September 19, 2017
Contact: Jason Ginder
Just a few short weeks ago, Hurricane Harvey left its mark on Southeast Texas. Like much of our community, Big Thicket National Preserve experienced unprecedented flooding, with most waterways reaching flooding levels not previously experienced. Flood waters threatened the preserve’s infrastructure along the Neches River, Turkey Creek, Village Creek, Cypress Creek, Pine Island Bayou, and other lesser-known drainages.
In response to Hurricane Harvey, National Park Service staff from around the nation joined local Big Thicket National Preserve personal to assist in the immediate response and recovery efforts. Today, we are pleased to report that much of the national preserve is open and available for exploration. The preserve’s visitor center has resumed its normal schedule and ranger-led programs are again being offered. Currently 11 miles of the preserve's 40 miles of trails are open. In addition, the preserve is again issuing back-country camping permits and hunting permits to visitors.
Unfortunately, most of the Turkey Creek Trail and 7 miles of the Big Sandy Trail remain closed. Many of the day-use-areas along the Neches River were significantly impacted by floodwaters and still need to be cleaned. Some of the unpaved roadways in the preserve were washed out and will need to be repaired.
Extreme water levels throughout Southeast Texas have displaced many wild animals. Be aware that over the next few days and weeks you may find snakes, alligators, armadillos, skunks, and many other wild animals seeking shelter in unusual places. These animals may be easily startled, agitated, or even aggressive. Please be cautious of displaced wildlife.
Floodwaters have created new hazards in the back-country and along waterways. Banks along creeks and rivers may be soft and unstable. While exploring the wilderness, everyone should be aware of their surroundings, watch out for unstable surfaces, and always tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back.
For general information about Big Thicket National Preserve, visit www.nps.gov/bith or call the preserve visitor center at 409-951-6700. Visit us on Facebook www.facebook.com/BigThicketNPS, Twitter www.twitter.com/BigThicketNPS, and Instagram www.instagram.com/BigThicketNPS.