Nested within one of the most ecologically rich expanses in Texas, Brazos Woods Preserve comprises 681 acres of lush, old-growth forests and wetlands known as the Columbia Bottomlands. Once spanning 700,000 acres, today less than 25 percent of the original Columbia Bottomlands forests remain. At Brazos Woods Preserve, The Nature Conservancy is safeguarding a slice of this “globally imperiled” habitat for wildlife and nature lovers alike. Situated just 60 miles southwest of Houston, the preserve feels a million miles away and offers visitors a chance to relax, get outdoors and connect to nature.
Why this preserve is important
Urbanization and development continue to threaten this region and jeopardize the millions of migratory songbirds that use the Columbia Bottomlands as critically important resting, feeding and stopover habitat. Radar evidence indicates that as many as 29 million birds from 237 species move through the Columbia Bottomlands annually. In total, the Columbia Bottomlands provides vital habitat and protection for over 400 wildlife species.
Additionally, the region encompasses the lower portions of the Colorado, San Bernard, Brazos rivers and their major tributaries, which provide freshwater to more than one million people and critical inflows to the Gulf of Mexico. That freshwater flows into Gulf bays and estuaries, nourishing shrimp, crab, oyster and other marine species and helping to ensure a healthy Texas coastline.
What TNC is Doing
For years, the Conservancy has assisted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and other entities in safeguarding nearly 40,000 acres throughout this region. In 2016, an $8 million contribution from BHP helped establish Brazos Woods Preserve and the neighboring 1,656-acre San Bernard Woods Preserve in the largest infusion of private conservation funding in the Columbia Bottomlands to date. With this support, the Conservancy continues to restore and preserve one of Texas’ most treasured ecological gems, all while improving water quality for the region, protecting habitat for fish and wildlife and enhancing the community’s access to nature.