“It’s very rewarding to watch a project so many people and organizations worked on for such a long time begin to reach its potential.”
So says TCA’s Dr. Michael Banks, who also serves as co-chair of our partner group, Friends of the Neches River.
For 15 years, since before it was even created, Texas Conservation Alliance and Friends of the Neches River have promoted, lobbied for, experienced, tended, and loved the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge. TCA and FNR generated a score of media features, garnered 15,000 signatures, and lobbied hard to get the refuge established. We’ve supported land acquisition to expand the refuge to over 4,500 acres. We helped organize a “friends of the refuge” group and sweated our way through trail building and infrastructure repair.
Located on the Neches River between Jacksonville and Palestine, the Neches Refuge is on the cusp of being open to the public. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has selected the on-site manager, Leo Gustafson. Management plans are approved for hiking, picnicking, wildlife observation and photography. A management plan for hunting including Youth Hunts on the Neches Refuge is being developed. The offices are up and running and other infrastructure is coming soon. A Texas Parks and Wildlife designated Cherokee Neches Paddling Trail is within the acquisition boundary of the Neches Refuge.
Many groups, donors, and well-wishers have helped along the way. The latest is a grant from the Dallas Safari Club Foundation, which was created to support conservation, hunter education, and getting people outdoors to experience the joys of nature. A particular focus of the DSC Foundation is promoting the North American Model of Conservation on which the National Wildlife Refuge System is based. The DSC Foundation grant will fund TCA’s input into the refuge hunting program and other TCA efforts to provide Texas families with exceptional outdoor opportunities.
Kudos to the thousands of people who have helped make the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge a haven for wildlife and, soon, a fabulous site for outdoor recreation.