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Southern Forests and the Weeks Act
The National Forests of the Southern Region are joining the USDA Forest Service in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Weeks Act. The Weeks Act enabled the Forest Service to purchase eroded and cut-over private lands in the eastern United States--these same lands are now conservation success stories.
Today the Southern Region stretches across13.3 million acres and 13 states from Virginia to Florida, and Oklahoma, as well as Puerto Rico. Restored forests in the Southern Region help provide clean water, reduce the chance of catastrophic wildfires, and provide recreation opportunities to countless people. In fact, 35 percent of the nation’s population lives in the Southeast.
The National Forests of the Southern Region are proud to be a part of the Weeks Act success story which enables them to work in partnership with the people they serve to focus on key areas, to restore, protect, and respond. Help celebrate the Weeks Act and the UN International Year of the Forests by getting outdoors to explore one of the Southern Region’s healthy, vibrant forests!
Note: This page is a work-in-progresss. Other national forests here in the South will be added within the near future, so check back on a regular basis.
The Forest began with the Alabama Purchase Unit that was proclaimed Alabama National Forest by President Woodrow Wilson on January 15, 1918. Located in Franklin, Lawrence and Winston counties, land acquisition files show that much of the ridge tops had been cut-over and approximately 40-percent of the land had been cut-over, cultivated and vacated farmland.
Alabama’s four national forests represent the diverse geography of the state, ranging from the Southern Appalachian Mountains, Cumberland Plateau and Piedmont, to the Coastal Plain. The Bankhead, Conecuh, Talladega and Tuskegee National Forests encompass more than 670,000 acres of publicly owned land located in 17 counties.
Eight Alabama communities rely on national forests as a water source. The following cities are serviced by watersheds in the Bankhead National Forest and Talladega National Forest (Shoal Creek and Talladega Districts): Double Springs, Haleyville, Birmingham, Talladega, Sylacauga, Piedmont, Heflin and Goodwater.
Bankhead National Forest
Forest Beginnings:On June 19, 1936, by proclamation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Alabama National Forest was renamed the Black Warrior National Forest. About six years later on June 17, 1942, the name was changed, by an Act of Congress, to the William B. Bankhead National Forest.
Special Features: Bankhead National Forest is home to the 25,000-acre Sipsey Wilderness—the second largest designated wilderness east of the Mississippi River.
Conecuh National Forest
Forest Beginnings: The National Reservation Commission established the Conecuh Purchase Unit in Escambia and Covington Counties January 21, 1935. On July 17, 1936, the Conecuh National Forest was created by presidential proclamation. The Conecuh National Forest initially contained 54,177 acres of cut-over and burned-over lands.
Special Features: Conecuh National Forest has Crawford Bog—one of several spots featuring species of carnivorous plants. The plants are the most conspicuous and diverse pitcher plant bogs in the southeast
Talladega National Forest
The Talladega National Forest is three purchase units combined into one Forest. The National Forest commission created the Oakmulgee Purchase Unit, located south of Centreville in January 21, 1935. The area was first settled in the early 1800's. At that time, stands of timber were cleared for agricultural purposes and to build homes. What is now known as the Oakmulgee Ranger District was about 60 percent cut-over land.
On July 17, 1936, President Roosevelt created the Talladega National Forest out of the Talladega and Oakmulgee Purchase Units. The Talladega Unit was divided into two districts on October 1, 1945, with the northern district, Shoal Creek Ranger District, headquartered in Heflin, and the Talladega Ranger District in Talladega. Thirty percent of the Shoal Creek/Talladega land was cut-over, cultivated and vacated farmland.
Special Features: Talladega National Forest- Shoal Creek District, located in Heflin, is home to Dugger Mountain Wilderness Area that encompasses approximately 9,200 acres. At an elevation of 2,140 feet, Dugger Mountain is the second highest peak in Alabama. Talladega District is a lead partner with Munford Elementary School—the first school in the southeast to have an environmental education theme integration in the classroom and through interactive, educational displays. Oakmulgee District is comprised of 157, 543 acres in Brent. It was selected as a site for a 30-year ecological study by the National Ecological Observatory Network - NEON. The project will provide scientists with data involving changes in land-use, climate change and invasive species.
