The US Fish and Wildlife Service is taking over nearly 250 acres of endangered forest in Cherokee County.

Cherokee County, Texas (KLTV) – The US Fish and Wildlife Service has acquired approximately 250 acres of benthic timber and pine forests with 4 miles of Neches River frontage in the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge in East Texas.

Once covered nearly thirty million acres across the southeastern United States, today only a small percentage of the original hardwood forests are left at the bottom. These ecologically important forests grow in river plains and floodplains, provide a habitat for fish and wildlife and protect water quality.

“Conserving bottom hardwood forests along the Texas Rivers is a top priority for the US Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Amy Luders, regional director of the service’s Southwest. “These forested wetlands provide an essential habitat for a variety of wildlife along with the millions of migratory birds that migrate through North America’s central flight path each spring and fall.”

The 249.18-acre acquisition, made up of three separate tracts, contains mixed pine forest along the higher elevations and lowerland hardwood forest along the Neches River Wetlands. Tree species on the property include loblolly pines, water oaks, southern red oaks, and sweetgum with a range of American and eastern huphorin rays.

The property is a major stopping and resting area for migratory, wintering and breeding waterfowl groups including cliff-less, wild ducks, spotted ducks, and woodland ducks. The property also provides habitat for conservation birds including small yellowlegged, sandpiper, semi-rock sandbird, king rail and harris’ sparrow.

Other bird species that have benefited from the property’s healthy wetlands and forests include the Louisiana Waterthrush, Acadian flycatcher, prothonotary warbler, yellow-throated warbler, Kentucky warbler, red-billed woodpecker, brown-headed hawk, prairie bird, and red-headed woodpecker. And your wild turkey.

In addition to providing habitats for wildlife, bottom hardwood forests play an important role in the watershed by improving water quality, controlling soil erosion, and reducing flood risk and severity to downstream communities.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service purchased the property using the Land and Water Conservation Fund – collectibles and emergency hardship funds. The LWCF invests profits from offshore oil and gas leasing to help strengthen communities, preserve history, and protect national land and water endowments.

This acquisition supports the mainstay of the Biden Harris administration beautiful america To contribute to the goal of conserving 30 percent of our land and water by 2030. This effort aims to support conservation and restoration efforts led by local and voluntary authorities across public, private, and tribal lands and waters in order to create jobs and boost the economy. Enterprise; addressing climate and nature crises; and addressing unfair access to the outdoors.

The Neches River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 2006 to protect the wintering, nesting and migratory habitats of migratory birds in the central flight path and to ensure that the hardwoods in the lower grounds are protected for their diverse biological value.

Although managed for the benefit of wildlife, the 7,484-acre refuge is also a place for people to enjoy nature and the outdoors through wildlife viewing, photography, hunting, fishing, and environmental education programs.

To find out more, visit https://www.fws.gov/refuge/neches-river.

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