Black Bears in Northeast Texas Face New Threat

Right now, a fight is escalating between rural Northeast Texas and the urban Greater Dallas area that could impact bear habitat. The people of Northeast Texas are battling to protect their land, rivers and streams from a destructive reservoir desired by water planners in the Greater Dallas area. Nearly half of the land to be drowned is the increasingly rare bottomland hardwood forests—near confirmed sightings of bears. There are only a few days left for Texans to protect bottomland hardwood forests for black bears in Northeast Texas!

Black bear in the bushes. Photo by U.S. FWS.
Black bear in the bushes. Photo by U.S. FWS.
Historical reports from early settlers noted that black bears were widespread in eastern Texas. Loss of habitat and excessive hunting significantly reduced their numbers. Sadly, black bears nearly vanished from the region by the early 1900s. Bears have been returning to their historic range in recent years. Unfortunately, three-quarters of their bottomland hardwood forests in the eastern part of the state have been destroyed in the past two hundred years–leaving the bears few places for refuge.

As bears return to Northeastern Texas, the controversial Marvin Nichols Reservoir would flood much of their forest habitat in order to pipe the water back to Greater Dallas.

The ongoing fight between Northeast Texas and the Greater Dallas region began during the regional water planning process to create the State Water plan. Greater Dallas water planners, the Region C water planning group, wanted the Northeast region, the Region D water planning group, to include plans for a reservoir in Region D to serve the water demands of Region C. The State of Texas requires that regions evaluate the threats and impacts to water, agricultural, and natural resources for projects submitted to the State Water Plan. The Northeast region conducted impact studies and concluded Marvin Nichols reservoir would be a threat to the region’s natural resources.

But the Dallas-Fort Worth region, who has some of the highest water-use rates in the state, continues to push for the reservoir in Northeast Texas regardless of the impact to wildlife and landowners. The power to decide now rests with the three board members of the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). Recently, Texas Water Development Board staff submitted a proposal to the Board to force Northeast Texas to include plans for the Marvin Nichols reservoir in their Regional Water Plan.

In light of the local opposition and clear environmental impacts the project would have, it is important to note that the Greater Dallas area can meet its water needs without building this dam and reservoir. Many of the cities and water supply entities advocating for this project have have some of the highest levels of municipal water use—especially for watering lawns. Additional conservation over and above the modest levels recommended in the water plan for Greater Dallas could save much or all of the water that would be provided by the Marvin Nichols dam & reservoir.

Texans have only a couple days left to comment. Defend the homes of black bears and more wildlife in Northeast Texas by standing up against Marvin Nichols Reservoir.

Take ActionContact the Texas Water Development Board and urge them to reject their staff’s proposal to force Northeast Texas to accept this harmful reservoir >>