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[Please see region's landscape video]

The Texas Pineywoods are found in a high-rainfall (40-56 inches/year), 17.5 million acre swath of East Texas. These lands include sandy, loamy, and clay soils, and support a range of loblolly pine, shortleaf pine, longleaf pine, and slash pine in the better-drained areas, and a wide diversity of hardwoods in the bottomlands, such as oaks, sweetgums, elms, hickories, and baldcypress. The Big Thicket, in the southeastern corner of this region, is known as the biological crossroads of the the nation, playing host to temperate and subtropical, western and eastern species, ranging from roadrunners to alligators, mesquite to tupelo. This area is dominated by the wood products industry, as well as the oil and gas industry. The major cities of the region include Huntsville, Longview, Marshall, Nacogdoches, and Tyler, although the southern outskirts of Dallas and the northern reaches of Houston and Beaumont are spreading into the Pineywoods region.

Significant protected areas in the Pineywoods region include the Angelina-Neches State Scientific Area (11,000 acres), the Big Thicket National Preserve (86,038 acres), the Caddo Lake State Park and Wildlife Management Area (7412 acres), the Gus Engeling State Wildlife Management Area (11,034 acres), the Little Sandy National Wildlife Area and Old Sabine Bottom State Wildlife Management Area (8960 acres), the Pat Mayse State Wildlife Management Area (7928 acres), the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge (10,000 acres), and the Upland Island Wilderness Area (12,634 acres). In addition, the Angelina National Forest (153,179 acres), Davy Crockett National Forest (160,647 acres), Sabine National Forest (160,806 acres), and Sam Houston National Forest (163,037 acres) hold substantial acreage in public ownership, although with extensive lumbering and mineral activities allowed.

The environmental challenges for the Pineywood region include several problems. Reservoir construction for water supply and hydroelectricity (including dams at Lakes Livingston, Palestine, Sam Rayburn, Toledo Bend, and Wright Patman) have inundated bottomland hardwoods and changed flood, siltation and nutrient-delivery regimes for much of east Texas.

Years of lumbering (the annual cut peaked as early as 1907) and fire suppression in the area have significantly changed the ecological makeup of the region, as indicated by the likely extinction of the ivory-billed woodpecker, and the extreme rarity of the red-cockaded woodpecker, both of which rely on old-growth stands. In addition to logging pressure, the planting of formerly diverse forestlands to even-aged monoculture slash pine plantations has been troublesome: in 1975 there were 550,000 acres of such plantations, and by 1992, the plantation area had increased to 4.2 million acres.

Recent efforts by major timber companies to liquidate their lands, extending over 1 million acres, have raised additional concerns about habitat fragmentation and residential development in the Pineywoods. Residential development is a growing concern for the Pineywoods region: for instance, sprawl from Beaumont is bringing construction to the area near the Big Thicket National Preserve.

Piney Woods communities are represented in the archive by:

Athens Carl Frentress
Batson Maxine Johnston
Huntsville Keith Ozmore
Huntsville George Russell
Longview Richard LeTourneau
Nacogdoches Dan Lay
Nacogdoches Jim Neal
Nacogdoches Larry Shelton
Silsbee Ike McWhorter
Uncertain Fred Dahmer
Uncertain John Echols
Uncertain Dwight Shellman
Warren Howard Peacock
Warren Geraldine Watson
Winona Phyllis Glazer

For more conservation information about the Pineywoods region, please contact:

Audubon Dallas

Big Thicket Association

Caddo Lake Institute

Ducks Unlimited

Forest Trust

Sierra Club, Houston Group

Texas Conservation Alliance

Texas Living Waters Initiative

Conservation History Association of Texas
Texas Legacy Project

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