Valley Land Fund one step closer to regaining control of birding preserve

Local News

ROMA, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Valley Land Fund (VLF) is in the final stages of taking back the Salineño Birding Preserve from the federal government.

The Salineño Bird Preserve was in the crosshairs of the federal government for the construction of the border wall. Now they are just waiting on a judge’s signature.

Debralee Garcia-Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Valley Land Fund, the organization in ownership of the Salineño Bird Preserve, said when the 2.6 acres of their bird preserve became a point of interest for the federal government, she was shocked.

“We thought we were in the clear,” said Rodriguez.

Though the government wanted to take .73 acres of land for the Trump-era border wall, the preserve itself is only 2.6 acres, Rodriguez said it would have negatively affected wildlife.

“The portion that they wanted to take was probably the most valuable part of the preserve itself,” said Rodriguez.

On Sept. 17 the lawyer representing the VLF announced they had reached a settlement where the title would go back to the VLF.

“We agreed that the property was going be revested back into the Valley Land Fund,” said Rodriguez.

However, Rodriguez said it is not final until the judge signs off.

Their case is similar to 91 other people across the southwestern border from Cameron to Webb Counties, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project, which represents many people fighting the federal government to keep their land.

“It’s good that we are getting some of these things resolved but it is overdue,” said Ricky Garza, a staff attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project.

He explained the Biden administration caused confusion when the campaign promised ‘not one more foot of border wall’ while nearly a hundred cases for border wall construction remained pending.

“Until the day we get all the of the return of the land signed, they are trying to finish Trump’s wall because that’s what they are saying by keeping the lawsuits on the federal docket,” said Garza.

Rodriguez said if the judge signs on their case, they plan on holding a celebration during migration season in November.

“I am waiting for the ink to dry,” said Rodriguez.

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