ZAVALLA, TX (KTRE) - Lufkin conservationist Richard Donovan said he was saddened by the news of layoffs for GE workers in Lufkin but has come up with a way to capitalize on the natural beauty of the region.
"It makes me heart sick because I know of the pressure and the tragedy it is for the families that makes their living there," Donovan said.
For Donovan, the loss of jobs in a major industry meant the chance to focus on new areas to gain money from.
His solution is to capitalize on the beauty of East Texas.
"I try to look at the positive things," Donovan said. "We have a beautiful resource that surround Lufkin in all directions."
Many areas like the cold springs in Boykins Park are hidden gems and for Donovan that means a chance to expose them to more people.
"There are millions of people living within an easy days drive of Lufkin so we should learn to exploit those opportunities and make money from it."
Donovan said his focus continues to be capitalizing on businesses that could bring more people to the Neches River. He believes businesses like canoe rental shops and guides could thrive and he points to the success of the yearly Neches River Rondevous as proof the region could sustain businesses along the river. His other plans include new ways to look at state and national forest lands.
"If I had my say about it I would first put hiking trails through the National forest," Donovan said. "We can have driving paths where people could drive and see the forest."
Donovan and other conservationist will be having a yearly conference in downtown Lufkin, Sept.26 starting at 2 p.m.
"It is free for anyone to go to," Donovan said. "We have great speakers and will answer any questions and listen to any ideas people may have."