SILSBEE -- The Nature Conservancy’s Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary in Silsbee will be closed until further notice due to flood damage sustained during Hurricane Harvey.
The 5,654-acre property located approximately 20 miles north of Beaumont in Silsbee is a designated stop on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail and considered one of the top 500 birding destinations in the United States. It contains a rare combination of swamp, open-floor forest and southern pinelands to create a preserve with remarkable diversity, sustaining 582 plant species and 234 animal species. Visitors can typically visit the preserve 365 days a year during daylight hours to hike, bird watch and study nature, or rent canoes and kayaks from local vendors on Village Creek.
The sanctuary is part of a comprehensive effort to protect and restore the longleaf pine ecosystem on the West Gulf Coastal Plain. Longleaf pine forests are among the most rapidly disappearing ecosystems in the southeastern United States. Some 90 million acres of majestic longleaf pine forest once stretched from Virginia to Texas, but only three percent of this biologically rich natural system survives today.
“Like so many parts of Southeast Texas, the Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary sustained major damage during the floods,” said Wendy Ledbetter, forest program manager for The Nature Conservancy in Texas. “In addition to damaged roads, trails, gates and signs, several key structures and maintenance vehicles were destroyed. To ensure the safety of our visitors, the preserve will be closed until further notice. Our hearts go out to everyone in the extended community who was affected by this devastating storm. We thank you for your patience while we work to get the preserve reopened.”
People eager to visit the Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary are encouraged to check The Nature Conservancy’s website, https://www.nature.org/texas and Facebook page for updates. They can also contact Southeast Texas Preserve Manager Shawn Benedict at 409-658-2888.