RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – The Rio Grande Valley has two outstanding refuge managers in Boyd Blihovde at Laguna Atascosa and his wife Gisela Chapa who manages Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.
Unfortunately for the Valley, but great news for Alaska, the husband wife team and their two children are headed for the second largest wildlife refuge in the United States, the nearly 20 million acre Yukon National Wildlife Refuge.
Boyd Blihovde, Manager Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge said, “The thing I am going to miss is the partnerships here. The landscape is going to be great in Alaska and the wildlife, but I don’t think there has been any place I have worked where there has been so much support as here in South Texas.”
During his seven years at Laguna, Blihovde has expanded the refuge boundaries dramatically and thru various partnerships linked up the main refuge east of Rio Hondo to the 20,000 acre plus Bahia Grande tract north of the Brownsville ship channel.
Blihovde said, “Now, we are transitioning to try and get some of the properties open to the public.”
Both refuge managers are strong advocates of enhancing public access to refuge lands and nature’s importance to our physical and mental health.
Gisela Chapa, Manager Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. “I think that it is really important for us to be able to connect with our roots and experience what the area used to look like before we started changing the landscape.”
Santa Ana remains closed during the corona crisis but will hopefully reopen soon, but Laguna Atascosa is open for visitation.
“Just come and explore and see what the Valley used to look like.” said Chapa.
Blihovde added, “My kids are six. It is time for me to try something like going to Alaska, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the opportunity arose I would try and come back here, my wife’s family is still here.”
The Rio Grande Valley would welcome them back with open arms.