The 300-acre Francine Cohn Preserve is about a mile from The Nature Conservancy's Shamrock Island Preserve, one of the most important colonial waterbird nesting islands in the Western Gulf of Mexico. Birds nesting on the island rookery are known to forage in the marsh habitats found here on the western side of Mustang Island. Rare species recorded on the preserve include black mangrove, piping plover, peregrine falcon and reddish egret.
This site is a key marine conservation area, providing essential fish habitat for numerous commercially and recreationally important species. Red drum, blue crabs, brown shrimp, southern flounder and speckled trout are common in these waters.
The acquisition of this preserve is an important part of the Conservancy’s effort to protect Texas's barrier island systems from threats like coastal development, habitat fragmentation, point- and non-point source pollution, off-road vehicle use, and loss of wetlands. A 1999 donation by Marcus Cohn of 22 acres was followed by the purchase in April 2000 of an adjoining 278 acres from a private landowner with the vital assistance of the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, Koch and Citgo.
The Conservancy is focusing on the protection of rare freshwater wetlands embedded within the preserve as well as protection of the ecological functions of the various marsh systems and tallgrass coastal prairie.
The marshy wetlands habitat is dominated by smooth cordgrass, seagrasses and glassworts. Upland areas of the preserve are dominated by gulf cordgrass and seacoast bluestem. Along the beachfront is a thriving population of black mangrove.
Migrating and resident songbirds, shorebirds, colonial nesting birds, raptors and wading birds all use the area for feeding, resting and roosting. Piping plovers, peregrine falcons, reddish egrets, tricolored herons, great blue herons, ibises, roseate spoonbills and abundant waterfowl are just a few of the many bird species using the preserve.