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Compromise bill establishes five Texas wilderness areas


On this day in 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed a compromise bill establishing five wilderness areas that comprised almost 35,000 acres in East Texas. The five are Big Slough Wilderness Area in Houston County, Indian Mounds Wilderness Area in Sabine County, Little Lake Creek Wilderness Area in Montgomery County, Turkey Hill Wilderness Area in Angelina County, and Upland Island Wilderness Area in Angelina and Jasper counties. In 1979 the U.S. secretary of agriculture had recommended to Congress the establishment of only three wilderness areas totaling 10,712 acres. In response, Texas congressman John Bryant in 1983 sponsored legislation that would have set up ten wilderness areas in Texas covering 65,000 acres, but the bill went nowhere until citizen support expanded in the district of Congressman Charles Wilson, where three of the wildernesses lie. Wilson agreed to a compromise of five wilderness areas totaling 34,700 acres. That compromise was made possible by the willingness of lumber giant Temple-Eastex to trade some of its land inside Upland Island and Indian Mounds for Forest Service land outside. In response to lobbying by citizen groups, President Reagan signed a bill adding 1,200 acres to the protected wilderness areas in 1986.

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