PROTECTION OF NATIONAL FOREST LANDS IN TEXAS
Texas has four national forests (NF), the Angelina NF, Davy Crockett NF, Sabine NF, and Sam Houston NF. The first three are in central East Texas and the Sam Houston NF is just north of the Greater Houston area. The national forests provide timber, outdoor recreation, watershed protection, and opportunities for research. Some areas receive special management for endangered species such as the Red-cockaded woodpecker.
For more than forty years, Texas Conservation Alliance has focused on protecting native Texas ecosystems. As part of our campaign to protect national forest lands, TCA built the support for designation of five areas in Texas’ national forests as wilderness areas, ended clearcutting on 200,000 acres of national forest land in Texas, and has been instrumental in obtaining special protections for tens of thousands of additional acres of forest.
TCA’s forest issues consultant, Larry Shelton, is building on the work of TCA founder Ned Fritz to increase the amount of protected land in the National Forests in Texas. Larry, whose knowledge has led Forest Service personnel to routinely invite his input in the early planning stages of management actions, reviews every management prospectus, including logging, road-building, prescribed burning, development of off-road-vehicle trails, recovery from tornado and hurricane wind events, and management of southern pine beetle outbreaks, to identify areas with exceptional ecological, scenic, or geologic resources. He performs an on-the-ground assessment of resources and works with Forest Service personnel to have streams, bogs, pockets of old growth forest, special geologic features, and other rare habitats excluded from management activities or set aside as Special Management Areas (SMAs).
TCA also provides input as program-level guidelines are developed for management of Texas’ national forests. TCA participates on a Forest Service committee to recommend how recreational dollars will be spent in Texas’ national forests and on committees making decisions about management of wilderness areas.
In 2016, for the first time in 20 years, the U.S. Forest Service will begin a multi-year revision of the Land and Resource Management Plan, the primary guidance document for the national forest lands in Texas. TCA will work with Forest Service personnel to develop ecologically-based management guidelines and to nominate Special Management Areas where logging is restricted and the focus is instead on research, wildlife, and ecosystem protection and restoration. Nominating new SMAs will require Larry and TCA’s experienced volunteers and pro bono advisors to spend many hours in the field, assessing plant-animal habitats. TCA will generate comments from its broad network of individuals and organizations at each stage of the revision process.
To learn more about TCA’s work with national forests, read an entertaining interview with Larry Shelton.
LONGLEAF PINE FORESETS
Longleaf pines once covered more than 90 million acres. Today, less than 3% remain. Longleaf pine ecosystems are home to a variety of animal and plant species, some of which are endangered like the red-cockaded woodpecker. Proper management of longleafs include prescribed burning, a technique involving closely controlled fires to burn away competing plants allowing the longleaf to grow and mature. Watch TCA’s 8-minute video below and learn more about the history and the future of longleaf pines in Texas.
Learn more about longleaf pines at www.tcatexas.org/issues/forest/longleaf-pine-restoration/