[texbirds] TexBirds violence report misleading

  • From: Alamoinn@xxxxxxx
  • To: texbirds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 20 Jul 2012 12:00:46 -0400 (EDT)

I was very disturbed to read a posting yesterday by one of our  best Valley 
birders, "Eastern Hidalgo County 7-19-12," which  casually prefaced a good 
birding report with unrelated information on local  criminal and law 
enforcement activity. 
 
Clearly it was simply a passing observation. There was no causal link to  
birding, no involvement of birders. The observation does not present an 
accurate  picture of the Valley, It will likely be read amiss since it was out 
of 
context.  Furthermore it is now a part of the permanent archival record of 
TexBirds, which  I am herewith correcting. Unless it relates directly to 
birders and birding hot  spots I do not see the point in reporting items off 
the local nightly TV news.  It is simply not an accurate picture of the 
situation for birders and birding in  the Valley. 
 
Birding the Valley is safe. Crime statistics in the Valley are lower than  
in most other U.S. urban areas. McAllen is at a 20 year low in crime 
(according  to McAllen's Chief of Police). We live here in family oriented, 
largely 
 Christian communities, where people care for each other and for their  
neighbors. Violence of the kind occurring in Mexico is not experienced in  the 
Valley. Valley crime consists of violence within the gang and drug world,  
plus limited family violence. The three incidents reported on 7-19 all 
involved  the gang/drug world and law enforcement officers.
 
Birders should know that the Valley is safe for travel and for birding. Due 
 to our border location there are huge federal and state law enforcement 
assets  based here, and they are doing excellent work. I am active with the 
South  Texas Refuges Friends groups and we receive regular updates on criminal 
activity  in the vicinity of some 125 refuge tracts across the Valley. For 
six months of  the year refuge volunteers live in RVs on river tracts such 
as Salineno,  and for twelve months of the year on Santa Ana, and Marinoff 
tract, and I hear  from them about how it is. I also speak to about a thousand 
visiting birders a  year about their field experiences, and to many local 
residents in our  communities here. And I bird the Valaley, by myself, with  
others, and guiding groups. 
 
Based on all my sources, I wish to assure readers of TexBirds that the  
Valley is safe for birding, and birding is really great here.  
 
Living here in the poorest counties in U.S., it was exciting to  read our 
latest South Texas Nature visitor survey (conducted by Texas  A&M) which 
reveals that the Valley receives some $460 million per year from  birding 
(non-consumptive nature tourism) and this supports thousands of jobs for  good 
people, including many biologists, and supports 180,000  acres of critical bird 
habitat. A few thoughtless sensitized words  dropped casually here and 
there could due to misunderstandings wipe out  birding visitors and the jobs 
and 
habitat they support. Who wants that to occur?  Please keep reports focused 
on birds and birding.
 
Come enjoy great birding in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Your visit  
supports critical bird habitat here. 
 
Thank you.
 
Keith Hackland
Alamo, Texas
President Friends of the Wildlife Corridor, Board member of Friends of  
Laguna Atascosa, Lower Rio Grande Valley Nature Center, South Texas Nature  
Marketing co-op, RGV Film Commission, Alamo Chamber, Hidalgo co-op

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