In the late 19th century, commercial timber operations moved into the pineywoods seeking to replenish their profits by tapping the unharvested stands of virgin pine found here. Little concern for forestland conservation was shown during these early days, as only prime logs at least 24 inches in diameter at the butt with 75 percent heartwood were utilized. By the second decade of the 20th century, highly efficient railroad logging was at full-scale operation in the forests of east Texas. Soon, the lack of conservation practices and the increasing effectiveness of railroad-based logging led to virtually complete exhaustion of the timber resource in east Texas, and the industrial timber operations moved to new areas. Today, the numerous relics of old railroad tramways are found in the Sabine National Forest, lasting evidence of this boom period of the early logging industry in Texas.
In 1934, the Texas Legislature approved a resolution to urge the purchase of depleted timberlands to create national forests in Texas. In 1935, land acquisition began in areas of what are now part of the Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Angelina, and Sabine National Forests. Within a few years, a majority of the land comprising the Sabine National Forest had been purchased. First management efforts centered on fire protection, timber inventory, erosion control, and planting trees. Much of the land had already begun to seed-in naturally, due mostly to the Texas Forest Service's fire protection efforts that had begun years earlier. The two agencies, the Texas Forest Service and the USDA Forest Service, began a harmonious working relationship at the inception of the national forests in Texas.
Today, the forests you see are second-growth or third-growth forests and are a result of Federal forest management under the multiple-use and ecosystem management concepts. Since 1905, the policy for management in the National Forest System has been "the greatest good for the greatest number in the long run." In 1960, Congress passed the Multiple-Use-Sustained-Yield Act that provided additional authority to the Forest Service, directing it to continue what it had been doing since 1905 -- to give consideration to range, timber, wildlife and fish, soil and water, and outdoor recreation.