Big Thicket National Preserve was established on October 11, 1974, to protect its rich biological diversity. A convergence of ecosystems occurred here during the last Ice Age, bringing species from very different habitats together in one relatively small area. Cacti and yucca grow near longleaf pines, while southern magnolias grow near beech and bald cypress trees.
On December 15, 1981, the Preserve was designated an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere Program. On July 26, 2001, the American Bird Conservancy recognized the Preserve as a Globally Important Bird Area joining thousands of others around the world.
Today, the Preserve consists of 15 units covering 112,250 acres of land and water. Visitors travel here from around the world to explore the trails and waterways of the Big Thicket.