In addition to rare plants, nearly 186 species of birds live in or migrate through the preserve, including the bald eagle, peregrine falcon and swallow-tailed kite. Several species of snakes, including the Louisiana pine snake, and even a small population of alligators also can be found at Big Thicket.

Established by Congress in 1974, Big Thicket was the first preserve in the National Park System. It is also listed as one of the United Nations International Biosphere Reserves.

Big Thicket Gets Bigger

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.

Why This Project Matters

Having largely been owned by timber companies for the past century, the Pineywoods region of east Texas, which includes Big Thicket and the Neches River, the last “wild” river in Texas, is a natural wonderland that the public rarely got to see. Due to changes in the industry, these timber companies have been selling their forestland, presenting unprecedented opportunities for landscape level conservation and public recreation. Our work in Big Thicket and the surrounding area is ongoing. In addition to land acquisition, we also run an ecotourism and economic development program for the region called the Pineywoods Experience, and we helped established Texas’ largest wetlands mitigation bank, the Pineywoods Mitigation Bank.


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