Big Thicket National Preserve is known as a "biological
crossroads of North America" for the remarkable co-existence
of diverse wildlife found within its borders. The National Preserve
is a biological and botanical wonder located in the southeastern
corner of Texas and near the Gulf of Mexico. In 1981, it was
designated International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations
Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The American
Bird Conservancy recognized the Preserve as a Globally Important
Bird Area in 2001. Today, these designations attract bird watchers
and other biological travelers from all around the world.
The Big Thicket was once part of a four million
acre area of tall longleaf pines and savannas, interspersed
with a rich hardwood bottomland forest. The magnificent 120-foot
tall Longleaf Pine trees provided much of the wood products
for a growing nation. Today only 3% of the longleaf pine in
the nation still exists. Longleaf pine is the prime habitat
for the endangered Red Cockaded Woodpecker: currently there
are no known nesting pairs in the Preserve due to the lack of
Today, the National Preserve only protects 97,000
acres of this area that once stretched from present day Houston
to portions of western Louisiana.
What is so extraordinary is not the rarity or abundance
of its life forms, but how many species coexist here in its
combination of southeastern swamps, eastern forests, central
plains, and southwest deserts. For example, bogs sit near arid
sandhills and eastern bluebirds nest near roadrunners. There
are more than 100 trees and shrubs species, which provide habitat
to a diverse array of wildlife, including 300 migratory and
nesting bird species; over 1,000 flowering plants, including
26 ferns and allies, 20 orchids and four of North America's
five types of insect-eating plants. Fifty reptile species include
a small, rarely seen population of alligators and snapping turtles.
Amphibious frogs and toads abound.
- The Preserve is composed of tracts scattered among seven
counties in eastern Texas.
- The Preserve irregular boundary is double that of Yellowstone
- Approximately 80 miles of the Neches River, the last major
free flowing river in Texas, is contained within the Preserve.
- Although snake bites are extremely rare, every kind of poisonous
snake found in the U.S. can be found here - copperhead, cottonmouth,
rattlesnake and coral snake.
- The last reported sighting of the ivory-billed woodpecker
took place in Big Thicket in 1971. The bird is now considered
- Hunting and trapping are allowed within several areas included
in the Preserve.
is available year-round, though it is warm and humid during
the summer months. Wildflower viewing is best from March to
- Boating, canoeing, fishing can be enjoyed from April to
October. Hunting in specific areas is authorized by a Preserve-issued
permit, accompanied by a valid State of Texas Hunting License,
from October to mid-January.
- Bragg Road, now known as the Ghost
Light Road, is associated with several tales about a ghostly
light. Is it the railroad worker who was decapitated in a
train wreck searching for his head? Is it a gaseous substance
like scientists believe? Or is it a hunter who got lost years
ago searching for a way out of the Thicket? Visit Big Thicket
and discover the answer.
- Birding activities in the Big Thicket are optimum in the
month of April. The Kountze
Chamber of Commerce schedules events tours and workshops
every April. For more information call 1-866-4Kountz (1-866-456-8689).
- Sea Rim
State Park - Explore the shores of the Gulf of Mexico
at this 15,109 acre park. Beach area offers sandy beaches
for swimming, boardwalk nature trail, observation deck, restrooms
with showers, snack bar (summer only), an Interpretive Center
and camping area. Marshland area has boat ramps, observation
platforms and blinds, canoeing and air boat tours.
Creek State Park is only 12 miles north of Beaumont (preserve
headquarters). The 942-acre park includes RV, tent and picnic
sites, open-air pavilion, playground, canoe launch, hiking
trails and a swimming sandbar on Village Creek
- The McFaddin
and Texas Point National Wildlife Refuges are located
on the upper Texas Coast. The two refuges supply important
feeding and resting areas for migrating and wintering populations
- Jean Lafitte
National Historical Park and Preserve was established
to preserve significant examples of the rich natural and cultural
resources of Louisiana's Mississippi Delta region.