Involvement of the Jeffersonian Institute in the Conservation of Caddo Lake

The Jeffersonian Institute, Inc. (JI) is a nonprofit, Section 501c (3) corporation which was established in 1995 to promote the environmental conservation of Caddo Lake, the sustainable economic development of the Cypress Valley Watershed and for developing educational resources. The Institute created the Jeffersonian Model to focus on solving problems facing communities through inclusive participatory involvement and education.

The JIís proven track record includes successful administration of over $25 million in private grant awards and state and federal appropriations for its projects and programs. JI has demonstrated its ability to bring diverse groups to neutral locations and identify points of agreement. The creation and maintenance of successful partnership projects attracts funding sources. Once funding is received, there is strict accountability for the use of funds and the attainment of project goals.

The Jeffersonian Institute has worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since the year 1997 to encourage the creation, funding and implementation of the Big Cypress Bayou Fish and Wildlife Restoration Project in the City of Jefferson, Texas for wetland habitat restoration and a fish spawning area in Big Cypress Bayou in the City of Jefferson for use by over 35 many different species of fish in the watershed. It successfully contributed to the adoption of changes in this and other national environmental restoration projects to include educational features.

The Jeffersonian Institute has promoted the creation of the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge for an 8,500 acre sensitive habitat preserve with educational programming and public access to world-class birding, wildlife observation, hiking, and other low-impact uses.

The Jeffersonian Institute developed a geographic information system training for support and use of geographic information systems for environmental, demographic, infrastructure, and emergency management decision-making.

The Jeffersonian Institute obtained funding from the Texas Historical Commission and from the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism for the Caddo Lake Heritage Awareness and Education Project. The Institute conceived and submitted a proposal for the planning of water trails and a road trail system across and around Caddo Lake. It prepared a 200 page report for use by the funding agencies and the public to identify natural history, historical and archeological sites from the west bank of the Red River to Jefferson, Texas.

The Jeffersonian Institute obtained funding from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, the Houston Endowment, and the Meadows Foundation of Dallas, Texas to design, construct, and operate an environmental distance learning center at Jefferson, Texas known as the Cypress Valley Education Center.

The Cypress Valley Education Center is located in Jefferson adjacent to the Big Cypress Bayou Fish and Wildlife Habitat Restoration Project of the City of Jefferson and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The facility houses offices, classrooms, galleries, and large meeting rooms. Meeting rooms on its first level may be combined to create a space large enough to easily accommodate up to 500 guests. The entire facility is completely accessible to the handicapped.

The JI desires to assist in the roles listed below to implement its projects in the Cypress Valley Region. This Region consists of eleven counties in Northeast Texas and Caddo Parish, Louisiana.

1. Provide training and conferencing facilities for scientists and historians who work in the Cypress Valley Region

2. Assist in project management with accounting of expenditures of funds, job performance, and host the project management office

3. Work to establish partnerships and provide assistance with the creation of academic programs to address health and environmental issues in the Cypress Valley Region

4. Host training sessions for students and professionals from the Cypress Valley Region so that they can interact and effectively prepare for health and environmental issues

5. Prepare reports on issues so that it becomes an educational resource for pre-college and university students and governmental agencies

6. Work with appropriate governmental agencies to provide them with all available reports, findings, and other information related to research and remediation

7. Provide forums for effective discussion of policy and strategic planning with participants from academia, government and non-government industry, and other organizations

8. Caddo Lake has been designated under the Ramsar Treaty as a wetland of international importance. Caddo Lake is now threatened by evasive plants such as giant salvinia which threaten its existence. The Jeffersonian Institute is committed to support all efforts to find solutions to this difficult problem and to bring state, local and national resources to implement these solutions

9. Caddo Lakeís natural history and its cultural history should warrant this region of Northwest Louisiana and Northeast Texas to receive national recognition as a National Heritage Area by the U.S. Department of the Interior.