The Big Thicket
Some 40 years after the Biological Survey, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that created Big Thicket National Preserve. The legislation was signed by President Gerald Ford in October 1974, establishing Big Thicket as one of the first national preserves in the country. In 1993, legislation was passed to expand the Preserve to incorporate creek corridors and additional land areas. Today, the National Park Service manages over 112,000 acres of public lands and water.
Further recognition of Big Thicket's unique biological diversity came from the United Nations UNESCO Man and the Biosphere program in 1981, when Big Thicket National Preserve was added to the list of International Biosphere Reserves. This is a voluntary program that requires no special programs, management techniques, obligations, or changes in ownership. Program support comes through the U.S. Department of State. Big Thicket National Preserve joins 46 other USMAB sites in the United States. The Man and the Biosphere program benefits members by providing a wider reach of scientific knowledge made available through the international scientific community.
Learn more about the Big Thicket Biosphere Reserve.
On July 26, 2001, the American Bird Conservancy designated Big Thicket National Preserve a Globally Important Bird Area (IBA). We join many other IBAs throughout the world in our joint efforts to conserve wild birds and their habitats.
The Big Thicket has some of the richest biological diversity in North America. Ten distinct ecosystems have been identified within Big Thicket National Preserve. Natural processes have influenced the region over the millennium. The last Ice Age brought a character change on the natural systems found here. The cold environment "pushed" or encouraged species to move from separate ecological systems into a close "neighborhood." Today, species from the Gulf Coastal Plains, Eastern Forests, and Central Plains share space with species indicative of swamps and bayous. Baldcypress swamps are a short distance from upland pine savannahs and sandhills.
When you visit the Big Thicket, there will be no grand vistas or majestic mountain ranges to tantalize your eyes. However, when you look closely around you, you will see a unique assemblage of species, including some that are endangered or threatened. This is the place called The Big Thicket.