Summers in Texas are known for their humidity and heat. In the Rio Grande Valley, you might want to add a positive factor to that combo – birdwatching. With 14 miles of trails and 2,088 acres of biological diversity, the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge lives up to its name as the “Jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System.”
If you’re interested in opening a business in Alamo, get in touch with us. We have incentives and programs to jumpstart yours in the South Texas market.
At the Alamo Economic Development Corporation (EDC), we make sure small businesses are aware of every incentive we have available. Ecotourism is a very important component of the city, and it’s spearheaded by the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Nature tourists contribute over $300 million to the economy of Alamo and the Rio Grande Valley.
According to Environmental Leader, consumers are 53% more likely to spend on environmentally friendly products from a company that has a strong environmental reputation. Below are some tips to make sure your business is taking advantage of the ecotourism boost in the Alamo economy:
- Remember, you’ll want ecotourists to visit your business for unique experiences that they can’t find anywhere else.
- Ecotourism is a “service industry.” What does your business offer that might tap into the ecotourist spending power? Do you sell produce? Maybe you can sell jams or fruits straight from the farm.
- Customer service is still at the heart of a great consumer experience. Providing little details, such as the convenience of cell phone charging areas for guests, can lead to loyalty and repeated business. It shows that you care to provide comfort along with wanting to make a sale.
New Discoveries Will Bring in More Tourists
Recent discoveries of new species at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge mean more customers coming into the Rio Grande Valley. As customers flock to the Valley, businesses need to be prepared for these environmentally conscious consumers. Read below on some of the recent discoveries in case a customer asks you about the Giant Swallowtail or the Gulf Coast Ribbon snake.
A Jewel Among Jewels
The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is located on Green Jay Rd. in Alamo. Since 1943, the refuge has established itself as a protector of migratory birds. Many species from Central and South America also use the refuge as their northern-most point. There are also many species of butterflies and birds not found anywhere else in the United States.
With its 14 miles of trails, the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is the ideal place for all of your birdwatching needs this summer. More than 390 species have been documented, so it’s safe to say that birdwatching is abundant and easily one of the largest tourist attractions in South Texas.
According to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge Park Ranger Raul Garza, Jr., that number is surely to rise as new species of birds have been spotted during late peak migration.
“My surveys found over 70 species of birds through winter and 15 new species during late peak migration. The more surveys that are completed, the number of species will, without a doubt, increase,” he said. “Other than birds, butterflies and reptiles were also recorded on my outings at this wetland area.”
Garza explains that areas such as Laguna Park/Detention Pond play integral roles for most migratory birds. Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge serves as a migratory stop while these species head north and south.
“They (the Laguna Park and Detention Pond) play an integral role for most migratory birds,” Garza said. “Having areas like Laguna Park are an abundant resource for the local community and opportunities for environmental education.”
The Latest Survey
The latest survey at the Laguna Park site has discovered 15 new species of animals, and 70 overall. These range from birds, reptiles and plant life. Every year, the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge finds new reasons to keep bringing tourism back to the Rio Grande Valley.
Gulf Coast Ribbon Snake
These Ribbon snakes can be found in swamps, rivers and marshes. They also have an appetite for frogs, tadpoles and fish. The Gulf Coast Ribbon Snake also has excellent sight, which enables it to hunt primarily by sight rather than scent.
This is the largest of all North American butterflies with the exception of the female Tiger Swallowtails, as they are sometimes the same size. The Swallowtail has yellow markings with dark brown wings. It also has a large yellow strip across its wings. Its favorite nectar plants include Lantana and Zinnias while its favorite host plants are citrus and wild lime.
A regular of the West, Great Plains and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, the Swainson’s hawk is an elegant gray, brown and white bird. These hawks can usually be found on fence posts and irrigation spouts looking for insects or rodents. During the fall, hundreds to thousands flock together to Argentina.
These slim, silver-gray birds with golden brushes on their heads and wings have colors they’ve made all their own. You’ll find them in wet areas of the Midwest during breeding season and spend winters in the woodlands. Unfortunately, they have suffered a drastic population decline in the last half-century. They are also known to hybridize with blue-winged Warblers, resulting in distinct offspring.
Reap the Benefits of Alamo’s Ecotourism Boost
As ecotourism gives the City of Alamo and the Rio Grande Valley a huge boost, the Alamo EDC is dedicated to helping your business succeed. We have incentives, such as the Revolving Loan Program, to help small businesses grow and expand. Call us at 956.787.6622 to help you expand into the South Texas market.