Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

Andrew Sansom

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pp. ix-x

My first experience with the incredible biological diversity of the Lower Rio Grande Valley occurred when, as an employee of The Nature Conservancy, I had the privilege of adding part of the historic Tres Corrales Ranch to the Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The property was owned by a wonderful gentleman named Hale Schlaben and his...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

Because I live in another state, I have had to depend so often on the generosity and assistance of the people of South Texas. Nowhere could there possibly be a warmer and more enthusiastic group! I would like to thank most especially the managers and staff at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge who talked with me over a five-year period: acting manager Chris Hathcock, former...

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The Land of Santa Ana: Solving Mysteries

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pp. 1-12

In 1943, an old Mexican land grant gave its name to the third national wildlife refuge in Texas. Preceded only by the Muleshoe (1935) and Aransas (1937) refuges, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge included the southern portion of two leagues awarded to Benigno Leal over a century earlier. Santa Ana has been the name consistently associated with...

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1. Saving the Santa Ana Forest

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pp. 13-29

In the fall of 1943, the first manager of a new national wildlife refuge in South Texas ended his report on a note of satisfaction. “The Santa Ana Refuge has passed into Government hands . . . and a very fine little refuge was acquired,” he wrote, typing carefully onto the provided legal form. These words are the last of his quarterly report, a document...

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2. The Original Landscape of Santa Ana

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pp. 30-43

In 1834, the year that Benigno Leal received a Mexican grant for two leagues of north-bank land he called Santa Ana, Spanish settlers had been living across the Rio Grande from that land for seventy-five years. This was enough time for several generations of horsemen, explorers, ranchers, and hunters to gain intimate knowledge of the thorn...

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3. First Changers: Hunters, Grazers, and Browsers

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pp. 44-58

The documented story of the 1834 Santa Ana land grant begins at least eighty years earlier. By the late eighteenth century, a change pushed into the northern Hidalgo County grasslands that destroyed ancient rhythms: domestic animal appetite. Spanish families brought to the southern Rio Grande herds of grass eaters, the...

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4. The Early Leal Years: People of the River

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pp. 59-82

In 1834 Benigno Leal was twenty-seven, a young, ambitious rancher from Reynosa. His family name, Leal, places his line among the earliest settlers arriving with José Escandón. In the riverine corridor across from Mier in northeastern Tamaulipas, Juan Antonio Leal was granted Porción 55 in 1767. His land consisted of 5,783 acres stretching...

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5. The World Outside Comes to Santa Ana

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pp. 83-109

In the first years of occupancy of Santa Ana, animals changed more of the environment than people did. But this shifted as the American nation became interested in the territory between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. As a war brought soldiers into the area of the old porciones and newer Mexican grants, the river was initially the conduit. In the summer...

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6. Water, and Goats on Santa Ana: The Guzmán Dream

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pp. 110-135

In the years after the Civil War, the great shapers of the Lower Rio Grande Valley ecosystem, fire and flood, changed in frequency and severity. Fires decreased; floods increased. On Santa Ana, there were no recorders of this shift. Small ranching communities are pinned at few points into the historical record, mainly through legal documents such...

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7. Land Redefined

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pp. 136-158

The story of what happened to the Santa Ana land grant in the early twentieth century is still intimately connected to the life-giving waters of the Rio Grande. Between 1900 and the Great Depression, interest in South Texas lands focused intensely on the action of water. In these decades, pump irrigation, catastrophic flooding, and the proposed...

Notes

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pp. 159-186

Bibliography

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pp. 187-216

Image Plates

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Other Works in the Series, Back Cover

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