FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Audubon Texas will reduce hours of operation at the Sabal Palm Audubon Center and Sanctuary effective May 15, 2009. Combined impacts of the declining economy and continued uncertainty over the proposed border fence are forcing Audubon to curtail public programs and access at the center outside Brownsville, Texas, in order to continue its primary conservation mission there.
The sanctuary's original mission of preserving one of the nation's last oases of healthy sabal palm habitat had been augmented in recent years by nature education efforts that expanded its role to that of a community nature center. Regrettably, donors buffeted by the recession have significantly cut back support and there is uncertainty about the Homeland Security border fence that threatens to cut off the facility from the community, effectively decimating the sanctuary's operating budget.
"Funding must go first and foremost to maintaining the sanctuary and protecting the habitat, "said Audubon Texas Executive Director, Bob Benson. "Our first priority is to keep the habitat healthy for native wildlife and to ensure that its natural wonders remain intact for the inspiration, sustenance and education of future human generations.
427 Sterzing Street #105-B w Austin, Texas 78704-1026
The 557-acre property, owned by The National Audubon Society, is home to the last remaining largest stand of native sabal palms in the nation; and is among the most biologically diverse regions in the Lone Star state. Aside from being a birder's paradise, rare plants and animals are seen here in this unique sub-tropical habitat.
Audubon will focus its resources on protecting and managing the sanctuary through a new schedule that includes months with limited access to the public. The following schedule will be in effect until further notice:
May 15 – Oct. 15 CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC
Oct. 15 – Dec. 15 OPEN WEEKENDS ONLY (Saturday & Sunday)
Dec. 15 – May 15 OPEN Tues – Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The sanctuary will still offer scheduled group tours for $10/person during the closed season; they can be arranged through the sanctuary manager. Individual admission during the open season will be $6.00 per person.
"It's unfortunate that we won't be able to maintain the current operation schedule," added Benson, "but Audubon will continue its vital work with the conservation community to protect the last vestiges of the sabal palm forest for future generations to enjoy. That's the mission that brought Audubon to the area, and it's a mission we will accomplish."
Contact: Bob Benson, Executive Director, 512-469-7891 or bbenson@audubon.