The Coastal Bend is one of the top tourism destinations in the State of Texas. This is in great part due to our region’s many historical, cultural, and coastal attractions. With the summer travel season well underway, I would like to spend some time discussing the different components of the tourism industry in our region. I would like to share information about this important type of tourism as well as several unique nature-based attractions and activities found in our area.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department defines nature tourism as tourism based on the natural attractions in the area and may include such activities as birdwatching, stargazing, camping, hiking, hunting, fishing and visiting parks or wildlife habitats. As a coastal community, our area is home to several beaches, bays and estuaries that are popular destinations for visitors to our area, including the Padre Island National Seashore and Mustang Island State Park. According to the National Park Service, the Padre Island National Seashore is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier in the world and contains 70 miles of protected coastline, dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats. The park’s diverse ecosystem makes it a haven for different marine and wildlife, including the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, which is an endangered species. The Amos Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) is a program at the University of Texas- Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas that works to help care for and rehabilitate our wildlife to ensure the successful release of as many animals as possible. Meanwhile, Mustang Island State Park offers access to five miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico where visitors of all ages participate in activities such as swimming, kayaking, camping and fishing.

The Coastal Bend is also home to several parks and preserves that serve as a refuge for migratory birds and other wildlife. These habitats contribute to one of the best examples of nature-based activities driving visitors to our area: birdwatching. With over 215 species of birds spotted in the area, the Audubon Society has routinely named Nueces County as one of the premier destinations for birdwatching in the country. Both Corpus Christi and Port Aransas are part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, an online resource providing information about the best locations to spot birds and other wildlife. For more information about the different wildlife habitats, parks, and nature preserves in our area, visit The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. To learn more about ARK, visit the Amos Rehabilitation Keep.

These coastal attractions are great to do during the summer! June 21st marked the first day of summer for 2019. It is important to remember to stay cool and safe in our Texas heat. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), states that extreme heat causes more than 600 deaths each year. Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, yet many people still die from extreme heat every year. The CDC website offers many ways to make sure you are safe during the summer. The CDC says drinking water, even when you are not thirsty, lessen midday activities, and wear sunscreen outdoors are some ways to help you have a safe and fun summer! For more information, please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces (Part) County. He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672.