The iconic longleaf pine once stretched for 90 million acres across the southern United States, from Texas to Virginia. Today, only 5% of this natural system remains, following decades of agricultural, residential and commercial development. Sandylands Sanctuary is one link within a comprehensive, nationwide effort to restore the iconic longleaf pine ecosystem.
WHY THIS PLACE MATTERS
Nestled along the banks of Village Creek, Sandylands Sanctuary protects and preserves 5,654 acres of East Texas’ great natural heritage. The preserve is a hotbed for biodiversity, where you can find cacti, pines, ferns, colorful wildflowers and wildlife, including songbirds and roadrunners. In addition, the region’s pine and hardwood have long served as the heart of the East Texas economy, providing fiber products and space for visitors to enjoy recreation and relaxation. As Texas continues to grow and develop, Sandylands provides another important value: the chance to experience the diversity and abundance of wildlife and plant life our native forests and waters sustain.
Connected with the Big Thicket National Preserve, the preserve also serves as a corridor for wildlife as they feed, breed, move and migrate through southeast Texas. These same lands and waters are resilient natural resources that help cleanse and filter water as it flows from Village Creek, a major tributary to the Neches River. The Neches River is an important source of drinking water for the city of Beaumont, Texas, and ultimately flows into the Gulf of Mexico, a prime nursery for the shellfish and fisheries industries of the Texas Gulf Coast.
WHAT TNC IS DOING
The Nature Conservancy is working with public and private landowners, including industrial forest land managers, to create and manage sustainable forests on the preserve and in the surrounding region. A primary focus of this partnership is to protect and restore the longleaf pine and wetland forest habitat that once dominated the southern landscape.
Sandylands also serves as a research and demonstration site for land and water management practices; we manage the forest’s preserves using selective harvesting, non-native species control, prescribed fire and reforestation. Finally, we are establishing partnerships to promote regional native seed production for native landscaping, pollinator gardens and habitat improvement.
The Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary is open every day of the year, from sunrise to sunset, free of charge. With opportunities to hike a number of trails and experience unparalleled natural sights and sounds, the preserve is a great destination for exercise, nature study and outdoor time. Volunteer opportunities for individuals, community groups, and corporate teams are available. Contact our preserve staff for more details on activities.