Our work along the Neches River includes land protection as well as establishing recreational opportunities so the river can be enjoyed as an outdoor destination.
In 2016, we worked with the Texas A&M Forest Service to protect 6,899 acres of working forestland near Palestine, Texas. The protected area, known as Bobcat Ridge, includes eleven miles of the state-classified “ecologically significant” Neches River and vital wildlife habitat for state and federally-listed species. Because of this conservation effort, the viewshed of the Texas State Historical Railroad line and water supply and quality for six cities downstream—Jacksonville, Woodville, Lufkin, Nacogdoches, Palestine and Tyler—are permanently protected. The newly conserved forestland will continue to be sustainably harvested for timber, supporting local jobs. Funding for this project came from the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“The forested wetland habitat now permanently protected at Bobcat Ridge was deemed a top-tier ‘Priority 1 Site’ by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service due to its excellent quality bottomlands of high value to key waterfowl species.”
- Julie Shackelford, Texas Programs Director for The Conservation Fund
Big Thicket National PreserveBig Thicket in east Texas was the first preserve in the National Park System. Renowned as the “biological crossroads of North America,” it is also listed as one of the United Nations International Biosphere Reserves.
We have helped preserve nearly 33,000 acres at Big Thicket National Preserve. Most notably, The Conservation Fund made the largest donation in Big Thicket National Preserve’s history when, with our partners, we donated 6,600 acres of bottomland hardwood forest and cypress-tupelo swamp to the National Park Service in 2009. That same year, we helped Texas Parks and Wildlife double the size of Village Creek State Park with the addition of 1,500 acres. The park is located next to Big Thicket National Preserve’s Village Creek and Neches River Corridor units.
Building on that success, in 2010 we helped the National Park Service purchase more than 4,000 acres of former Hancock Timber land. These purchases added more than 800 acres to the Canyonlands Unit of the preserve and more than 3,600 acres along Village Creek, which establishes a continuous habitat corridor for migratory waterfowl and songbirds and serves as a floodplain that will benefit the communities along Village Creek and the Neches River.
Boggy SloughIn 2015, we completed a conservation easement of more than 19,000 acres of vital bottomland hardwood forests along a 16.8 mile stretch of the Neches River—an area known as Boggy Slough. For decades Boggy Slough has been managed as a wildlife and forest management research and demonstration area. The tract provides ideal habitat for white-tailed deer and eastern turkey as well as numerous ducks, songbirds and fish. A conservation easement assures the perpetual stewardship of the exceptional wildlife habitat within the river bottom west of Lufkin, between State Highways 7 and 94.
“Temple-Inland has an impressive 110-year history of managing their lands for conservation values and outcomes. The protection of Boggy Slough further demonstrates their commitment to long-term conservation in east Texas—an area that is one of the Fund’s top priorities nationwide,” said Andy Jones, Texas director for the Fund.
Davy Crockett Paddling TrailIn 2010, we joined with several organizations to christen the Davy Crockett Paddling Trail, the newest Texas paddling trail. This 9.2-mile trail makes a perfect half-day paddle. Paddlers along the Neches might see deer, alligators, otters and many bird species such as barred owl, belted king fisher, wood ducks and more.
The trail will help make the region a sought-after destination for outdoor adventure. “The development of the Davy Crockett Paddling Trail sprung from a community-wide demand for greater access to the Neches River and from a desire to diversify the county’s economic base through nature tourism, as identified in the Angelina County Green Infrastructure Plan,” commented Julie Shackelford of the Fund’s East Texas office. The Angelina County Green Infrastructure Plan offers a strategic approach to the county’s landscape by linking vital tracts of forest, rivers and parkland for needs of both people and wildlife.
Shelly Plante, nature tourism coordinator for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, adds, “The trails help promote habitat conservation through sustainable economic development, while providing additional recreational opportunities to the public. More Americans canoe, kayak or raft than play soccer, making it one of the fastest-growing nature tourism experiences.”
- Press Release: Eleven Miles Of “Ecologically Significant” Neches River Conserved in Texas
- Our Work At Big Thicket National Preserve
- Davy Crockett Paddling Trail
- Places We Save: Wild Havens