from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121
July 7, 2006

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI WELCOMES ROMA BLUFFS WORLD BIRDING CENTER TO STARR COUNTY

(ROMA) – Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, welcomed the newest addition to the Lower Rio Grande Valley's nature and wildlife preservation community as she joined federal, state and local officials at the grand opening of the Roma Bluffs World Birding Center (WBC). The ceremony at the Roma National Historic Landmark District on Wednesday (July 5) commemorated the opening of Roma Bluffs' newest facilities composed of nearly 4,500 acres of state and federal preserved land. Staff from the WBC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is responsible for managing the Roma Bluffs facility, hosted the event, which included remarks from federal, state and local officials and an official ribbon cutting.

Federal, state and local officials who participated included Congressman Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin; State Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City; Roma Mayor Fernando Peña; Kenneth Merritt, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department; Russell Fishbeck, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Mario Sanchez and Steve Walker, Texas Department of Transportation; Smokey Cranfill, Roma Bluffs WBC manager; David Merrill, WBC; John McClung, Friends of the Wildlife Corridor; and Steve Tillotson and Kell Muñoz, Roma Bluffs WBC architects.

"It truly is a pleasure to be in the historic City of Roma to welcome the newest World Birding Center to South Texas and the Lower Rio Grande Valley," Senator Zaffirini said. "Because WBC appropriately refers to our various birding sites as wings, we welcome this new wing and are pleased to add it to Roma's rich plume of cultural history."

"We are grateful for the devotion of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, City of Roma, Texas Parks and Wildlife Service, WBC, and Friends of the Wildlife Corridor in protecting the natural habitat we celebrate today. "

With Roma's proximity to Mexico, the new WBC will blend wildlife appreciation and habitat preservation with cross cultural awareness. Roma Bluffs WBC offers visitors the opportunity to view avian species unique to South Texas' river woodlands. The WBC becomes the newest addition to the WBC network that runs along the Lower Rio Grande Valley wildlife corridor stretch, from Falcon Dam to the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico. The new facilities offer wilderness tours, canoe-led birding trips, walking trails and organized nature classes.

Fourth in seniority in the 31-member Texas Senate, the senator is the namesake of United ISD's Senator Judith Zaffirini Elementary School, Laredo Community College's Senator Judith Zaffirini Library, Lake Casa Blanca International State Park's Senator Judith Zaffirini Road and the Judith Zaffirini Program in Edinburg that focuses on fighting drug addictions of men, women and children.

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