LUFKIN, Texas, Dec. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In a landmark deal for forest conservation, T.L.L. Temple Foundation, International Paper and The Conservation Fund announced today the completion of an effort to protect more than 19,000 acres of hardwood forest and wetlands in East Texas, known as Boggy Slough. The T.L.L. Temple Foundation purchased the property in fee from International Paper and agreed to donate a conservation easement over the entire property to The Conservation Fund. Located west of Lufkin, Boggy Slough contains some of the oldest and most ecologically significant hardwood forest habitat in East Texas and spans 18 miles of river frontage along the Neches River. The former Temple-Inland property includes 4,500 acres of riverside forestland that has remained virtually untouched for decades.
"With this historic agreement to conserve Boggy Slough, one of the most unique and beautiful places on the Neches River in East Texas, I want to thank The Conservation Fund, the board of trustees of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation and John Faraci, Chairman and CEO of International Paper Company, for their unwavering commitment to the conservation of Boggy Slough," said Buddy Temple, Chairman, T.L.L. Temple Foundation.
T.L.L. Temple, founder of Southern Pine Lumber Company, purchased Boggy Slough in the early 1900s. It belonged to the Temple family until the late 1960s. Boggy Slough operated as a wildlife and forest management research and demonstration area under Temple Industries, Temple-Eastex and Temple-Inland, Inc. International Paper Company built on that tradition when it acquired Boggy Slough in 2012.
The sale of Boggy Slough to the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, and the Foundation's commitment to donate a conservation easement across the property to The Conservation Fund, ensures that the land will be protected and managed sustainably as a working forest in perpetuity.
"Today is a tremendous day for East Texas conservation," said The Conservation Fund's CEO, Larry Selzer. "There is no land more significant or more important to the future of the Neches River, the wildlife or character of East Texas than Boggy Slough. We are grateful to T.L.L. Temple Foundation for donating the easement to The Conservation Fund and to International Paper for being such an excellent steward of the land."
Often called Texas' last "wild" river, the 416-mile Neches River is truly one of the state's least discovered natural resources. The river's slow moving water along with its pine and bottomland hardwood forests has been a part of eastern Texas' history and culture for thousands of years, dating back to when Native Americans and early European settlers depended on the river and its forests for food and shelter. Healthy forestlands across east Texas, including Boggy Slough, are important habitat for white-tailed deer and eastern turkey as well as numerous ducks, songbirds and fish. Its sloughs and oxbows host two sites home to the threatened Neches River rose-mallow.
"International Paper is proud of our conservation heritage and our partnerships with organizations like The Conservation Fund. The conservation of Boggy Slough is the latest example of our company's commitment to protecting and restoring forest ecosystems for future generations," said International Paper Chairman and CEO John Faraci.
Earlier this year, International Paper committed $7.5 million over five years to the Forestland Stewards Initiative, a partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). This effort will restore native forests, strengthen important fish and wildlife populations and protect watersheds in eight states across the Southeastern United States, including east Texas. NFWF will leverage the IP contribution for a total program impact of $30 million.
Nationally, 75 million acres of forestland changed hands over the past decade, including 4 million acres in Texas alone. The protection of Boggy Slough builds on a conservation corridor of linked lands along the river, including the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge, Davy Crockett and Angelina National Forests and the Big Thicket National Preserve.
About the T.L.L. Temple Foundation
The T.L.L. Temple Foundation was established in 1962 by Georgie Temple Munz to honor her father, T.L.L. Temple. It was her wish to create a charitable foundation that would operate primarily to improve the quality of life for the inhabitants of Deep East Texas. The foundation supports organizations devoted to programs in the areas in education, public health, public affairs, human services, arts and culture, and the environment. Since its inception, the T.L.L. Temple Foundation has been committed to supporting environmental initiatives devoted to the conservation of forest lands and river systems, and the preservation of native plant and wildlife species—to protect and ensure the perpetuity of these significant natural resources.
About International Paper
International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a global leader in packaging and paper with manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Russia, Asia and North Africa. Its businesses include industrial and consumer packaging and uncoated papers, complemented by xpedx, the company's North American distribution company. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., the company employs approximately 70,000 people and is strategically located in more than 24 countries serving customers worldwide. International Paper net sales for 2012 were $28 billion. For more information about International Paper, its products and stewardship efforts, visit internationalpaper.com.
About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America. www.conservationfund.org
SOURCE International Paper