Kayakers enjoy paddling along the Neches River.
Photo by Julie Shackleford/The Conservation Fund
Often referred to as Texas’ last “wild” river, the Neches flows more than 415 miles through east Texas, primarily through the Big Thicket region, and into Sabine Lake on the Gulf Coast, forming a natural boundary between many counties including Van Zandt and Smith; Houston and Angelina; Angelina and Trinity; Angelina and Polk; Angelina and Tyler. Tyler is the largest city in the Neches River basin; other cities include Beaumont, Lufkin and Nacogdoches.
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 2011, we worked with Temple-Inland to permanently preserved 4,458 acres of vital bottomland hardwood forests along a 16.8 mile stretch of the Neches River 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 donated by Temple-Inland 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 Trail
In 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.
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.”