Tuskegee National Forest
The Tuskegee Land Utilization Project, known as the Tuskegee Planned Land Use Demonstration, was located about two and one-half miles northeast of Tuskegee in Macon County. The original project area consisted of approximately 10,358 acres of land and was purchased by the federal government during a three-year period of 1935 to 1938. The purchase of this land was authorized by the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act, also known as the Submarginal Land Program.
This program's objectives were to acquire eroded, worn-out farmland, resettle the occupants and develop the newly purchased land for other uses such as forestry, wildlife and recreation. Many other changes and actions occurred prior to the area being proclaimed a national forest.
On November 27, 1959, the area was proclaimed the Tuskegee National Forest by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Prior to federal government acquisition, the area that is now the Tuskegee National Forest was one of the most abused, eroded wastelands in Alabama. The land was 80 percent cut-over.
Special Features: Tuskegee National Forest is the nation’s smallest national forest comprising 11,252-acres in Macon County. It is home to the popular William Bartram Trail—the first trail in Alabama designated as a National Recreation Trail.
Ouachita National Forest
Date forest established: The forest was known as Arkansas National Forest on its establishment on December 18, 1907; the name was changed to Ouachita National Forest on April 29, 1926.
Initial acres: 589,973 acres
Current acres: 1,789,666 acres (Arkansas: 1,434,872 acres and Oklahoma: 354,794 acres.
Watershed protected by Weeks Act purchases: The Arkansas River Valley, Ouachita River Valley and Little River Watersheds
Special forest feature –Stretching from near the center of Arkansas to southeast Oklahoma, the pristine Ouachita National Forest is the South’s oldest national forest, created December18, 1907, by President Theodore Roosevelt. Rich in history, the rugged Ouachita Mountains were first explored in 1541 by Hernando DeSoto’s party of Spaniards. French explorers followed, flavoring the region with names like Fourche la Fave River. “Ouachita” is the French spelling of the Indian word “Washita,” which means “good hunting grounds.”
The Ouachita National Forest is located primarily in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma. Outstanding mountain views coupled with picturesque streams, rivers and lakes provide a unique and highly valued setting for outdoor recreation.
The Forest offers high quality nature-related sightseeing and scenic driving as well as hunting, fishing and dispersed camping. Learn about the areas rich history at wayside exhibits along one of the scenic drives or experience unique botanical, mineral and prehistoric resources featured in information and educational programs.
An extensive trail system provides for all types of uses including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and off-highway vehicles (OHV). A variety of services can be found at developed campgrounds ranging from rustic tent pads to full-service RV hookups. Enjoy exceptional water-based recreation opportunities including fishing, non-motorized boating and passive enjoyment of streams, rivers and lakes.
Forest Niche: The Ouachita Mountain Range is the only mountain range that runs east and west. This rugged mountain landscape makes premier sightseeing and trails the focus of the Forest. Seasonal flora, streams and lakes, wildlife, and pristine scenery set the stage for recreation experiences.
The forest contains a number of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails. The most extensive hiking trail is the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, which traverses 223 miles across the region. This is a well-maintained backpacking, hiking trail with overnight shelters in several portions of the trail. Mountain biking is also allowed for some sections of the trail.
In the Oklahoma section of the forest the 26,445-acre Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area and six other designated areas offer visitors a full range of activities with more than 150 campsites, a 90-acre lake, and an equestrian camp. The Talimena Scenic Drive, which is Highway 1 in Oklahoma and Highway 88 in Arkansas, is a National Scenic Byway which meanders through the forest providing amazing vistas and excellent photo opportunities. The Scenic Drive passes through old-growth oak woodlands on Winding Stair and Rich Mountains.
Ozark-St. Francis National Forest
Date forest established: The Ozark Forest was established on March 6, 1908 - original acreage designated approximately 918,000 acres, with several more large designations added throughout the early 1900s. The St. Francis National Forest was established on November 8, 1960 - original acreage designated approx. 20,600 acres
Current acres: Ozark National Forest: 1.2 million acres; St. Francis National Forest: 23,600 acres
Watershed protected by Weeks Act purchases: On the Ozark NF, the watersheds protected by the Weeks Act purchases include: Mulberry River, Lee Creek, Shoal Creek, Upper Buffalo River, Leatherwood Creek, Richland Creek, Big Piney, Little Piney, North, East and Middle Forks of the Illinois Bayou, North and South Sylamore Creeks.
The St. Francis watersheds protected by the Weeks Act purchases include Bear Creek and Storm Creek.
