One Man's Legacy:
W. Goodrich Jones and Texas Conservation
ROBERT S. MAXWELL*
O NLY A HUNDRED YEARS AGO THE PINE FORESTS OF TEXAS WERE
still virtually untouched. Such small lumbering operations as existed
made no appreciable impact on the great stands of longleaf, shortleaf, and
loblolly pine which covered the eastern one-fifth of the state. Timbered
acreage and stumpage were in low demand and brought correspondingly
low prices. Reforestation would have been a joke; conservation was some-
thing practiced in Europe; ecology could take care of itself.
In the intervening century Texas has seen the great influx of lumbermen
from other sections of the United States, plus a number of enterprising na-
tive sons, who engaged in bonanza lumbering on a large scale. In fifty years
they cut some sixty billion board feet of choice pine lumber and reduced
millions of acres of timberland to a maze of stumps, branches, and tree tops.
The great virgin forests were cut out, and the Texas pines, the last of the
original southern yellow pine forests, all but disappeared. By 1930 most of
the large national lumber companies had discontinued their Texas opera-
tions and had moved on to new opportunities, most often on the West Coast.
Yet today the East Texas region is reforested with second-growth pine
forests, sturdy, strong, and well managed. Though not as impressive as the
towering virgin longleafs, the new forest provides perhaps more board feet
of merchantable lumber than ever. Wood-using plants and mills of great
capacity and diversity have been developed to harvest and utilize this sec-
ond-growth forest in the most efficient and economical ways. The prospects
are for continued growth and sustained yield for the foreseeable future with
no end in sight. Thus the Texas forest picture has turned the full circle
within a single century. The reasons for this spectacular recovery are many
and varied, but much of the motivating force for reforestation and conser-
vation in Texas can be traced back to one man: W. Goodrich Jones.
*Robert S. Maxwell is chairman of the Department of History and professor of forest
history in the School of Forestry at Stephen F. Austin State University. Research for this
study was assisted by a faculty grant from the School of Forestry, Stephen F. Austin State
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/. Accessed September 23, 2014.