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Tyler County Booster - Local News
Stories Added December 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk Coun
ty Publishing Company

Big Thicket Preserve looks toward its future

Tyler County Booster

by C.D. Woodrome

The number of staff members almost equaled the number of attendees for the recent series of open house meetings on the future management of the Big Thicket National Preserve. At the Woodville session 15 people showed up. 14 park service personnel were at the meeting. Todd Brindle, Superintendent of the Preserve, scheduled the meetings to gain input from the community. The intent is to take the information gathered during the open house meetings and generate a realistic long-term vision for the future of the preserve that will guide management decisions for the next 20 years. While the turnout at the open house sessions was disappointing, Brindle and other staff members clarified that citizens who wish to provide comments that are pertinent to the management of the preserve still have a little time to do so. Through December 30th, comments can be posted online at http://parkplanning. nps.gov/bithgmp or by sending a letter to the National Park Service General Management Planning. Obtain the address from the Preserve at 409-951-6700. Four management alternatives are being considered to guide the park service in the direction the Preserve will take over the next two decades. The first option is to continue using the 1980 management plan, which has been guiding preserve functions for 30 years. Substantial new or expanded uses of the preserve would not be anticipated. Alternative two would allow the preserve to work with concessionaires, and would provide additional recreational opportunities. Establishment of hunting trails, and low impact campgrounds would be included in this option. Alternative three would provide the maximum amount of protection, restoration, and maintenance of the native bio-diversity that exists in each of the units that make up the preserve. This option would prohibit houseboats, off road vehicles, and personal watercraft. The emphasis would be on scientific study and research. Any new facility of the preserve would have to be located outside the preserve. The final alternative would increase the relevancy of the preserve and the National Park Service to the people in communities around the Preserve, as well as global visitors. Anticipated actions under this alternative would provide a greater array of opportunities, both in activities and facilities for visitors. The Beech Creek Unit, The Upper Neches River Corridor, The Canyonlands Unit, the Hickory Creek Savannah Unit and a large portion of the Turkey Creek Unit are within Tyler County. The Park Service recently completed the Big Thicket National Preserve Fire Suppression and Control office and staging facility just south of Woodville. Although the preserve doesn’t have the awe-inspiring power of the national parks, it serves as a major ecological attraction for visitors from around the world. Superintendent Brindle explained the final management strategy could well encompass some portions of each alternative, dependent on the comments and responses the Park Service receives. From the amount of time, and number of staff made available during the open house meetings, it is apparent the National Park Service is seeking diverse community input. Since it will guide the management decisions for the next twenty years, this is likely an important issue for local communities interested in tourism and the dollars that come with it.

Polk County Publishing Company