Special forest features: The Ozark National Forest covers more than one million acres, located mostly in northwestern Arkansas. The southern portion of the Forest runs along the Arkansas River Valley south to the Ouachita Mountains.
The Ozark Mountains are actually plateaus, uplifted as a unit, with few folds or faults. The ruggedness of these mountains is due to erosion of the plateaus by swift rivers rising in them.
"Ozark," the Anglicized version of "Aux Arcs," meaning "with bows," was the name reportedly used by the early French explorer, deTiene, to designate the Bow Indians, a tribe native to the region.
The "Ozarks" are really part of the Boston Mountains and the southern end of the Springfield Plateau. The Boston Mountains are characterized by narrow V-shaped valleys that are bordered by a combination of steep-sided slopes and vertical bluffs of sandstone and limestone soaring beside clear streams.
The vegetative cover is upland hardwood of oak-hickory with scattered pine and a brushy undergrowth, dominated by such species as dogwood, maple, redbud, serviceberry and witch-hazel. This makes the Ozark National Forest one of the favorite places for visitors in the spring when the dogwood and redbuds are in bloom, and in the fall when the Forest turns into a brilliant display of oranges, reds, yellows and greens.
The St. Francis National Forest, located on the east central edge of the state, derives its name from the St. Francis River. Most of the Forest is situated on Crowley's Ridge, but some is in the low, flat lands along the Mississippi and St. Francis Rivers.
The forest covers over 20,000 acres and has a variety of the finest bottom-land hardwoods in the country. The St. Francis provides ideal habitat for a large variety of wildlife including whitetail deer, wild turkey, squirrel, raccoon, rabbit and waterfowl. Storm Creek and Bear Creek Lakes, along with the St. Francis and Mississippi Rivers, attract large numbers of anglers to the area. Popular game fish include: striped bass, largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and bream.
Bear Creek Lake is a favorite for recreation visitors seeking outdoor activities such as fishing, swimming, boating, picnicking and camping. This 625-acre lake is rated as one of the best fishing lakes in Arkansas and has five developed recreation sites located near the shoreline.
Forest Niche: The Ozark National Forest offers one of the most unique recreation attractions in the National Forest system is Blanchard Springs Caverns. Located on the Sylamore Ranger District, 14 miles northwest of Mountain View, Arkansas, the caverns offer the visitor a view of the subterranean world below.
The St. Francis National Forest is the only place in the National Forest System where the public can experience the awesome grandeur of the "Father of Waters," the mighty Mississippi River, from the shoreline.
Apalachicola National Forest
Land Acquired through the Weeks Act: The Apalachicola national forest was proclaimed on May 13, 1936. Initially, the lands were national forest acreage: 198,750; other acreage: 107,645; combined total: 306,395.
Current acres:The Apalachicola national forest is the largest forest in Florida at 571,088 acres, which includes 2,735 acres of water. Six watersheds provide fresh water, streams, rivers, lakes and natural springs.
Watershed Protected by Weeks Act Purchases: The Apalachicola Forest contains several watersheds, which include the Apalachicola River Basin, Wakulla Springs Basin, Sopchoppy River watersheds, Lake Talquin watershed and watersheds along the Ochlockonee River.
Special Forest Feature: In addition to numerous recreation opportunities on our waterways and trails - including 67 linear miles of the Florida Trail - the forest offers other attractions such as Leon Sinks, an unusual geological area of caverns and sinkholes. For history buffs, a visit to Fort Gadsden, an outpost along the Apalachicola River dating back to the War of 1812, is a must. Although the fort vanished more than a century ago, interpretive information and artifacts present the colorful history of this strategic location along the Apalachicola River.
Forest Niche: The Apalachee Savannas has stunning displays of wildflowers in open prairies near the Apalachicola River. The forest is well-known for its spectacular botanical diversity, including colorful pitcher plant prairies and one of the last extensive longleaf pine and wiregrass communities still in existence. Two wilderness areas that will give you an idea what Florida looked like before "civilization" arrived. The Apalachicola is home to the largest population of red-cockaded woodpeckers.
Ocala National Forest
Forest Beginnings: Proclaimed on Nov. 24, 1908 as one of the first National Forests east of the Mississippi River, the Ocala National Forest protects many significant archaeological, historic, geological and botanical wonders. Initially, the forest encompassed 207,285 acres. On July 1, 1911 the Choctawhatee Forest was combined with the Ocala National Forest.
