Who’s who at the table: players and clubs involved in a project

Published 8:15 am Saturday, April 9, 2016

Editorial by Duane Gordy

In order to clear up some confusion, we will outline the organizations involved, and discuss those that are often incorrectly thought to be associated. The Big Thicket created by an act of Congress is not the same as the Big Thicket Association, the Sierra Club or any other privately created non-profit organization. The Federal System has not, and cannot advocate for or against any project. It is up to the Congressional leaders to take the stand for or against any actions in determining if the project provides a positive or negative impact to federal lands. It is important to recognize in the formation of the Big Thicket National Reserve reduced the amount of acreage that was to be included in the original request.

The reasoning for the reduction was protecting the economic impacts that would have negatively affected business and growth.  Although it is important to distinguish between the role of the Federal Government and the Associations that help protect the environment, we want to include all interested parties in the discussion. The broad involvement of local, state and federal governments as well as local interest groups and residents help insure for the best final product that can be constructed.

Concerns that have arisen range from:

  • Will this project be of any benefit to the Big Thicket Preserve?
  • Will this project create any drainage or flooding problems, as well as is this project needed?

These concerns have and will be addressed as the project moves forward.

We have also taken the time to review the origin and purpose that was established at the development of the Big Thicket Preserve.  The principal purpose of the proposal was to preserve key areas for scientific study, rather than to provide solely for outdoor recreational opportunities. The addition of wetlands as a part of the preserve was only added recently. One of the original tracts of land was actually added as a part of a wetland mitigation that was used to develop specific subdivision development.  Our research is continuing to find the need for an integration of purposes.

The need to use revenue created by economic growth and development facilitates the financial needs to protect and develop new environmental projects. It would be a mistake to judge the outcome of any specific project development effects without first reviewing potential benefits as well as taking into effect any positive economic effects. The narrow views that tend to be presented may be well meaning, however, this attitude makes assumptions that it is impossible to develop a result that becomes a benefit to all.  There is an old saying that reminds us “nothing ventured nothing gained”.  What that is reminding us is, unless we are willing to look at all possibilities we will never know what could be possible.  With a shortage in transportation funding it would be a considerable mistake to maintain a closed-minded attitude unless we believe growth is impossible.

Due to the proximity of Fort Worth, Dallas, San Antonio to Houston/Harris County, the counties of Orange and Jefferson will experience significant growth in that period as well. The main transportation corridors, IH-10 and US 69/96 located here, are already congested and will only become more-so as time progresses. The proposed project will provide added capacity for an already congested corridor as well as providing an alternative crossing over the Neches. As it is, at times traffic comes to hours long stand-still when accidents occur, leaving motorists stuck with no alternate way to get home. With an additional route, motorists will have the option to take an alternative route to go from Jefferson County to Orange County and vice versa.

Duane Gordy is Executive Officer of the Creative Development Services LLC. He can be reached at dgordy@mail.com