McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The 100 acres of the National Butterfly Center, one of the biggest eco-tourism attractions in South Texas, is closed this weekend due to what officials call “credible threats” from hundreds of politicians and conservatives who are expected to come to the Rio Grande Valley for a border rally and tour starting Friday.
The center did not open its doors on Friday and will remain closed through Sunday, according to a letter sent to its donors, which was obtained by Border Report.
This has prompted concern from center supporters, and locals who are worried about this weekend’s rally.
“We are writing to let you know the National Butterfly Center will be closed Friday, Jan. 28 – Sunday, Jan. 30, due to credible threats we have received from a former state official, regarding activities planned by the We Stand America event, taking place in McAllen, TX, this weekend,” the letter sent to members and donors read.
The board of directors for the North American Butterfly Association, which runs the center, were to make the decision to close, the center’s Executive Director Marianna Treviño-Wright told Border Report earlier this week.
Treviño-Wright said an altercation had occurred at the center on Jan. 21 involving a political candidate from out of state whose social media accounts tout the upcoming We Stand America events.
“We made the difficult decision to close the center when Marianna was advised by the former state official (whose daughter is the Hidalgo County GOP chairperson) that she should be armed at all times or out of town this weekend, because the We Stand America events include a ‘Trump Train’-style, ‘caravan to the border.’ He said the National Butterfly Center would likely be a stop on this ‘take action tour,’ and she and the center are targets,” the letter reads. “We simply cannot risk the safety and lives of our staff and visitors during this dangerous time.”
We simply cannot risk the safety and lives of our staff and visitors during this dangerous time.”Letter from the National Butterfly Center
The rally and caravan tours to the border begin Friday evening with a VIP reception for high-dollar donors. The weekend events are being hosted by several ultra-conservative, anti-illegal immigration groups, including Women Fighting for America, Veterans for America First, and Latinos for Trump, according to the Women Fighting For America’s website.
Border Report has reached out to event organizers for more information and will update this story if more information is received.
The North American Butterfly Association has a pending civil lawsuit against the founders of We Build the Wall alleging the defamation of Treviño-Wright, who has been outspoken against the building of a private border wall that is located on riverfront property near the center.
Millions of dollars were crowdsourced for the building of the wall, spearheaded by We Build The Wall and its founder Steve Bannon.
“This conduct and this continued promulgation of the malicious lies about the National Butterfly Center being a place of human trafficking where children are raped and dead bodies are found. All of this directly relates back to We Build The Wall and Steve Bannon,” Treviño-Wright told Border Report. “It is a continuation of their campaign to advance a political agenda and support their fundraising, and now it’s extended to the MAGA candidates during the midterms.”
The weekend rally comes after Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday visited the border town of Weslaco, Texas, where he invited 12 attorneys general from across the country for a “border security briefing” where he repeatedly blamed the Biden administration for what he calls a “border crisis.”
Abbott was accompanied at Thursday’s border briefing by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who took the attorneys general on an elaborated border tour Thursday night and announced a joint lawsuit Friday morning against the Biden administration relating to immigration.
Kathleen Walters, a donor to the National Butterfly Center from Port Washington, Wisconsin, told Border Report that she worries for center staff.
“I am a donor to the center and concerned for them. National Butterfly Center, unfortunately, is caught in political crossfire,” she said, due to the property being in the proximity of “the controversial border wall the conservatives want.”
They need more media exposure to tell their situation,” Walters wrote in an email.
Environmentalist Scott Nicol, of McAllen, told Border Report “If it wasn’t an election year, Abbott wouldn’t be pretending that there’s a crisis.”
“Paxton and Abbott are creating a crisis, and ultimately putting border residents at risk, for craven political reasons,” Nicol said.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.