Current acres: The Ocala National Forest is located north of Orlando between the Ocklawaha and St. Johns Rivers. Encompassing approximately 383,000 acres, it is the southernmost forest in the continental United States and protects the world's largest contiguous sand pine scrub forest.
Watersheds Protected by Weeks Act Purchases: The Ocala Forest watersheds include the Lake George watershed (upper and lower), Ocklawaha River, Juniper Creek and Alexander Springs Creek.
Special Forest Feature: The Ocala National Forest is rich in water resources with more than 600 lakes, rivers, and springs, including three first-magnitude springs. Each an oasis surrounded by subtropical growth.
Forest Niche: The Ocala National Forest springs are some of the finest and clearest in the United States. Visitors can swim, snorkel, and dive in these crystalline waters year-round. The Ocala is home to the last remnants of the imperiled sand pine/scrub ecosystem.
Osceola National Forest
Land Acquired through the Weeks Act: The Osceola National Forest was established by presidential proclamation on July 10, 1931. Initial acres included national forest acreage: 145,403; other acreage: 16,410; combined total: 161,813
Current acres: Forest encompasses 229,185 acres.
Watershed Protected by Weeks Act Purchases: The Osceola Forest has three major watersheds: the Suwannee River, St. Marys River and Ocean Pond.
Special Forest Features: The Osceola National Forest is a natural gem. These forested woodlands and swamps provide many opportunities for a wide range of visitor experiences such as camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and many more.
Forest Niche: This "flatwoods" forest is a mosaic of low pine ridges separated by cypress and bay swamps. Visitors enjoy quiet, peaceful woodlands named in honor of the famous Seminole Indian warrior, Osceola. The forested woodlands and swamps of the Osceola are remnants of Florida in its original state.
Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests
Land Acquired through the Weeks Act: In 1911, the USDA Forest Service bought 8,456 acres for a price of seven dollars per acre under the authority of the Weeks Act. They were first managed as part of the Cherokee National Forest and, on July 9, 1936, they became part of the newlyestablished Chattahoochee National Forest.
In 1935, the USDA Forest Service acquired 18,013 acres in the Georgia piedmont. At this time, it was not part of the young and growing national forest system in the eastern U.S. In the years that followed, more land was acquired under the Weeks Act and other authorities. In 1959, President Eisenhower issued the proclamation to establish the Oconee National Forest from 96,000 acres of federal lands in middle Georgia.
Significant Watersheds Protected by Weeks Act Purchases: The Chattahoochee, Chattooga, Conasauga and Etowah rivers are just several of the large watersheds in north Georgia that have enjoyed protection under the Weeks Act. The Oconee, Ocmulgee and Little rivers are three noteworthy river systems located in middle Georgia on the Oconee National Forest. These lands provide clean water for the millions of people who live in and around them.
Special Forest Features: Georgia’s national forests are located between and near four of the state's largest cities: Atlanta, Macon, Athens and Augusta. The national forests in Georgia are heavily used and provide unexcelled outdoor recreational opportunities to Georgia residents and visitors from other places. Ten wildernesses are located within these national forests. The Chattooga River is one of only two wild and scenic rivers in the southern region. The southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail is located within the Chattahoochee National Forest. Much historical significance is associated with these two national forests such as the famous Georgia gold rush of the early 1800s and the Civil War which was fought both in northern and central Georgia.
Daniel Boone National Forest
Land Acquired through the Weeks Act: On February 23, 1937 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a proclamation establishing the Cumberland National Forest in Kentucky. At the time, the forest encompassed 336,692 acres. Some of the largest tracts purchased were from coal and lumber companies. Around these tracts, the national forest grew as more land was federally acquired. The forest was later renamed the Daniel Boone National Forest in 1966. Today, the Daniel Boone is comprised of nearly 708,000 acres within a 2.1 million-acre proclamation boundary.
Significant Watersheds Protected by Weeks Act Purchases: Upper Cumberland, Kentucky and Licking rivers.
Special Forest Features: More than 100 developed recreation areas and 600 miles of trail, including the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail, attract thousands of visitors each year. Others come to enjoy the scenic beauty and abundant wildlife. Cave Run Lake and Laurel River Lake are popular attractions on the forest. Other special features include the Red River Gorge Geological Area, Natural Arch Scenic Area, Clifty Wilderness, Beaver Creek Wilderness, and five wildlife management areas.
