Historic Dogwood Trail Acquired for Preservation
Last updated 2/2/2021 at 9:11pm
Thanks to the Big Thicket Natural Heritage Trust and its partners the future of a public trail in the Big Thicket has been secured.
The almost mile long Dogwood Trail is one of the last remaining "Woodland Trails" – a network of nature trails on private land that were maintained by the Texas Forestry Association. Most of the properties that were part of this regional public recreation amenity have since been closed to public access as privately owned timber lands have been sold and converted to other uses. The Big Thicket Natural Heritage Trust didn't want to see that happen to the Dogwood Trail.
Founded in 1999 and driven by a group of energetic volunteers, the Big Thicket Natural Heritage Trust rallied partners and led a multi-year effort to purchase the 39-acre property from Hancock Natural Resource Group. The Trust secured a Federal Highway Administration National Recreational Trails Fund grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and raised matching funds for the grant from private donors, including three East Texas-based foundations. The Trust used a loan from the Conservation Loans Program of The Conservation Fund, a national environmental nonprofit, to close on the property and bridge the reimbursement style grant from the TPWD. Once the loan is repaid, the Trust will convey the property to the Texas A&M Forest Service. The property will initially be closed to the public while necessary repairs to the trail are completed then opened permanently.
The Dogwood Trail is located three miles east of Woodville and winds through a tall forest of beech, magnolia and maple trees. Mature forests of this type are becoming rarer as many examples have disappeared due to development, timber management, catastrophic hurricane damage, and other impacts. The trail will offer an easily accessible way to experience the natural beauty of the Big Thicket's rich woods.
The Trust would like to acknowledge and thank partners who provided financial assistance for the Dogwood Trail acquisition and renovation project: The Edaren Foundation, The Damuth Foundation, The Pineywoods Foundation, Ms. Maxine Johnston, Texas A&M Forest Service, The Conservation Fund and Texas Conservation Alliance.
Bob Warneke, President of the Damuth Foundation, said, "Several of our board members have walked the Trail, and we quickly realized the importance of insuring that the public had access to such a magical place."
"The community is incredibly lucky to have a group like the Big Thicket Natural Heritage Trust working to strike the balance between conservation and economic development in the community. As more people look to move out of the city or need a weekend getaway, providing them with a new destination for recreation will encourage them to visit the Woodville area. It has been a privilege to be a part of this project and we are inspired by the Trust's commitment to the natural resources and their community." – Reggie Hall, Conservation Loans Director, The Conservation Fund.
The mission of the Big Thicket Natural Heritage Trust is to protect and conserve lands in southeast Texas to ensure that examples of natural landscapes are left intact for today and for the future. If you are interested in supporting land acquisition projects in the Big Thicket area, contact President Ellen Buchanan, [email protected] or visit www.bigthickettrust.org.
Photographs: Dogwood Trail