ROB AND BESSIE WELDER WILDLIFE FOUNDATION AND REFUGE
ROB AND BESSIE WELDER WILDLIFE FOUNDATION AND REFUGE. The Rob and Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation was established in 1954 by the will of Robert Hughes Welder, which provided for the foundation and operation of a wildlife refuge in San Patricio County. The refuge was in operation for several years before it was formally dedicated on April 22, 1961. It occupies a fraction of a vast Spanish grant that had been in the Welder family since 1832. Welder specified that the refuge offer conditions in which wildlife could live, forage, and propagate and that it provide opportunities for research and education in wildlife conservation and related fields. The 7,800-acre refuge is eight miles northeast of Sinton in San Patricio County. The entrance is one mile southwest of the junction of U.S. Highway 77 and the Aransas River, which forms the northern boundary of the refuge. Income from oil and gas leases and royalties from other lands support the foundation. The foundation grants three to ten fellowships and other aids to graduate students and researchers annually. Teacher-training programs are offered in the summer, and the refuge has facilities to aid in Ph.D. and master's degree studies. The foundation supports publication of research and has helped publish a monograph series by the Journal of Wildlife Management and articles in the Journal of Mammalogy. Among the books and studies sponsored by the foundation are Grasses of the Texas Coastal Bend by Frank W. Gould and Thadis W. Box (1965); Flowering Plants and Ferns of the Coastal Bend Counties of Texas by Fred B. Jones, Chester M. Rowell, Jr., and Marshall C. Johnston (1961); and Whitewings: The Life, History, Status and Management of the White Winged Dove, compiled by Clarence Cottam and James Trefethen (1968). The refuge is in the Tamaulipan province and contains a good representation of biota. It is in a transition area between the tropics and the temperate zone and has a greater variety of plants and wildlife than any other area of comparable size in the world. More than 400 species and subspecies of birds have been observed in the refuge or its immediate vicinity. At least fifty-five species of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians have been recorded there, and more than 1,300 species of plants have been found on or near the refuge. The refuge sponsors guided tours for the public and lectures by wildlife specialists.
Houston Chronicle, June 28, 1979. "Where Flora and Fauna Reign," Transgas, January-February 1967.