January 17, 2020
Dear Friend,

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                                              Wildlife at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

Rep. Vela Announces $7.5 Million for National Park and National Wildlife Refuges

The House passed a 2020 funding bill in December, which included a total of $7.5 million in funds for TX-34 parks and national refuges.  These funds will be used to expand Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park, the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Refuge, and the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.

Since 2015, I have been working with the National Park Service (NPS) and The Conservation Fund to secure $3.5 million to help purchase land for the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park. This land is part of the core battlefield of the Battle of Palo Alto and will connect the two large sections of the battlefield currently owned by NPS. This additional land will make the battlefield mostly whole.

I am also working to transfer the Fort Brown Earthworks to the National Park Service. Including the Fort Brown Earthworks in the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park will preserve the only standing structure in the United States associated with the Mexican-American War. Conserving the earthworks will help tell the story of the attack on Fort Brown, which led to the Battle of Palo Alto and the Battle of Resaca de la Palma.  In October, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on my bill, H.R. 4139, and I am working to move the legislation out of committee and on to the House Floor for consideration by the full House of Representatives in the upcoming year.

Additionally, I have worked with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), The Conservation Fund, and The Nature Conservancy over the past several years to complete land acquisitions that have expanded Laguna Atascosa NWR, including Bahia Grande.  Protecting this natural habitat is particularly important to help ensure the survival of the ocelot and other endangered species

Finally, the legislation also included $2 million to acquire land for the Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR. The Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR is essential to the South Texas ecosystem. I included language in this bill, as well as the funding bill for Fiscal Year 2019, to prohibit the Administration from building a wall in a critical section within the ocelot corridor.  

Adding land to these refuges will help continue the important work of protecting natural habitats, the environment and ensuring these natural wonders and wildlife will be around for future generations to enjoy.

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Rep. Vela Hosts Pinning Ceremonies Honoring Vietnam Veterans

I will honor Vietnam veterans throughout TX-34 by hosting six pinning ceremonies throughout the district.  These ceremonies are part of the Vietnam War 50th Commemoration program that recognizes Vietnam War veterans and their families for their honorable service, and for the sacrifices they have made for our nation.  At each ceremony, veterans will receive a Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin provided by the official Commemoration office for their active duty service between November 1, 1955, and May 15, 1975.    

If you or someone you know served during the Vietnam Era, they may register to attend a ceremony in their area. Registration forms can be found here or you may contact my Brownsville district office at (956) 544-8352.

Image                                     Congressman Vela in front of a custom painted training jet 

Rep. Vela Visits NAS Kingsville

Last week, I visited Naval Air Station Kingsville, where I learned about plans to improve access and security to the main gate and about the need for updated facilities for Fire and Emergency Services on base to accommodate a modern fleet of firefighting/rescue vehicles.  During my visit, I also toured the fleet of T-45 Goshawk aircraft, which are instrumental in training our Navy and Marine Corps aviators for the current and future fight. Special thanks to NASK security officer Lt. Michael Ellis and Housing Director Jonah Shalack for taking the time to meet with me and members of my staff.

 

Sincerely,

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Filemon Vela
Member of Congress