The Laguna Atascosa is a refuge that is located along the Gulf coast in south east Texas. It is the largest refuge in the south Texas Rio Grande Valley with around 97,000 acres. The refuge is bordered on the east by the waters of the Laguna Madre which flow out into the Gulf of Mexico. This area was primarily coastal prairie habitat until Spanish settlers came in the 1700's and converted much of the land to grazing land for livestock. In the mid 1800's Texas became a part of the United States and portions of the land were developed for agriculture. During WWII the U.S. War Department acquired portions of what is now the refuge and used it as an aerial gun and bombing range. Some of the bunkers still exist with in the refuge.
In 1941 the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed protecting the area because of the large number of waterfowl that wintered in the area, particularly the redhead duck. In March of 1946 the refuge was established by Congress. It has been designated as a "globally important bird area" by the American Bird Conservancy. It is an important migratory stop for numerous species of birds. There have been 417 species of birds recorded in the refuge which is more then any other refuge into the United States. A number of endangered species can also be found in the refuge including ocelots, jaguarundi, Kemp's ridley sea turtle and the Aplomado falcons, which were reintroduced by The Peregrine Fund in the 1980's,