HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Bryan Winton, manager of the 108,000-acre Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge (LRGVNWR) is retiring this November after 25 years with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
“If it wasn’t for our agency there would be very few representative samples of nature left in the Valley”, said Winton.
More than 95% of native wildlands in the four-county area comprising the Rio Grande Valley have been cleared for agriculture and development.
However, our natural heritage in southernmost Texas is preserved and thriving on lands owned by the people and managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
National Wildlife Refuge lands in the Rio Grande Valley encompass approximately 220,000 acres with Santa Ana preserving 2,088 acres; Laguna Atascosa protecting some 110,000 acres and Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge safeguarding 108,000 acres.
During Winton’s quarter-century of service with Fish and Wildlife, he has strived to protect vanishing RGV wildlands during rapid population growth and development.
Winton said, “Did my best to try and save wildlife and wild places here in the Valley.”
Despite increasing threats, Winton is heartened by wildlife’s ability to survive if given enough habitat and encourages folks to visit their local refuge.
“The refuge is very important, and it is still amazing to me to this day, even with the development we have experienced in the last 10 or 15 years how rich the wildlife is here, even with so little habitat left. It is amazing how resilient the natural world is”, he said.
While Winton is retiring from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, he is not abandoning his work with wildlife.
“There are a lot of things I can do. I am not going to throw in the towel and forget about wildlife…I am really looking forward to a new chapter in my life”, added Winton.