Boggy Slough: Coalition wins safety for forest, wetlands

Published on Thursday, 2 January 2014 22:27 - Written by By Kelly Gooch kgooch@tylerpaper.com

 A substantial piece of East Texas hardwood forest and wetlands will be protected indefinitely, several groups have announced.

T.L.L. Temple Foundation, International Paper Company and The Conservation Fund have worked together to preserve the Boggy Slough, a more than 19,000-acre area located west of Lufkin, said Jack Sweeny, who is with the foundation. According to a news release, International Paper sold the property “in fee” to the foundation, which “agreed to donate a conservation easement over the entire property to The Conservation Fund.”

“Boggy Slough contains some of the oldest and most ecologically significant hardwood forest habitat in East Texas and spans 18 miles of river frontage along the Neches River,” the news release states. “The former Temple-Inland property includes 4,500 acres of riverside forestland that has remained virtually untouched for decades.”

Sweeny said the conservation measure not only will benefit the river but also the surrounding wildlife and ecosystem.

“It’s really a long-term commitment to maintaining that ecosystem,” he said.

Right now, Sweeny said there are no houses or trailer parks on the property — just East Texas forestland.

“It’s about as natural as it can possibly be, and that’s the way the foundation intends to keep the property,” he said.

According to a news release, Boggy Slough was bought by Southern Pine Lumber Company founder T.L.L. Temple in the 1900s, and was in the Temple family well into the 1960s. It “operated as a wildlife and forest management research and demonstration area under Temple Industries, Temple-Eastex and Temple Inland Inc.,” the news release states.

Then in 2012, International Paper Company acquired Boggy Slough, according to a news release, and now the conservation easement agreement “ensures that the land will be protected and managed sustainable as a working forest in perpetuity.”

“The property was always viewed as a special place,” Sweeny said. “I think for the family members … it had been land they’d been able to have access to since the company started.”3

One thing that makes the area special, he said, is its variety.

“It is this ecosystem that goes from the bottomland hardwood ecosystem into an upland pine system. The land changes. … It goes from low places … to the best pine growing sites in East Texas, so it’s this very diverse piece of property from an ecosystem standpoint,” Sweeny said.

Dr. Michael Banks, with Friends of the Neches River, said the land includes the threatened Neches River rose-mallow plant.

So the conservation initiative “not only preserves the threatened species, but it preserves the river itself and wildlife,” Banks said.

“If you protect where these plants occur then the plants are going to be there.”

Andy Jones, with The Conservation Fund, said the initiative also is significant for water quality and water quantity.

“We were just excited and proud to work with Buddy Temple and the foundation and make all of this happen,” Jones said.

International Paper Chairman and CEO John Faraci said in a news release, “International Paper is proud of our conservation heritage and our partnerships with organizations like The Conservation Fund. The conservation of Boggy Slough is the latest example of our company’s commitment to protecting and restoring forest ecosystems for future generations.”