Winning teams in the 2008 Great Texas Birding Classic have awarded their conservation prize money to fund seven habitat projects totaling $73,000 along the Texas coast. Touted as the world’s longest birding competition, the Birding Classic has funded a total of $651,000 for avian habitat conservation since it began 12 years ago.
Each year, winning teams allocate prize money to fund wildlife habitat conservation and restoration projects approved by the Birding Classic staff. This year’s event ran April 27-May 4. The competition is jointly hosted by Gulf Coast Bird Observatory and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Conservation prize money comes from corporate sponsors, team entry fees, community and individual donations, a Wildlife Diversity Conservation Grant from Horned Lizard Conservation License Plate funds and a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program.
“A number of conservation prize projects this year will help restore or improve land that’s already protected by local or statewide organizations,” said Carol Jones, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory education program manager. “A common thread among several of the 2008 projects is to remove invasive, nonnative plants and replace them with native flora that better support birds and wildlife.”
This year, the $20,000 top prize was funded entirely by revenue from the sale of specialty vehicle license plates bearing the Texas horned lizard image. Money from horned lizard license plate sales supports nongame and endangered animals and their habitats statewide, as outlined in the recently completed Texas Wildlife Action Plan. The Borrow Ditch Wetland Restoration Project at the Texas City Prairie Preserve is located within the high priority habitat of the plan’s Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes region and directly benefits bird species listed as priorities in the action plan.