Big Thicket National Preserve Grows By 3,600 Acres Thanks To The Conservation Fund

Efforts by The Conservation Fund have enabled Big Thicket National Preserve to grow by 3,600 acres. Big Sandy Creek is part of the acreage recently added to the preserve. NPS photo.

It's time to get a new map for Big Thicket National Preserve, which recently grew by 3,600 acres thanks to the work of The Conservation Fund.

The property sold by The Conservation Fund to the National Park Service formerly was owned by Hancock Timber in Texas' Hardin and Polk counties.

The acreage brings to Big Thicket, which was the country's first national preserve, important river corridors, productive wetlands, tall forests, open plains, pine savannas and dry sandhills, according to the Park Service. It also will provide additional opportunities for hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and wildlife viewing, the agency said.

“The acquisition of this land brings us ever closer to completing the Big Thicket National Preserve Addition Act, which was authorized by Congress in order to connect existing preserve units, protect waterways and provide recreation opportunities for visitors,” said Todd Brindle, Big Thicket's superintendent. “We are very grateful to The Conservation Fund for their continued support of Big Thicket National Preserve.”

This purchase establishes a continuous conservation corridor along Village Creek that provides habitat for migratory waterfowl and songbirds and serves as a floodplain that will benefit the communities along Village Creek and the Neches River.

“The Conservation Fund has been working with the National Park Service to expand Big Thicket National Preserve and restore the Big Thicket area to its former glory for more than eight years, and we’re thrilled to see this significant addition completed,” said Andy Jones, director of The Conservation Fund’s Texas office. “We’re thankful to the National Park Service, Senator (Kay Bailey) Hutchison, Senator (John) Cornyn and Congressman (Kevin) Brady for helping us rebuild the unique natural legacy of East Texas for future generations.”

Members of the Texas congressional delegation—Sen. Hutchison, Sen. Cornyn and Rep. Brady – were key to the project’s completion, having secured $5 million in federal funding for the purchase from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The National Parks Conservation Association provided assistance with congressional outreach.

“Big Thicket National Preserve is a national treasure and one of the most biologically diverse areas in Texas,” said Sen. Hutchison. “The cooperative efforts to preserve these areas will make it easier for Texans, as well as visitors from across the country, to enjoy this unique area for generations to come.”

Added Sen. Cornyn, "Safeguarding our forestlands and protecting our wildlife are important responsibilities, and the successful completion of this project illustrates the economic and environmental benefits that can be sustained through the cooperation of public and private entities. The Big Thicket is a valuable asset to East Texas, and I am pleased these lands will be preserved for future generations of Texans to enjoy.”

The Conservation Fund has helped preserve nearly 137,000 acres in Texas, including 32,000 acres at Big Thicket National Preserve. In addition, the Fund launched the Texas Pineywoods Experience, an ecotourism and economic development program for the region, and established Texas’ largest wetlands mitigation bank, the Pineywoods Mitigation Bank.