of more than $463 million to the Rio Grande Valley and supports approximately 6,613 jobs.
A separate study pegged the immediate monetary impetus of the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival at more than $5 million. While the economic impact of nature tourism is vital to the area economy, the intrinsic value of our natural heritage is perhaps of even greater value.
How can you put a price on the unfathomable beauty of an Altamira oriole, or the soul satisfying experience of beholding a rare Aplomado falcon?