January 26, 2016
Contact: Jason A. Ginder
Early this month, National Park Service staff at Big Thicket National Preserve hosted the first of its Centennial Forest tree planting events in 2016. The keystone activity for the NPS Centennial at the preserve is the planting of a “Centennial Forest” is a year-long longleaf pine tree planting effort. Key to the success of this project are the many motivated volunteers and school students who can watch their forest develop over the next century. Since the start of the year, 35,600 longleaf pine seedlings have already been planted. We hope to plant over 100,000 longleaf pine seedlings by the end of 2016 and create a 300 acre Centennial Forest adjacent to an existing 100+ year old longleaf and loblolly pine forest in the Big Sandy Creek Unit.
During the week of January 11th, ten students from Saint Michael’s College in Burlington, Vermont, spent a portion of their winter break volunteering to plant trees in the preserve. Dating back to 2003, students from Saint Michael’s College have been traveling to Big Thicket to perform service work, tackling trail maintenance, invasive plant removal, and habitat restoration, and this year they contributed to the Centennial Forest longleaf pine restoration effort.
On Monday, January 18, 2016, Martin Luther King Junior Day of Service, in our first public planting event 91 volunteers traveling from Houston, TX, including families, young kids, and citizens of all ages, worked through the brisk morning chill planting longleaf pine seedlings. The preserve’s second public planting day, Saturday, January 23, 2016, saw 103 eager volunteers, some from as far away as Dallas, TX, including 40 local youth, some from Kountze Independent School District, assisting in forest restoration efforts. “We are excited about the amount of community interest in the Centennial Forest planting effort,” stated Big Thicket National Preserve Superintendent Wayne Prokopetz. “In 10, 20 and even 50 years, we hope that people will come back and explore the forest that they helped to plant,” continued Prokopetz.
You too can help us plant 100,000 longleaf pine seedlings in the Big Sandy Creek Unit of the preserve. We are inviting people of all ages to participate in one of the following planting events. We are currently seeking volunteers to assist with the following planting dates:
Saturday, February 6th at 9 am
Saturday, February 20th at 9 am
Saturday, March 12th at 9 am
The Centennial Forest area is located north of Dallardsville, TX, in the Big Sandy Creek Unit of the preserve. People interested in volunteering are asked to sign up for this opportunity by calling the Visitor Center at 409-951-6700. Details about the planting events, including directions to the planting site, will be provided during the sign-up process.
Big Thicket National Preserve is offering special Centennial programming and community involvement opportunities throughout the year to enhance participation in activities, education, and stewardship of our unique natural resources in Southeast Texas. Complete program descriptions, including dates, locations and topics for each program are can be found on the preserve’s website, www.nps.gov/bith, and on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bigthicketnps. Check back often for updated lists of activities, as new opportunities are added frequently.