The American Tree Farm System of private timberland management began on the West Coast in 1941, when the concept of a tree farm-an area of privately owned forestland dedicated by its owner to growing and harvesting forest products-was first used by Weyerhaeuser Timber Company in Washington. In April 1942 Alabama became the first state to start a statewide tree farm program. The program was launched in Texas in 1944, under the sponsorship of the Texas Forest Service, the East Texas Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Forestry Association, and the Southern Pine Association. The program in Texas had grown to 2,510 certified tree farms with more than four million acres of privately owned timberland by 1984. Nationally Texas ranks sixth in the total number of certified tree farms and tenth in total acres. The key requirement for tree farm certification is a management plan that includes as the major objective the production of trees as a repeated crop. Other objectives include recreation, protection of wildlife habitat and watershed, and enhancing the appearance of the land. Most of the timber growing and wood processing in Texas occurs in the piney woods of East Texas. This area provides the raw materials for a variety of timber-based industries. The lumber industry directly employs more than 74,000 people and returns more than $5 billion annually to the economy of the state. The piney woods contain some 12½ million acres of commercial forestland, defined as land capable of producing wood as a commercial crop and not withdrawn from timber use. The wood-using industries own about 30 percent; privately owned lands make up 63 percent of the East Texas forestland; public holdings, mostly in the national forests in Texas, account for 7 percent. Tree farmers pay no fees, dues, or other costs to participate in the tree farm program.