By Morgan Thomas - email
BIG THICKET NATIONAL PRESERVE, TX (KTRE) - It may be easy for East Texans to take our big, beautiful forests for granted, but their existence is constantly in danger. The forest legacy program is creating a blockade from outside threats.
"A concept is a conservation easement that prevents development, subdivisions, and other conversions to non-forest uses," said Brian Gown, conservation manager.
The effort is being funded through federal grants from the U.S. Forest Service.
"This project is going to protect 12,000 acres adjacent to the Big Thicket Preserve," said Gowin.
They're also in the process of securing more funds to protect an area of privately-owned land between the Angelina and Sabine National Forests.
"Maintain the integrity of large contiguous forest," said Gowin.
Keeping large tracts of forests from breaking up increase their ecological benefits.
"Timber products, watershed protection, recreational opportunities," said Gowin.
East Texas forests are central to our culture and heritage. The forest legacy program is committed to keeping things the way they are so we don't lose any more forests to development.
The way our forests look today should be the way future generations see them. The program's mission of protecting forest's balance of economic and ecological assets is critical.
"You continue to maintain forest products to local markets that are dependent upon the forest product industry and also provide a balance that demand with environmental benefits such as water quality, protect watershed quality, protect wildlife habitats and recreational opportunities," Gowin said.