The Big Thicket Association is a 53-year organization committed to the preservation of the history, culture, and environs of the Big Thicket in Southeast Texas. Over time many people contributed in substance to the creation of the Big Thicket National Preserve and have since supported its existence in conservation. Among these the Big Thicket Association know of three local stand-outs who will be recognized this year at the Big Thicket Day on Oct. 14, at 10 am, at Big Thicket Day in the Visitor Center north of Kountze. The awards ceremony is free and open to the public.
First awardee of the R.E. Jackson Conservation Award is Silsbee resident Adrian Van Dellen, as well-known preservationist involved in the establishment of an Upper Neches Wild and Scenic River designation. Van Dellen’s work is showcased in his photographic essay book “Let the River Run Wild – Saving the Neches.” Van Dellen also co-authored a Neches River User Guide and remains as president of the nonprofit, Neches River Watershed Sentinels.
The second awardee of the Thomas Lubbert Superior Achievement Award will honor Davin “DW” Ivans, the Prescribed Fire Specialist at the Big Thicket National Preserve. Ivans graduated in 1984 with a bachelor of science degree in Forest Management from Stephen F. Austin State University, working as a forester with Kirby and Louisiana Pacific timber companies. In 2002, Ivans joined the National Park Service and has since stewarded the land using his forestry training to make site specific prescriptions for Preserve lands. Ivans has served park service deployment in Zion, Glacier, Mesa Verde, Guadalupe Mountains and Big Bend National Parks.
The third awardee for the Maxine Johnston Distinguished Service Award is J. A. McKim III, whose leadership as Chair of the Hardin County Historical Commission has resulted in numerous Texas Historical Commission markers for cemeteries, churches, and local historic places. He supported the Hardin County Genealogical Society’s efforts to establish the Museum of Hardin County in the old bank building. McKim’s has extensive knowledge of the Big Thicket National Preserve and has worked with the Big Thicket Natural Heritage Trust to acquire land for donation to the Preserve. McKim has consistently supported preservation of Big Thicket history and is to be commended for his years of public service and significant accomplishments.