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CHAPTER XI Conclusion

James J. Cozine Jr. University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER XI

Conclusion

T

he Big Thicket National Preserve now moved from the legislative to the administrative phase, but it was a stage no less critical. A shortage of federal land acquisition funds delayed the purchase of all the Preserve units for a number of years. Meanwhile, timber interests, hunters, fishermen, cattlemen, land developers, farmers, and oil prospectors continued to compete for the natural resources of the Thicket until title to the land passed to the federal government. Nevertheless, by creating the

Big Thicket National Preserve, Congress ensured that the Big Thicket would continue to exist and to influence, as it always has, the way man lives in southeast Texas.

More than any other group, the Texas congressional delegation must shoulder the responsibility for permitting the struggle over the Thicket to last for nearly a decade. Both the timber industry and preservationists desired to save the timber resources of the Big Thicket, although for vastly different reasons. The desire to conserve the timber resources of the region was a common denominator, which the Texas congressmen could have exploited to forge a compromise solution.

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CHAPTER IX Urbanites and Intellectuals

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CHAPTER IX

Urbanites and Intellectuals

F

ollowing the general Big Thicket convocation in Silsbee in December

1968, the Big Thicket preservation movement experienced a transformation. The talk and controversy began to resolve into clear legislative proposals. By 1970, it had become eminently clear that federal Big Thicket legislation would occur. When, how much, and where, were questions that would remain unresolved. Preservationists and timber interests had distinct versions of what the Big Thicket Preserve should be, but the important thing was both sides agreed that a preserve should be established.

Senator Ralph Yarborough almost secured legislation for a Big Thicket

Preserve, but the vagaries of politics left the issue still in the lap of Congress by the close of Yarborough’s term.

The meeting in Silsbee had been called by Edward C. “Ned” Fritz, chairman of the Texas Committee on Natural Resources and a seasoned environmentalist. He had summoned all interested conservation and preservation groups to send representatives to the meeting to decide which areas of the

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photo gallery

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BIBLIOGRAPHY TO CHAPTERS I–IX

James J. Cozine Jr. University of North Texas Press PDF

Bibliography to Chapters I–XI

———. Bureau of the Census. The Seventh Census of the United States, 1850,

Embracing a Statistical View of Each of the States and Territories Arranged by

Counties, Towns, Etc. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office,

1853.

———. Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States Taken in

1900. 10 vols. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1901.

U. S. Congress. Congressional Record. 1966–1975.

U.S. Congress. House. Alabama Indians of Texas: Report of William Toker and

Letters to the Indian Department Relative to the Alabama Indians of Texas. H.

Doc. 866. 62nd Cong., 2nd Sess., 1912.

———. Subcommittee on National Parks and Recreation of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. Hearing on H.R. 12034, Big Thicket National

Park, Texas. 92nd Cong., 2nd Sess., 1972.

———. Subcommittee on National Parks and Recreation of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. Hearing on H.R. 4270 et al. Proposed Big

Thicket National Reserve, Texas. 93rd Cong., 1st Sess., 1973.

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CHAPTER VI Oil Exploration in the Big Thicket

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CHAPTER VI

Oil Exploration in the Big Thicket

I

n addition to timber, the Big Thicket also contained vast deposits of a natural resource that was to become synonymous with the name of Texas: oil. During the first decade of the twentieth century, thousands of wildcatters, roughnecks, and roustabouts poured into the Big Thicket searching for petroleum deposits. When oil was discovered, boom towns sprang up over night. The crude early drilling methods, combined with the neglect of the operators, spelled disaster for several acres of the Big Thicket wilderness. Oil spills killed trees and polluted waterways. The social institution of the Thicket was also strained by the influx of loose women and gamblers who followed the oil workers. Indeed, it was a tumultuous period, marked by a lack of concern for the wilderness. Men were determined to extract the precious fluid even if it meant destroying the wilderness. The mania of large-scale oil exploration in Texas dates from the discovery of oil at Spindletop, just a few miles south of Beaumont. On January 10,

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