Forest Niche: Located along the Cumberland Plateau in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Kentucky, the forest is mostly rugged terrain. Steep forested ridges are lined with vertical sandstone cliffs and dissected by narrow ravines.
The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL)
LBL National Recreation Area was transferred to the USDA Forest Service from the Tennessee Valley Authority in June, 2000. It is currently comprised of 171,280 acres.
Special Forest Features: LBL lies in western Kentucky and Tennessee and offers numerous outdoor recreation opportunities. Whether visitors tour The Homeplace living history farm, Elk & Bison Prairie, Golden Pond Planetarium, or Woodlands Nature Station, LBL offers an attraction for everyone. Hundreds of miles of hiking, biking, equestrian, and off-highway vehicle trails wind through LBL. Water recreation, boating, swimming, and fishing opportunities abound. Nature watch areas let people escape the crowds and get closer to wildlife. Visitors can enjoy the amenities of developed campgrounds or experience the solitude of lake shore back country camping. Our motto is come outside and play at LBL!
Forest Niche: LBL is the largest inland peninsula in the United States. It is the second largest contiguous block of forested public land east of the Mississippi. Visitors come from all 50 states and over 30 foreign countries.
National Forests in Mississippi
The National Forests in Mississippi were born out of the soil-eroded, cut over landscape known as the “lands nobody wanted.” Today, the 1.2 million acres of the National Forests in Mississippi are among the nation’s best kept secrets. The forest is abundant in wildlife and numerous recreational opportunities, including hunting, fishing, hiking, nature study, boating, picnicking, and swimming.
The National Forests in Mississippi consist of six forests that cover all or part of 32 counties from as far north as the Tennessee border and as far south as the Gulf Coast.
See the Ouachita National Forest under Arkansas.
El Yunque National Forest
Forest Background: Proclaimed a forest reserve by Spain in 1876, the area was transferred to U.S. and became the Luquillo Forest Reserve in 1903. The area was renamed the Luquillo National Forest in 1907, then the Caribbean National Forest in 1935 and most recently renamed El Yunque National Forest in 2007 to better reflect the cultural values and sentiment of the Puerto Rican population.
Initial Acres: 12,384 acres (in 1903).
Even though the Weeks Act was passed in 1911, it was implemented in Puerto Rico mainly during the mid 1930s. From 1934 to 1945, more than 40 private, state and federal land lots, mainly agricultural lands used for sugar and fruit production, were purchased by the USDA Forest Service. The federal government invested $151,432.65 to acquire 11,435.6 acres at an average price of $11.93 per unit. The Weeks Act was instrumental in almost doubling the forest’s size.
Current Acres: 28,002 acres
Watershed Protected by Weeks Act Purchases: The conservation of six important watersheds were directly affected by the Weeks Act including the Río Grande, Río Mameyes, Río Sabana, Río Fajardo, Río Blanco and Río Santiago.
Weeks Act Feature:
As the owners sold their properties to the U.S. Forest Service, 250 poor families that had lived within their old employers’ lands suddenly found themselves unemployed and with nowhere else to go. Facing this situation, the agency initiated a community relocation program providing the displaced residents with agriculturally suited lands, free of cost, for them to move to. Within 18 months most families had been successfully relocated. Once the lands had been properly incorporated, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) labor assisted in reforestation efforts.
Special forest feature:
The El Yunque National Forest is one of the smallest forests, yet most biologically diverse. It is also the only tropical rain forest in the national forest system and one of the oldest forest reserves in the western hemisphere. As the largest protected area in Puerto Rico, the El Yunque National Forest is an important source of fresh water to the island and an important recreation and tourism attraction hosting approximately 1.2 million visitors each year. It also serves as a natural habitat for one of the world’s most endangered species, the Puerto Rican Parrot. As a leader in tropical forest research, the forest is recognized as part of the international network under the United Nations’ Man and Biosphere program and currently is the only representative of the USDA Forest Service in the “New 7 Wonders of Nature” campaign.
Celebrate the International year of the forest with El Yunque, a world patrimony!
Francis Marion National Forest
Lands Acquired through the Weeks Act: The Francis Marion National Forest was established on July 10, 1936 by Presidential Proclamation, three days before the Sumter National Forest (see below). Named after Revolutionary War General Francis Marion, this national forest, which lies on the South Carolina coast near Charleston, S.C., was originally 236,234 acres.
