About

ABOUT WATSON RARE NATIVE PLANT PRESERVE
&
ITS FOUNDER, GERALDINE ELLIS WATSON


The Big Thicket has been declared unique by scientists because of its biodiversity. Geraldine Watson was one of the activists who worked to create the Big Thicket National Preserve.  Later, as Plant Ecologist/Ranger for the National Park Service, she delineated the vegetation zones of the BTNP units and collected and catalogued the plant life of the Big Thicket Area.  About four miles southeast of Warren, in an area that was being developed around Lake Hyatt, Watson discovered a site that exhibited most of the Big Thicket plant communities.  She purchased as much of it as she could and, worked to restore it to its original condition.
The Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve (formerly known as Watson Pinelands Preserve) has many rare species of native plants, including seven species of orchids, ten species of ferns, several milkweeds, gentians,
wild azaleas, blueberries, trilliums, violets and four of the five types of carnivorous plants native to North America.
Watson, who passed away April 6, 2012 at the age of 87, published two books: Big Thicket Plant Ecology: An Introduction and Reflections on the Neches:  A Naturalist’s Odyssey along the Big Thicket’s Snow River.  She was also a talented artist, and maintained a small gallery for the display of her paintings, which depict the cultural history of the region, and illustrate some of its remarkable flora and fauna.
Geraldine Watson always steadfastly insisted that she wanted her beloved preserve at Lake Hyatt to be preserved for future generations.  With that in mind, in January, 2009, she incorporated Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve, a 501c3 charitable organization.  She deeded the land to that corporation.  She was the first president of the corporation.
Currently, members of the  Board of Directors are:  Pauline Singleton, Chris Eldredge, Linda Knowles, Joe Liggio and Jim Willis.
The preserve is open to the public at no charge 365 days a year.  Guided tours may sometimes be arranged by calling Pauline Singleton at 281-421-2469 or emailing her at pollytx1@gmail.com.  
Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve is a 501c3 charitable corporation, and donations, while never a requirement for a visit, are always welcome and are tax-deductible.  If anyone would like to honor Geraldine Watson by contributing to the support of the preserve that she loved so much, please make the check out to "Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve" and send it to the attention of Brenda Peck at Citizens State Bank, PO Box 160, Warren TX 77664-0160.
Driving directions: The preserve is off of US-69 in Warren, TX.  From US-69 turn east on County Road 4770, drive about half a mile to the bridge and then across the dam.  At the top of the hill turn left on CR-4777.  About a quarter mile on the left is the entrance to the preserve and a parking area. There are no restroom facilities on the preserve.  
Google map:
Geraldine was profiled in the Texas Legacy Project, which honored Texans who have made an outstanding contribution to conservation.  There is a transcript of a lengthy interview of Geraldine at:  http://www.texaslegacy.org/bb/transcripts/watsongeraldinetxt.html .


Prime Times to Visit


Dogwood and Azaleas………………………..…..…………...………Mid-March to April
Butterflies……………………..…..Mid-March to mid-April with another peak in August
Pitcher Plants………………………..Bloom Mid-March to mid-April; interesting all year
Rose Pogonia Orchid…………………………………….…………………………….April
Grass-pink Orchid……………………………………………………..….May to mid-June
Snowy Orchid.……………………………………….………………..Late June-early July
Chapman’s Orchid………………………….….………..Last week of July-early August
Carolina Lily or Tiger Lily…………………………..………………..……….Early August
Liatris (Gayfeather)…………………………………...………………………..Mid-August
Fall Bloom………………………………………….…….Mid-September though October
Fall Color…………………………………………..……………………………..November
Mushrooms……………………………………………...…….Autumn months, after rains


Birds……………………………………Year-round, especially during the winter months