December 15, 2023

Texas’s Neches River National Wildlife Refuge Expands By 40 Percent

The Conservation Fund and partners secure nearly nine miles of Neches River frontage for wildlife and recreation access 

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Texas — Today, The Conservation Fund, with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), announced the addition of over 3,000 acres to the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in eastern Texas, thanks to funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund (MCBF) and other state and private sources. Today’s addition will bring the total protected area at Neches River NWR to over 10,000 acres. The effort enhances protections for the refuge’s prime migratory bird habitat, as well as recreational and riverfront access for hikers, bird watchers, paddlers and hunters. 

“The additions totaling more than 3,000 acres to Neches River National Wildlife Refuge help further our goal of conserving East Texas’s ecologically valuable bottomland hardwood forests,” said the Service’s Southwest Regional Director Amy Lueders. “This valuable ecosystem sustains a diversity of fish, wildlife, and plants while providing high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities and ecosystem benefits to Texans. We are grateful for the partnerships that have helped make this acquisition possible.” 

The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit dedicated to conserving land and building vibrant communities, acquired the subject properties in 2021 and 2022 from two separate sellers — a family estate and a real estate investment trust — and held them until the FWS could secure the necessary funding for their permanent ownership and protection. 

“Our forestland conservation work in eastern Texas provides access to clean air, clean water and public recreation for visitors and residents of the Pineywoods,” said Julie Shackelford, Texas state director at The Conservation Fund. “To date, we’ve assisted in the permanent protection of over 80,000 acres of river bottom habitats along the Neches River, including at Neches River NWR.” 

Funding for today’s effort was provided by the FWS’s LWCF, the FWS’s MCBF, the Knobloch Family Foundation, the T.L.L. Temple Foundation and the Natural Resource Trustees for the State of Texas, including the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Texas General Land Office, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and FWS on behalf of the Department of the Interior.  

MCBF is a user pays, user benefits program that is generated via sales of Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as Duck Stamps. LWCF is a congressionally-authorized, federal funding source that uses offshore drilling revenue — not taxpayer dollars — to protect the country’s most precious land and water resources. The U.S congressional delegation representing the Neches River NWR area is U.S. Senator John Cornyn, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and U.S. Representative Jake Ellzey. 

The Neches River system contains the largest contiguous blocks of high conservation value bottomland hardwood forest in eastern Texas. The refuge was established in 2006 with support from The Conservation Fund to conserve wintering, nesting and migratory habitat for migratory birds of the central Flyway and to ensure protection of the bottomland hardwoods for their diverse biological value. 

A portion of the purchase was funded with Natural Resource Damage settlement funds allocated by the Texas Natural Resource Trustees for compensation of injuries to creek and wetland habitats in northeast Texas. “The Trustees are grateful to their partners at The Conservation Fund for their help with this project,” said Michael Cave, Natural Resource Trustee Program manager at the TCEQ. “The preservation of these high-value riparian bottomland hardwood forest and aquatic habitats will benefit the people and environment of Texas for generations to come.” 

Map of the Neches property.
Map of the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge area.

About The Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund protects the land that sustains us all. We are in the business of conservation, creating innovative solutions that drive nature-based action in all 50 states for climate protection, vibrant communities and sustainable economies. We apply effective strategies, efficient financing approaches, and enduring government, community and private partnerships to protect millions of acres of America’s natural land, cultural sites, recreation areas and working forests and farms. To learn more, visit 

Media Contact
Josh Lynsen | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 |