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Texas Mountain Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

National Forests


Hikers stop on a bridge
Davy Crockett National Forest, Photo by TxDOT

PINEY WOODS OF TEXAS

Before settlement, east Texas, home to the state’s forests, saw longleaf pine trees one hundred and fifty feet high and often four to five feet in diameter. These woodlands were open and accessible landscapes, harboring enormous mature white oaks, beech, elm, giant cypress, and magnolia in addition to the pine. The arrival of settlers quickly reduced the number of large trees, followed by sawmills and a lumber industry that all but eliminated the original old growth forests, a remarkable feat considering Texas encompasses over twenty-two million acres of land fitting the biological definition of “forest.” The National Forest service stepped in during the early years of the 20th century, establishing a controlled, multi-use philosophy of forestry management that not only preserved remaining Texas forest lands but the attendant jobs and income that would have been lost had a repeat of the 19th century deforestation been allowed to reoccur in Texas. Today, the Sabine National Forest, the Angelina National Forest, the Sam Houston National Forest, and the Davy Crockett National Forest, all located in east Texas, comprise a network of federally management public lands in Texas. The National Forests of Texas represents just over half a million acres of native woodlands under federal stewardship, a large area open for the enjoyment of the public, but actually a small percentage of what was once a pristine ancient landscape.

 

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Read more about forests in the Handbook of Texas Online.