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New coastal research center to aid wildlife conservation in Texas

HOUSTON, June 4, 2002 A new conservation and research center established by a private ranch and the University of Houston will provide a location for environmental studies aimed at protecting the natural resources and wildlife on the Texas coast.

The Fennessey Ranch, a 4,000-acre privately owned wildlife habitat near Corpus Christi in Refugio County, has partnered with the University of Houston to establish a Conservation Center of Excellence. The center will provide university faculty and students with a site for Texas coastal conservation research and the development of techniques to safeguard the fragile natural resources on the coast.

"The University of Houston and the University of Houston System are increasing their research and educational activities associated with several environmental areas, including air and water quality, ecology and environmental law," said Arthur Vailas, vice chancellor for research and intellectual property management for the University of Houston System. "This partnership with the Fennessey Ranch gives us an opportunity to expand our field-based studies on coastal ecosystems, providing our faculty and students with a living laboratory."

The proximity of the Fennessey Ranch to Mission Bay, Copano Bay and the Gulf of Mexico as well as to the Mission River/Aransas River watershed area will allow the University of Houston to create a world-class research center for environmental studies, Vailas said.

Several agencies conduct environmental research at the ranch, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission.

Brien O'Connor Dunn, owner of the Fennessey Ranch, said, "Rural America is dying. Through private stewardship of the land we can bring urban dollars into the rural economy while saving habitat and practicing good land use."


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Contact: Amanda Siegfried
asiegfried@uh.edu
713-743-8192
University of Houston
4-Jun-2002


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