How we operate
Willacy County Navigation District owns and operates all of the property known as Port Mansfield, an area of approximately 1760 acres; the Navigation District enters into leases for both commercial and residential purposes for up to thirty (30) years. Each commercial lease will be for a described purpose and at rates that are set by the Board of Navigation and Canal Commissioners. The Port is governed by three commissioners that are elected by the voters of the District, which comprises the north 2/3 of Willacy County. Commissioners serve for 6 year terms and elections are held during odd numbered years for the three staggered terms. The commissioners hold their monthly meetings in the Raymondville office on the second Wednesday at 8:15AM and a “public comment”segment is included in each agenda. The District has regulations and ordinances for the day to day governing of the town and harbor; a set is available for reference and copying purposes in the harbor office.
Then and Now
Port Mansfield started out as a small fishing village on Red Fish Bay, twenty-seven miles east of Raymondville. Charlie Johnson, an area developer, started promoting Red Fish Bay by building very substantial wharves into the bay.
In 1948, a navigation district was created to take advantage of the Laguna Madre Bay. In 1950, the town was named Port Mansfield to honor Texas Congressman Joseph J. Mansfield who served as Chairman of the House River and Harbors Committee and had pushed and worked for legislation creating the intracoastal canal from Corpus Christi to Brownsville. In 1954, a canal was dredged across Padre Island, opening Red Fish Bay to Laguna Madre. The channel was deepened in 1962 and a Coast Guard facility was built as an aid to navigation.
Port Mansfield has become one of the top ten fishing areas of the U.S. with a well-known annual fishing tournament. The surrounding salt flats and small spoil islands create an ideal condition for many migratory birds and is a favorite among many bird watchers.