Current acres: Today the Francis Marion National Forest encompasses almost 249,600 in the South Carolina coastal counties of Berkeley and Charleston.
Watersheds Protected by Weeks Act Purchases: Santee and Cooper river watersheds.
Special Forest Features: Today the Francis Marion National Forest remains a lush landscape of pine stands and wildlife-filled swamps and marshes shaded by towering bald cypress trees. Four wilderness areas, one with a marked canoe trail, offer visitors a unique opportunity to glimpse the wild landscape as it might have appeared earlier in history.
More recently, the Francis Marion has been in the process of recreating itself. In 1989 Hurricane Hugo’s 130-mph winds leveled more than a third of the forest. In following years, the resulting resurgence of young trees and understory shrubs posed a heightened threat of catastrophic fire and presented the forest with an unprecedented problem to dispose of the dense vegetation. Forest managers met the challenge by converting the chipped forest biomass into an energy source for local power; this practice continues today.
The Francis Marion is home to a variety of wildlife, including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. It spans nearly 259,000 acres, and offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities ranging from hiking, biking, motorcycle and canoe trails to rifle ranges and a boat launch.
Sumter National Forest
Lands Acquired through the Weeks Act: The Sumter National Forest was established in South Carolina on July 13, 1936 by Presidential Proclamation, three days after the Francis Marion National Forest. Named after Revolutionary War General Thomas Sumter, today the forest includes the Andrew Pickens, Enoree and Long Cane ranger districts. The General Andrew Pickens Ranger District, as it was originally called, was first established in 1920 as part of the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. However, it became part of the Sumter in 1936. When it was established, the Sumter encompassed 247,965 acres.
Current acres: Today, the Sumter National Forest encompasses nearly 371,000 acres in the South Carolina piedmont and mountain areas.
Watersheds Protected by Weeks Act Purchases: Broad and Savannah river watersheds.
Special Forest Features: Forest management in the mountains emphasizes habitat restoration and enhancement for a diverse range of wildlife and plant species with emphasis on rare, threatened, endangered and sensitive species. The Andrew Pickens is home to the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River, one of two wild and scenic rivers in the southern region, as well as the Ellicott Rock Wilderness, the only designated wilderness on the Sumter National Forest. The Chattooga is considered one of the premier whitewater rafting destinations in the southeast, as well as one of the best rivers to fish for trout. Other popular activities include hunting, fishing, hiking, fall color sightseeing, camping and horseback riding. In the piedmont, forest management is focused on a growing recreation program, soil and water improvement, wildlife and fisheries program, timber management and prescribed burning. In the piedmont, forest visitors can enjoy a full range of active outdoor recreation activities including hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, canoeing, photography, scenic viewing, etc.
Angelina National Forest
The Angelina National Forest was established on October 15, 1936 under Weeks Act Authority and is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2011. At its beginning, the forest was 147,059 acres. Today, the Angelina covers 153,160 acres.
Watersheds Protected by Weeks Act Purchases: The Angelina River and Neches River watersheds.
Special forest feature: Located in the heart of the Pineywoods, the Angelina National Forest lies in the Neches River Basin and on the north and south shores of Sam Rayburn Reservoir, a 114,500-acre lake on the Angelina River formed by the construction of Sam Rayburn Dam in the early 1960s. The forest is in the upper Gulf Coastal general plain province where the terrain is gently rolling. Longleaf pine is predominant in the southern portion, while loblolly and shortleaf pine dominate in the rest of the forest.
Forest Niche: The Angelina provides water-based recreation and exceptional opportunities for fishing and a variety of active and passive waterside and water sports recreation on Sam Rayburn Reservoir and the Neches River. Hunting is a focus on the Angelina as are other popular activities such as hiking and biking. The Angelina offers rural camping experiences and offers a unique recreational experience in a historical camping context at Boykin Springs.
Davy Crockett National Forest
Like the Angelina, the Davy Crockett National Forest was established on under Weeks Act authority and is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Established on October 15, 1936, the Davy Crocket was originally 155,309 acres. Today, the Davy Crockett covers 160,633 acres.
Watershed Protected by Weeks Act purchases: Neches River watershed
Special forest feature: Named for the legendary pioneer, Davy Crockett National Forest is home to Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area. The 45-acre lake was once a log pond and source of water for the Central Coal and Coke Company Sawmill that logged the area from 1902 to 1920. The area offers visitors camping, picnicking, a swimming beach and bathhouse, concession stand, an amphitheater, an interpretive forest trail, showers, boating and fishing in a beautiful forest setting often featured in travel magazines.
