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The Neches River (//; Alibamu: Nìichi) flows for 416 miles (669 km) through east Texas to its mouth on Sabine Lake near the Rainbow Bridge. Two major reservoirs, Lake Palestine and B. A. Steinhagen Reservoir are located on the Neches. Several cities are located along the Neches River Basin, including Evadale, Tyler, Lufkin, Silsbee, Beaumont, Vidor, Port Neches, Nederland, Groves, and Port Arthur.
From Lake B.A. Steinhagen down to Beaumont, the Neches River flows through the 97,000 acres (390 km2) Big Thicket National Preserve. This important ecosphere preserves the area where several ecosystems converge - an event that harkens back to the last glacial period. The Big Thicket Visitor Center is off U.S. Highway 69 several miles north of Kountze.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service purchased land along the Neches River 2006 for the creation of the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge currently covers 1-acre (4,000 m2), but is proposed for 25,000 acres (100 km2). The refuge is to include land on which Dallas had proposed to build a reservoir to meet the water needs of the city and its surrounding suburbs. Tentatively named Lake Fastrill, this reservoir was not scheduled to be built until 2050. Dam proponents say that the wildlife refuge was put there in order to block the dam from ever being erected. The city of Dallas and the Texas Water Development Board filed a lawsuit in 2007 against the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, claiming the wildlife refuge was established without considering the economic and environmental impacts. However, in February 2010 the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, paving the way for the acquisition of lands for the wildlife refuge.