SABINE COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - Through funds provided by the U.S. Forest Service, the Texas A&M Forest Service acquired the nearly 2,387 area of Fox Hunters Hill, which is adjacent to the Sabine National Forest and Toledo Bend Reservoir in Sabine County.
Gretchen Riley with the Texas A&M Forest Service said the acquisition of Fox Hunters Hill is not an outright purchase but allows for a conservation easement.
“By acquitting a conservation easement on this really unique property, it prevents it from being divvied up into one or two acre lots that would then be sold for recreational homes,” Riley said. “There’s no subdivision or development allowed.”
Riley said the acquisition did not prevent imminent development.
“There are adjacent or nearby properties that have undergone development since we first began talking to this landowner back in the mid-2000s,” Riley said.
The Forest Legacy Program from the U.S. Forest Service along with a donation from the landowner provided the $1.6 million easement. Fox Hunters Hill lies within the Longleaf Ridge Conservation Area, as longleaf pine forests are one of the most endangered ecosystems in the country and the property contains one of the last undeveloped coves of the Toledo Bend Reservoir.
“In this case, Fox Hunters Hill was chosen because of its attributes and its environmental and social benefits to the public and to the local communities in the area,” Jan Davis, Deputy Regional Forestry for the U.S. Forest Service South Regional Office said.
“Toledo Bend Reservoir is a source for drinking water for lots of Texas communities and having natural forest land around that area does ensure water quality,” Riley said.
Riley said the landowner still possesses the land and can sell timber too. That makes it private land, but she says those nearby will notice some difference with the area down the road.
“Occasionally, some of the conservation easements properties have some limited public access through youth hunts and so on, that’s not on a regular basis but it is publicized as an opportunity,” Riley said. “The difference they’ll see is 10 to 20 years from now. That landscape they’ll see will be beautiful forest land. It’s on hills. You’ll still see that viewshed as you drive the highways and so on.”
For more information about the Forest Legacy Program at Texas A&M Forest Service, or to find out if your property qualifies for a conservation easement project, click here.