|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||October 29, 2003|
|Contact:||Craig Obey, NPCA, 202-223-6722, extension 234|
Congress Approves Funding for Big Thicket National Preserve
“This funding is a big step toward enabling the National Park Service to connect wildlife corridors and protect the diversity of life within the Big Thicket,” said National Parks Conservation Association Vice President for Government Affairs Craig Obey.
More than 1.5 million acres of timber-company land surrounding the preserve have been made available for sale since 2001. If the land is sold for non-preservation uses, clear cutting and development could damage lands up to the edges of biologically sensitive Big Thicket. An estimated $16 million is still needed in the near term to preserve these sensitive lands.
Often considered the “biological crossroads of North America,” Big Thicket National Preserve—scattered across seven counties in southeast Texas—was created in 1974 to protect the area’s rare features and great diversity of plants and animals, including several endangered species.
The Interior bill also includes a modest increase for the operations of national parks such as Big Thicket. However, the funding falls far short of the $178 million increase that the coalition of Americans for National Parks, which counts several members in Texas, including the Big Thicket Association, sought to address critical park needs and an annual system-wide shortfall of more than $600 million.