The Big Thicket of Southeast Texas is one of Earth’s most biodiverse regions, home to more than 4,300 documented species of plants, animals, and insects. Self-taught naturalist Lance Rosier grew up in the heart of the Big Thicket. He was born near the town of Saratoga in the late 1800s, and as a boy, he explored the surrounding forests and bayous, building an encyclopedic knowledge of local botany. “When other boys hunted jobs, I hunted shrubs and plants,” he once said, according to a biography in the Handbook of Texas. As a member of conservation groups including the Big Thicket Association, Rosier was an original advocate for creating a national park to protect the Big Thicket from development by the timber and oil industries. Given his expertise, botanists and politicians called on Rosier for tours as they studied the region and considered conservation measures. Rosier died in 1970—four years before Congress created Big Thicket National Preserve. The preserve’s Lance Rosier Unit, the largest of its 15 units, memorializes his dedication to the thicket he loved.
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