Overview of Emerging Threats

Threats to Ecosystems

Ecological Threats:  The increase in invasive brush species in Gulf Coast prairies and marshes has had a negative impact on natural resources, native plant communities, and management activities associated with them. In the worst case scenario, the exotic species dominate the area creating a monoculture that decreases biological diversity. Read More

Wildlife Species Threats:  A species of great concern to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the ocelot, an endangered cat whose numbers have dwindled to fewer than 50 in the United States. The Mid-Delta Thorn Forest, a biotic community that once covered much of the delta, is a hunting ground for this nocturnal species. Read More



The city of Brownsville is a medium-sized city with a population of 183,823 as of 2016. It is the county seat of Cameron County which has a population in excess of 420,000. Projections prepared by the Texas Water Development Board suggest that by 2070, Cameron County’s population may increase by 116 percent. Read More


Energy Production

LNG Construction:  In addition to the city-scale development described in the previous section, large-scale commercial utility projects are a serious threat to the battlefield preservation. One such project includes the construction and operation of a liquified natural gas (LNG) facility planned on a total of approximately 2,000 acres primarily along the land between the north side of the Boca Chica Boulevard and the southern bank of the Brownsville Ship Channel. Read More

Oil and Natural Gas:  Growing populations in the area mean increased demands for water and energy. Government ownership of land in the Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR does not negate the fact that in many cases, private parties own subsurface mineral rights which brings with it the legal right to explore for and extract oil and gas. Read More


Spacecraft Launch Facility

Another specific threat that is rather atypical compared to that of other battlefield sites is a commercial spacecraft station situated on the Gulf of Mexico at Boca Chica at the easternmost edge of the Battlefield boundary. The commercial spacecraft company SpaceX, headed by Elon Musk, had searched for a site for a new space launching project in multiple states and ultimately chose to build a launch pad in South Texas on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. Read More


U.S.-Mexico Border Wall

The Palmito Ranch Battlefield’s location along the U.S.-Mexico international border presents another unique set of challenges. As previously mentioned, moving people and goods across the Rio Grande was a prominent activity during the Civil War, and indeed throughout all periods of U.S. history. This has not changed and in recent years border security has become one of the most pressing issues in national discourse. Read More


Climate Change

Geographically, the entire battlefield site is within the 100-year floodplain zone. The site is also near the Texas coast facing the Gulf of Mexico. Sea level rise has been the highest in the United States along the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast. Scientists attribute this to changes in the path and strength of ocean currents. Read More