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Kountze, TX) – The mysterious Big Thicket of Texas is about to get a bit less so.
Thanks to a matching $75,000 grant from the National Park Service’s 2016 Centennial Initiative and the Big Thicket Association, scientists will be inventorying the flora and fauna of Big Thicket National Preserve. The work will include interested volunteers from the general public who will act as “citizen scientists” in assisting the experts in the inventory. The findings will be listed in a national database, and will be used by managers to provide for greater scientific understanding of this unique ecosystem, better protection of the Preserve’s resources and improved management for the public’s use and enjoyment.
“This is an exciting day for southeast Texas,” said Superintendent Todd Brindle. “Big Thicket National Preserve was established for its biodiversity, but with the exception of common plants and larger animal species, we don’t have adequate knowledge of all the organisms that exist here. This project will give us a much better idea of what really lives in the Big Thicket.”
National Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar said, “With the nearly $25 million Congress has appropriated and nearly $27 million of matching commitments from our park partners, the Centennial Initiative today moves onto the landscape and into people’s lives. It’s a great day for the National Park Service and a great day for scientific discovery at Big Thicket National Preserve.”
The National Park Centennial Initiative is a 10-year program to reinvigorate America’s national parks and prepare them for a second century. The initiative includes a focus on increased funding for park operations plus a President’s Challenge: up to $100 million a year in federal funds to match $100 million a year in philanthropic donations to the National Park Service.
“This is how we put our Centennial goals on the ground and it’s quite a beginning,” Bomar said. “We have 110 programs and projects involving more than 130 individual, public and non-profit partners benefitting 76 national parks in 38 states and the District of Columbia.”
Big Thicket’s project is known as the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI.) It is a partnership with the Big Thicket Association, a non-profit corporation organized exclusively for charitable, educational, and scientific purposes, including environmental and conservation education, research and support. BTA has provided $75,000 in grant money, which was matched by the NPS 2016 Centennial Initiative for a total of $150,000.
Specifically, the money will be used to:
* Increase support for Taxonomic Working Groups (TWiGs), the expert-led inventory units
* Increase citizen outreach through special events such as BioBlitzes
* Create and maintain exhibits in the Big Thicket National Preserve Visitor Center
* Develop a website to track all species added to the inventory and to provide updates on coming events
* Establish and maintain a comprehensive database for Big Thicket flora and fauna
The next ATBI event that is planned is a BioBlitz on June 13 & 14, 2008. The event will feature several experts leading inventories, as well as booths and seminars on issues relating to the Big Thicket. The location is the Big Thicket National Preserve Visitor Center. The public is encouraged to attend.
For a complete list of the 2008 National Park Service Centennial Challenge projects and programs please visit www.nps.gov/2016 .