Mike Marvins

Courtesy NPS

Rio Grande Village VC Renovation & Wetlands Restoration

Debuted: November 2010 and January 2020

Amount Raised: $286,500

Top Donors: The Trull Foundation, The Brown Foundation, The Meadows Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Permian Basin Area Foundation, The Powell Foundation


For ten years, the Conservancy worked with the park to restore over 55 acres of wetlands in the Rio Grande Village area of the park and then to rehabilitate the RGV Visitor Center into a showcase for the area's wetlands, world-class birding, and rich cross-border history.

This project's goal was to restore a disturbed riparian bird habitat near the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park. Agricultural-era earthen berms constructed prior to park establishment that alter natural surface and groundwater conditions were removed, natural soil contours were reestablished, and native riparian vegetation, including cottonwoods and willows, were established on the five-acre site. Riparian bird species native to the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico will find valuable habitat at the site following restoration. The site is adjacent to the popular Rio Grande Village campground; thus birdwatchers will find the site particularly valuable and accessible. Additionally, restoration of hydrologic conditions benefits the federally endangered Big Bend mosquitofish by restoring natural surface and groundwater dynamics to the site, which is just upstream of wetlands containing the fish.

The project included three phases:

  1. Planning and design, including topographic survey and engineering plan production
  2. Implementation of the plan by recontouring soil surface using earthmoving equipment
  3. Revegetation of site with native riparian tree overstory and grassland understory


This project is now complete, with the visitor center opening in January 2020 to the public.  We thank all of our donors who worked with us for a decade to both restore wetlands and educate park visitors on their bounty.