Landmark conservation deal protects more than 2,800 acres next to Big Thicket National Preserve in East Texas

LUFKIN, TEXAS - The Conservation Fund, Texas Forest Service and The Campbell Group, LLC, announced today a conservation milestone: the completion of Texas' first Forest Legacy project, the protection of more than 2,800 acres of forestland adjacent to the Turkey Creek Unit of Big Thicket National Preserve.

The Forest Legacy Program, funded by the USDA Forest Service, works with state agencies and local landowners to protect environmentally important forests that are threatened with conversion to non-forest uses.  Texas competed nationally with 90 other projects and was one of 35 selected for 2008 Forest Legacy funding.  The project also received strong support from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Kevin Brady, who helped secure the program in Texas.  The Conservation Fund, through a grant from the Brown Foundation, provided remaining funds needed to complete the transaction.

"I was delighted to hear the announcement that the Turkey Creek Unit of Big Thicket National Preserve had been chosen by the Forest Service as one of the 35 projects selected for a 2008 Forest Legacy grant," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.  "I also applaud the work of The Conservation Fund, the Brown Foundation, and The Campbell Group in their help with this effort to add valuable forestland to the Big Thicket.  The Big Thicket is an important natural resource to the state of Texas, and I am proud to lend my support to this important initiative."

The state of Texas used the funds to purchase a working forest conservation easement on the property.  Under the conservation easement, Crown Pine Timber 1, LP, a private forest managed by The Campbell Group, LLC, retains ownership of the land as well as the right to manage their land as a sustainable working forest.  At the same time, the easement serves as an important buffer to Big Thicket National Preserve, provides open space and recreation opportunities and preserves habitat for a number of plant and animal species.  Texas Forest Service will monitor and enforce the conditions of the easement.