HARLINGEN — TxDOT’s aviation division has awarded the Port Isabel-Cameron County Airport $1.3 million in grants for capital improvements.

County officials say the funding will help the airport meet state and local aviation standards by replacing and upgrading over five miles of wildlife fencing.

“The continued development and upkeep of our county airport is essential, and this fencing upgrade that is scheduled to break ground within the next month is crucial for the ongoing protection for South Texas wildlife from aviation activity,” said Eddie Trevino Jr., Cameron County judge.

The airport, which is owned by the county and located about 10 miles northwest of Port Isabel, has four runways with the longest measuring 8,001 feet.

“This project is part of a plan to continue improving the airport and providing safety and accessibility to our aviation customers,” said David Garza, Cameron County commissioner.

Joe E. Vega, airport manager, called it “an exciting project and a much-needed improvement.”

The remote location of the airport near the Laguna Madre and the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge makes the area around it prime habitat for white-tailed deer and nilgai antelope, necessitating fencing to keep animals off the runways.

The airport opened in 1943 during the war as a U.S. Army Air Corps facility. After World War II ended, it became a Naval Auxiliary Air Station until it was deactivated in 1963 and deeded over to the county.

After years of neglect, improvements made to the facility by 2013 led it to be designated with a TxDOT “Most Improved Airport” award.

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