What Are the Texas Coastal Sand Plains?

The Coastal Sand Plains of southern Texas is a region comprised of more than two million acres of range land. Its borders are marked by the Laguna Madre to the east, the Baffin Bay and the Coastal Prairie to the north, the brush country of the Rio Grande Plain to the west, and the lower Rio Grande Valley to the south. It is frequently considered either part of the Texas Savanna or the Coastal Prairie.

The area is primarily composed of grasslands and coastal oak motts, but has occasional mesquite, granjeno and salt marshes mixed in. Additionally, it has sandy dunes that result from the strong winds that blow across the plains.

The area was initially explored by the Spanish in the 17th century and settled in the 18th century. However, it remained sparsely populated until the early 1850s, when a number of businesspeople recognized the potential of the region for ranching and established sprawling ranches.

In the process, the size and number of the numerous herds of wild horses that roamed the Coastal Sand Plains during the 19th century was greatly reduced. As of 2016, the region is inhabited primarily by white-tailed deer, antelope, wild turkey, hogs and smaller pigs known as javelina or peccary.