TEXAS GEMS -PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE
Padre Island National Seashore encompasses 133,000 acres of America's vanishing barrier islands. While providing food, water, and shelter for a multitude of diverse wildlife, the island remains a mecca for tourists. Padre Island National Seashore receives an average of 900,000 visitors per year. The majority of the visitors are from the regional area. It is located in Kenedy, Kleberg, and Willacy counties.
Septemner 09, 1962
Area of Influence:
12110208- South Laguna Madre/Arroyo Colorado/Resaca
del Rancho Viejo,12110207- Middle Laguna Madre/Vargas Crk/Callo
Podrones/Los Finados, and 12110203- North Laguna Madre (USGS Hydrologic
Units, Texas Maps).
4a- Dunes/Barrier of Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes (Ecoregions and Sub-regions of Texas).
Coastal barrier island
Several federal and state listed threatened and endangered species of birds and marine reptiles occur within the national seashore. All protected marine mammals that occur in the Gulf of Mexico have the potential of occurring in the park but usually are associated with a stranding event where the animal is injured, sick, or dead.
Rare/endangered/threatened species and natural communities with occurrence record on Padre Island National Seashore include:
falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Piping plover (Charadrius melodus)
Texas pipefish (Syngnathus affinis)
Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)
Kemp's Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)
Seacoast Bluestem-Gulfdune paspalum Series
Padre Island National Seashore has large numbers of colonial nesting waterbirds that breed in the park. These include: White Pelicans, Laughing Gulls, Forster's Terns, White-faced Ibis, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets etc. Because of the Laguna Madre, the Park offers nursery areas to numerous species of fish. Two species of turtles, the Kemps Ridley, and the Loggerhead, lay eggs in the park.
Numerous species of shorebirds forage within the park. These include Piping, Snowy, and Black-bellied plovers, Ring-Billed, Herring, and Laughing gulls; Least, Caspian, and Royal terns, and several species sandpipers.
Approximately 125 species of neotropical birds migrate through the park during the fall and spring migration (for a bird list contact the park). Several other species of birds migrate into the park during the winter months including: Sandhill Cranes, Herring and Ring-Billed gulls, Peregrine Falcons, and Ospreys.
The island consists of a wide, clean beach of sand that in places gives way to small shells, next an alignment of dunes paralleling the shore, then grassy flats, broken here and there by smaller dunes.
The island functions as a coastal barrier island system.
Uniqueness of Natural Community:
Part of the longest, undeveloped barrier island in the United States.
Historical, Archaeological and Cultural Significance:
In 1519, Alvarez de Pineda discovered and charted the island on behalf of Governor Garay of Jamaica. First named Las Islas Blancas- the White Islands- the long island became infamous as a graveyard for ships driven onto its shore by storms out of the Gulf of Mexico. About 1800, Padre Nicholas Balli, for whom the island was later named, received a Spanish land grant that includes Padre Island.
Existing or Potential Educational Use:
Winter programs are geared toward environmental education for kids. The park conducts a number of programs during the year. These include bird walks, surf fishing demonstrations, beach walks, junior ranger programs, and campfire programs. Interpretive staff are available for offsite presentations concerning resource issues, threats, and information to civic and community organizations.
Many recreational opportunities exist in the park. These include: fishing, swimming, camping, windsurfing, sailing, boating, bird and wildlife watching, star gazing, and personal reflection.
Commercial activity in the park is limited. Several fishing guide and birding services are operating within the park.
The mineral rights to Padre Island National Seashore are held in private ownership. These are allowed to be developed by its owners. However, the National Park Service and several other federal and state agencies regulate how minerals may be developed with the least amount of impact to the natural and cultural resources of the park.
The federal government owns all properties within the boundary of Padre Island National Seashore.
The park is designated as a National Seashore by the National Park Service.
The park is managed as a natural and cultural area and is mandated by the Organic Act to conserve the scenery and natural and historical objects and wildlife therein and provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.
Existing Monitoring Activities:
Park monitoring activities include: mist-netting for neotropical migratory birds, patrolling for nesting sea turtles, conducting vegetation succession studies, colonial waterbird inventories, and monitoring oil and gas development facilities.
Management needs for Padre Island National Seashore primarily include baseline inventories of insects, terrestrial mammals, terrestrial reptiles and amphibians, marine invertebrates at Port Mansfield jetties, and air quality. Also,continued monitoring of neotropical migratory bird species and threatened and endangered birds and sea turtles, and monitoring of marine debris items and the possible point sources of those items. Conservation issues for the park include: growing and planting native vegetation, vegetation and shoreline improvements for the park spoil islands, and closing numerous entrances to the back portion of the island to prevent damage to sensitive environments.
Threats to Ecological Integrity:
Several threats to the parks ecological integrity include: 1) continued dumping of plastics and other manmade products into the Gulf of Mexico which wash ashore in the park, 2) continued air quality problems from local industries which have the potential for impairing the aesthetic values of the park, 3) possibility of contamination from oil and gas production, transport, and ecological disasters such as oil spills, 4) continued local development by residential and commercial activities which could impair clear night skies.
Marine Debris Point Source Investigation, 1994-1995, Padre Island National Seashore, John E. Miller, Sean W. Baker, and Darrell L. Echols, June, 1995.