It’s that abundance of water explains the similarities in wetland communities between south Florida and southeast Texas, particularly the cypress.
But unlike south Florida, the large majority of wetlands in The Big Thicket run along and are connected to riparian corridors.
I’m talking distinct riparian channels … with bank to bank measureable flow … and with sandy oxbows that hide bayous around their corners.
As usual, the US Geological Survey has been monitoring flows going back decades. That makes The Big Thicket another fascinating place to track the water cycle.
The story this year so far has been the absence of rain since the start of July.
That has rivers and creek corridors running at 10 year lows.
And in The Big Thicket, summer is typically the low-water time of year.
That’s the polar opposite to south Florida, where the late summer is rising-water and high-water season.
The Neches River, for example, averages a flow rate of around 12,000 cfs during the spring compared to only a 3,000 cfs flow rate during the late summer.
It’s current flow rate is around 2,000 cfs — thanks to discharges from the upstream BA Steinhagen Reservoir, maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers for, among other things, water supply for downstream Beaumont.
But the summer isn’t always low.
Just last July, a year ago, the river was flowing at 15,000 cfs.
Peak flow events — and high ones, the kind that overflow into the adjacent floodplain, are always just a heavy rainstorm away in east Texas.
That could have been Dolly, but word from the forecasters is that its steering further south.