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USGS REPORT: An International Borderland of Concern: Conservation of Biodiversity in the Lower Rio Grande Valley

David M. Leslie, Jr

The Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) of southern Texas is located on the United States-Mexico borderland and represents a 240-kilometer (150-mile) linear stretch that ends at the Gulf of Mexico. The LRGV represents a unique transition between temperate and tropical conditions and, as such, sustains an exceptionally high diversity of plants and animals—some of them found in few, or no other, places in the United States. Examples include Leopardus pardalis albescens (northern ocelot) and Falco femoralis septentrionalis (northern aplomado falcon)—both endangered in the United States and emblematic of the LRGV. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) manages three national wildlife refuges (Santa Ana, Lower Rio Grande Valley, and Laguna Atascosa) that together make up the South Texas Refuge Complex, which actively conserves biodiversity in about 76,006 hectares (187,815.5 acres) of native riparian and upland habitats in the LRGV. These diminished habitats harbor many rare, threatened, and endangered species. Learn More


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Peyote As Commodity: An Examination Of Market Actors And Access Mechanisms

Kevin Feeney

Access to the peyote cactus, a religious sacrament of the Native American Church (NAC), has been regulated by the federal government and the state of Texas since the 1960s. Over the last forty years, the number of licensed distributors has declined, a trend accompanied by rising prices and a diminishing market supply of the psychoactive cactus. Distributors are recognized as the primary NAC peyote source; consequently, their disappearance would be devastating for the 250,000-plus adherents of this distinctive indigenous tradition. Based on interviews with current and former peyote distributors, peyote pickers, landowners, and NAC members, a map of the various commodity chains that make up the peyote supply network is constructed. This research applies Access Mapping and Access Analysis of the supply network to identify the primary factors driving the decline of the regulated peyote trade. Focusing on the distributors’ and NAC members’ rights-based, structural, and relational access mechanisms, avenues for increasing access are identified, including amendment of distributor licensing fees. Learn More