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CHAPTER X Consensus and Compromise

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

CHAPTER X

Consensus and Compromise

D

espite the confusion of plans and motives, and the apparent lack of success by environmentalists or legislators to create a Big Thicket

Park, by 1970 there had been a decision. A portion of the Big Thicket would be preserved. Who would initiate it, when, and in what shape, form, or size had not been established. Over the next few years, a multitude of proposals, numerous compromises, countless hours of public hearings, and an untold quantity of print, film, and conversation finally resolved into the passage of an act of Congress to establish the Big Thicket National

Preserve.

The struggle to pass the bill represented an example of the controversy between preservationists and business interests over the use of the nation’s dwindling natural resources. For in the Big Thicket controversy, as is true with many modern environmental issues, the champions of preservation were the urban groups removed from the wilderness environments.

Furthermore, the Big Thicket issue illustrated the gulf between preservationists and conservationists. Timber interests, depicted as villains by the preservationists in the Big Thicket struggle, were in fact ardent conservationists dedicated to the concept of multiple-use forestry. The preservationists, however, sought to preserve the wilderness not because it was good business, or even exclusively to preserve the natural environment,

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BIBLIOGRAPHY TO AFTERWORD

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BIBLIOGRAPHY TO AFTERWORD

Abernethy, Francis E., ed. Tales from the Big Thicket. Temple Big Thicket Series 1. Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, 2002. First published 1966 by University of Texas Press.

Ajilvsgi, Geyata. Wild Flowers of the Big Thicket, East Texas, and Western Louisiana. College Station, TX: Texas A& M University Press, 1979.

Baxter, David. Nature of the Forest: Temple-Inland’s Timberlands in the Twentyfirst Century. Diboll, TX: Temple-Inland, Inc., 2002.

Cozine, James J. “Defining the Big Thicket: Prelude to Preservation.” East

Texas Historical Journal 32, no.2 (1993): 57–71.

Fountain, Michael S., and R. Lee Rayburn. Impact of Oil and Gas Development on Vegetation and Soils of Big Thicket National Preserve. Technical Report,

No. 5. College Station, TX: National Park Service Cooperative Park Studies Unit, Texas A & M University, 1987.

Gunter, Pete A. Y. “The Big Thicket: A Case Study in Attitudes toward Environment.” In Philosophy and Environmental Crisis, edited by William

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NOTES TO AFTERWORD

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

NOTES TO AFTERWORD

1. Maxine Johnston, “Twenty-five Years of Milestones: Big Thicket National Preserve,” manuscript found in Big Thicket National Preserve Library,

Big Thicket National Preserve, Beaumont, Texas, 1999, p. 1.

2. See above, pp. 162–64.

3. Johnston, “Twenty-five Years,” 1–3.

4. “Complete the Preserve,” Beaumont Enterprise, November 11, 1981, sec. A.

5. Joe Fohn, “Big Thicket Group Upset by Stalled Land Acquisition,”

San Antonio Express, November 26, 1982, sec. B.

6. Richard Connelly, “Out of the Thicket,” Texas Lawyer, April 20, 1992, p. 16.

7. Steve Moore, “Title Hassles Snag Thicket Land Sales,” Beaumont Enterprise, October 8, 1978, sec. D.

8. “Jewell Honored,” Big Thicket Bulletin, no.11 (September 11, 1994): 8.

9. Pete A.Y. Gunter, The Big Thicket: An Ecological Reevaluation (Denton,

TX: University of North Texas Press, 1993), 99–100.

10. Geraldine Watson, Reflections on the Neches, Temple Big Thicket Series 3 (Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, 2003), 248–50.

11. National Park Service. Briefing Statement for Jennifer Yezek, aide to

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CHAPTER VII The Drive for Preservation

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CHAPTER VII

The Drive for Preservation

I

n 1831, Stephen F. Austin proclaimed that his sole ambition was “The redemption of Texas from the wilderness.”1 In less than one hundred years, Austin’s dream for the Lone Star State had been nearly fulfilled.

During the last half of the nineteenth century and the first two decades of the twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of people poured into Texas.

Railroads and highways crisscrossed the state. Bonanza timber operators, oil explorers, farmers, and cattlemen had whittled away sizable portions of the wilderness. By 1920, the Big Thicket was being depleted as were other wild regions of the state.

Some residents of the Big Thicket began to react against the wanton destruction. In 1927, R. E. Jackson, a railroad conductor whose route carried him through a portion of the Big Thicket, organized the East Texas

Big Thicket Association at his home in Silsbee, Texas. The Association’s motive was not the redemption of Texas, but rather the salvation of the wilderness. Their goal was simple. They merely wished to preserve for posterity a sizable portion of the Big Thicket in its natural state.2 Jackson, a man of strong conviction, personally attempted to preserve a portion of the Thicket by leasing 18,000 acres of land in the southeast corner of Polk

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AFTERWORD

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AFTERWORD

W

hat follows is an effort to complete James Cozine’s narrative, taking off roughly from the point at which he ends his account and bringing it up to the present time. To write such a concluding narrative is to confront serious problems. The creation of the Big Thicket National

Preserve was a single event, one which tied together innumerable strands of history. The development of the Preserve was, and is, a many-sided series of events, which branch out, grow, and only occasionally interact. In the first case, one has many strands of history becoming a single strand; in the second, one has the Preserve becoming many strands of events.

It would seem at first glance that these events could be approached as a simple chronology: that is, as a series of dates of significant events listed according to the order in which they took place. The apparent simplicity of such a rubric, however, conceals its weakness. The history of the Big

Thicket National Preserve is too complex to be constructed as a single series. Too many of its factors are contemporaneous, taking place at the same time but without affecting each other. Too many take place in areas outside the Preserve. Too many culminate at different times—if they do indeed culminate. All of these must be described in the present essay. Their sheer diversity in time, place, and character forbids their being nailed down on a “time line.” Inevitably what follows must be like the Neches River: a

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