Fish and Wildlife Service Approves Texas Wildlife Refuge

Move Blocks Effort by Dallas to Dam the wild Neches River

AUSTIN-The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today the approval of a new national wildlife refuge in northeast Texas. The action, which would protect up to 25,281 acres along 38 miles of the upper Neches River, effectively prevents the city of Dallas from reserving the site for a future reservoir, as it has worked to do in recent months.

"This is a big victory for the Neches River and the forests and wildlife of east Texas," said Environment Texas Advocate Luke Metzger. "This area is one of Texas' true natural treasures and we're relieved Fish and Wildlife listened to science rather than the lobbyists".

With more than 75% of the hardwood forest in Texas already destroyed, the old-growth oaks and bald cypress trees along the scenic Neches river are ranked a "number one priority" for conservation by the federal government. Unfortunately, water developers with the city of Dallas were seeking to dam the Neches to build an unnecessary reservoir.

Although the Fish and Wildlife Service has identified this area for protection as early as 1985, in recent months the city of Dallas hired several powerful lobbyists, including former advisor to the three Texas Governors Cliff Johnson and former Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioner Katherine Armstrong, to push the Service to cancel plans to create the refuge so Dallas could use the site for their proposed Fastrill reservoir. This would have drowned Texas' last best hardwood forests, destroying habitat for wildlife like bobcats, river otters, and the endangered bald eagle.

Environment Texas joined with a large coalition of organizations including the Texas Committee on Natural Resources, the Friends of the Neches River, the Conservation Fund, the National Wildlife Association, Environmental Defense, the Sierra Club, elected officials like Congressman Lloyd Doggett and state Representatives Chuck Hopson and Lon Burnam, and many others in pushing the Fish and Wildlife Service to establish the refuge.

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