Another oil spill on the Texas-Louisiana coast? Off with their heads! (as the Queen of Hearts says in the new "Wonderland" musical at Houston's Alley Theatre). News of the massive oil spill in the Sabine Neches Waterway at Port Arthur, Texas is another blow to the image of the oil industry and bad news for the coastal wetlands of Texas and Louisiana. Port Arthur is near the mouth of the Sabine River, the natural boundary between Texas and Louisiana. The flora and fauna of coastal estuaries support a large Gulf of Mexico fishing industry, support millions of migrating birds that move throughout the Americas, and support the tourist industry in local communities through birding, fishing, hunting, and other recreation. The Gulf of Mexico shorelines are constantly under threat from hurricanes, red tides, industrial pollution and accidents such as this one. The Texas coast stretches 367 miles between the borders with Mexico and Louisiana, but it has an estimated 3,300 miles (5,310 km) of shoreline (including islands, bays, and river mouths), administered by 18 coastal counties. The Texas General Land Office (GLO) is responsible for managing the coast, protecting natural resources through initiatives such as Recycling, Adopt-A-Beach and Oil Spill Prevention and Response programs. The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail attracts many visitors from around the world to see a rich variety of species on annual migration routes, and includes 41 Texas counties. Oil spills have a decidely negative effect on any natural environment and images of oil spills, however localized, may significantly deter tourism. The birds, however, have no choice.
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