The National Park Service (NPS) is turning 100 years old in August 2016!  Throughout the Centennial year ahead, we are proudly celebrating our role in helping Americans make meaningful connections to nature, history, and culture.  We encourage people of all ages to explore and discover their public lands in the hope of creating positive connections that will ensure support and enjoyment for generations to come.  Our national parks are often referred to as “America’s best idea,” and we invite all Americans to find what the idea of a “park” means to you and celebrate these extraordinary treasures.

Big Thicket National Preserve strives to play a meaningful role in the Centennial to help more Americans make a personal connection to our public lands and launch the National Park Service’s second century.  Our main goal is to increase the support and advocacy for the preserve in southeast Texas and beyond.  Over the next year Big Thicket National Preserve will attempt to engage new audiences and longtime supporters, with Centennial programs and events which encourage recreation, community involvement, artistic expression, and preservation of our natural resources.

Volunteering is a great way to make a difference and maintain the preserve’s natural beauty for everyone’s enjoyment.  It also provides a terrific learning opportunity for groups and individuals – especially kids!  Be a part of our Centennial program to “adopt” portions of our hiking trails and most frequently used areas for general cleanliness and maintenance.  Park rangers are also seeking community groups and individual volunteers to plant over 100,000 longleaf pine seedlings and create a 300 acre “Centennial Forest” among an existing 100 year old longleaf pine forest damaged by pine beetle infestations and hurricane events.

This Centennial year, we are encouraging outdoor exploration, fitness, recreation, and education in the preserve through unique and interesting opportunities.  Come and explore your thicket through our trails or waterways, identified earth caches, backcountry travelling, fitness events (running, hiking, paddling), and Ranger-led programs.  Record enough distance either on your own or through one of our programs and become a member of our elite “Centennial Club.”

Each unit and season within the preserve offers a beautifully unique opportunity to learn, explore, relax, and discover your artistic expression of nature.  Your photos taken while exploring could make you a winner!  Our monthly Centennial photo contest provides an opportunity to for visitors to share their photographs in friendly “competition” in three categories – nature & landscape, recreation and selfies, and human history.  Park staff will select monthly winners and winning photos will be displayed within the visitor’s center for everyone’s enjoyment.

With your support through efforts like these, we will reach our goal of connecting with and creating the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates.

Complete program descriptions, including titles, locations and topics for each program are coming soon and will be posted on-line at the preserve’s website, www.nps.gov/bith, and on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bigthicketnps.  To be a part of one or all of our Centennial activities, contact the Big Thicket National Preserve visitor center at409-951-6700.  Keep checking for updates!

About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 407 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice, Twitterwww.twitter.com/natlparkservice, and YouTube www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice.

To learn more about the centennial or get involved, visit FindYourPark.com.