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Most wetland losses in the southern region over the past 200 years have occurred in bottomland hardwood forests. By 1980 the original extent of palustrine bottomland in Texas had been reduced by 63%, from roughly 16 to 6 million acres. Additional losses have occurred during more recent years as a result of conversion to agriculture and timber harvests; these factors and the need to supply new hardwood chip mills in the region pose a potential threat to the remaining hardwood resource. The Harrison Bayou watershed in northeast Texas contains one of the few relatively undisturbed bottomland hardwood wetland forests in the State. Harrison Bayou is part of the Caddo Lake wetlands complex, most of which was designated a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Treaty in October of 1993. Caddo Lake State Park is one of fifteen "Ramsar" wetlands in the United States; it is the only wetland with this designation in the State of Texas. Harrison Bayou is an important component of the Caddo Lake watershed; it represents a model bottomland hardwood wetland in both structure and ecological function. Three major forest cover types illustrate the diversity of the 600-hectare bottomland hardwood/baldcypress forest at Harrison Bayou. Comparison of wetland forest extent and species composition in 1977 with 1993 revealed very little change in wetland forest community structure.



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