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 the first national preserve in the National Park System. In 1993, legislation was passed to expand the Preserve to incorporate creek corridors and additional land areas. Today, the National Park Service manages over 105,684 acres of public lands, more or less, in what was the original Big Thicket surveyed by Parks and Cory.
Further recognition of Big Thicket's unique biological diversity came from the United Nations UNESCO Man and the Biosphere program. In 1981 Big Thicket National Preserve was added to the list of International Biosphere Reserves. The United States Man and the Biosphere (USMAB) program, a voluntary program, requires no special programs, management techniques, obligations, or changes in ownership. Program support comes through the U.S. Department of State. There are 47 USMAB sites in the United States. The Man and the Biosphere program is beneficial because it provides a wider reach of scientific knowledge made available through the international scientific community.
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.
Ten distinct ecosystems have been identified within Big Thicket National Preserve. This area has some of the richest biodiversity in North America. 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. Roadrunners watch eastern bluebirds fly to and from their nests in nearly trees.
When you visit the Big Thicket, there will be no grand vistas or majestic mountain ranges to tantalize your eyes. However, you will see, when you choose to look closely around you, a unique assemblage of species, including some that are endangered or threatened. This is the place called The Big Thicket.