Texas Forest Service

By: Everett F. Evans and D. A. Anderson

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: May 14, 2019

The Texas Forest Service was established as a result of the organization of the Texas Forestry Association in 1914 and the forestry law passed by the Texas legislature in 1915. That law provided for appointment of a state forester by the board of directors of Texas A&M College and the establishment of a department of forestry in the college and gave the directors the power to purchase lands suitable for the production of timber as state forests. The objectives of the Texas Forest Service were to persuade and aid private owners of forest land in practicing forestry and converting submarginal agricultural lands to productive forests; to protect private forest lands against forest wildfires, insects, and disease; to inform the public of the contribution that forests, a renewable natural resource, make to the economy of the state; to educate Texans in uses and abuses of forest products; and to assist forest products industries in developing new products and improving production techniques. A division of forestry was established in the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, and the first research project, a study of the introduction and propagation of forest and shade trees in different regions of Texas, was approved on October 1, 1915. Forest protection and forest management divisions were organized by 1925 in order to initiate forest fire protection in the East Texas timber region. In 1926 the State Department of Forestry was renamed the Texas Forest Service and became one of the four divisions of A&M College. E. O. Siecke, succeeded John H. Foster, the first state forester, in 1917, and was made director of the Forest Service.

State Forest Number One in Newton County, purchased in 1924, was renamed E. O. Siecke State Forest in 1943. State Forest Number Two, bought in 1924, was named the W. Goodrich Jones State Forest in 1944 to honor the founder of the Texas Forestry Association. State Forest Number Three, in Cherokee County, purchased in 1925 and renamed the I. D. Fairchild State Forest, is the largest of the state forests. John Henry Kirby donated to the Forest Service the state forest in Tyler County named for him; revenue from its operation is administered as a scholarship fund by the Former Students Association of A&M. Citizens of Houston County gave the Mission State Forest, site of the San Francisco de los Tejas Mission, to the Forest Service in 1935. The Forest Products Research Laboratory was established at Lufkin in 1940. In the mid-1940s a tree farming movement was organized in Texas-the first in the United States. Landowners were encouraged to grow trees, and the Indian Mound Nursery was established near Alto in Cherokee County to raise seedlings for farmers and forest industries.

After the activation of the Texas A&M College System in 1948, the Texas Forest Service was given autonomy under the vice chancellor for agriculture, and A. D. Folweiler became director in 1949. In the 1950s the four departments of the service, Forest Management, Forest Fire Control, Forest Products, and Forest Research and Education, were carried on by forest directors in six administrative districts with headquarters at Linden, Maydelle, Lufkin, Woodville, Kirbyville, and Conroe. In 1962 the service began a forest pest control section with the primary responsibility of conducting surveys and coordinating control of the southern pine beetle and other forest insects and diseases that attack pine and hardwood trees. A 1,800-acre hardwood demonstration forest in Cass County was leased for twenty-five years in 1964 for the purpose of continuing timber production and water conservation, as well as to serve as a habitat for wildlife.

In 1971 the service employed a silviculturist in Lubbock to assist landowners in making windbreaks for the protection of their land. The agency established an urban forestry program in 1973 to help city governments in the development of land for forests. That same year it initiated and administered a rural fire protection program and provided training to volunteer firefighters across the state. The service provided technical assistance to the Texas Reforestation Foundation, established in 1981, designed to assist landowners in reforestation, and funded with private contributions. In 1984 the Paul N. Masterson Memorial Forest, 520 acres in Jasper County, was donated to the agency. In the 1990s the Texas Forest Service continued to provide assistance to timber owners and forest products manufacturers. It maintained an inventory of Texas timber and timber harvests, engaged in research for pest control and tree improvement, and enforced state forestry laws regarding insect and disease epidemics. It operated two seedling nurseries: Indian Mound Nursery in Cherokee County and West Texas Nursery in Lubbock. The five state forests, ranging from 520 to almost 2,900 acres, totalled over 7,500 acres. Various service programs were carried out by five area foresters and thirteen district foresters. The Fire Control Department and Forest Products and Pest Control laboratories were located in the Cudlipp Forestry Center at Lufkin. Texas A&M University housed the Forest Management and Environment departments, the Forest Genetics Laboratory, and the service's director's office.

David Lane Chapman, An Administrative History of the Texas Forest Service, 1915–1975 (Ph.D. dissertation, Texas A&M University, 1981). Howard E. Weaver, ed., A Manual of Forestry (Texas Forest Service Bulletin 45, College Station, November 1952). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Everett F. Evans and D. A. Anderson, “Texas Forest Service,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-forest-service.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 14, 2019