Forest Niche: Horseback riding is the main niche on the Davy Crockett National Forest. The Davy Crockett offers rural camping experiences at Ratcliff Lake. Hunting is a focus on the Davy Crockett as are other popular activities such as hiking and biking.
Sabine National Forest
Date forest established: October 15, 1936
Initial acres: 178,742 acres
Current acres: 160,798 acres. By county: Jasper, 64 acres; Sabine, 95,454 acres, San Augustine, 4,287 acres; Shelby, 59,212 acres; Newton, 1,781 acres
Watershed protected by Weeks Act purchases: Sabine River watershed
Special forest feature: The eastern part of the Sabine National Forest outlines Toledo Bend Reservoir, the fifth largest man-made reservoir in the U.S. and a nationally known recreation attraction. Recreation developments adjacent to Toledo Bend Reservoir are extensive. Private facilities range from fish camps with marinas and primitive camping, to highly developed lodge and motel-type facilities. Outdoor recreation opportunities in the Sabine National Forest include fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking.
Forest Niche: The Sabine National Forest offers exceptional opportunities for fishing and a variety of active and passive waterside and water sports recreation on Toledo Bend Reservoir. The Sabine offers family oriented water-based recreation at Red Hill Lake. Hunting is a focus on the Sabine as are hiking and biking.
Sam Houston National Forest
Date forest established: October 15, 1936
Initial acres: 145,356 acres
Current acres: 163,030 acres. By county: Montgomery, 47,801 acres; San Jacinto, 60,632 acres; Walker, 54,597 acres
Watershed protected by Weeks Act purchases: Boswell Creek watershed
Special forest feature: The Sam Houston National Forest is located 50 miles north of Houston and offers access to the 82,600-acre Lake Livingston and 22,000-acre Lake Conroe. Both lakes are noted for year-round fishing as well as camping, hiking, swimming and boating opportunities. Riding off-road vehicles, mountain bikes and horses are some of the popular recreational uses of the Sam Houston National Forest.
Forest Niche: The National Forests comprise a highly scarce resource in Texas. The Sam Houston National Forest provides a diversity of land and water-based recreation opportunities near Houston. Houston is the fourth largest city in the U.S. and has the third largest Hispanic population of any city in the U.S. These forests will be increasingly valued as urban escapes. The Sam Houston National Forest offers exceptional opportunities for fishing and a variety of active and passive waterside and water sports at Lake Conroe and Lake Livingston. The urban center of Houston has large populations that seek wildlife viewing and natural and cultural history learning opportunities. The Sam Houston provides an opportunity for urban visitors to learn how the Forest Service manages resources for endangered species. Hunting is a focus on the Sam Houston National Forest as are hiking, biking and ORV riding
George Washington National Forest
Land Acquired through the Weeks Act: The Shenandoah National Forest was established out of 738,227 acres purchased through the Weeks Act on May 1, 1917. At this time, three purchase units of the Weeks Act were combined into one forest: Potomac Unit 478,717 acres; Massanutten Unit 152,946 acres; and the Natural Bridge Unit 106,564 acres. In 1932, the forest was renamed the George Washington National Forest.
Current Acreage: Currently the George Washington National Forest is compared of 1,061,080 acres, 956,222 acres in Virginia and 104,858 acres in West Virginia.
Significant Watersheds Protected by Weeks Act Purchases: The Potomac and Chesapeake Bay watersheds.
Special forest feature: These lands serve as a gateway for visitors to experience and enjoy the national forests’ natural beauty as well as to explore pieces of history that helped mold this nation. The Shenandoah Valley, now surrounded by the George Washington National Forest, holds much of this nation’s history. What other forest can claim with reasonable accuracy that Thomas Fairfax, George Washington, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee walked through its land?
Forest Niche: This rugged mountain landscape makes premier sightseeing and trails the focus of the forest. Seasonal flora, waterfalls, streams and lakes, wildlife and pristine scenery set the stage for recreation experiences.
Jefferson National Forest
Date forest established: On April 21, 1936, President Roosevelt proclaimed the establishment of the Jefferson National Forest from parts of the George Washington and Unaka Forests.
Current acres: 723,300 acres (Virginia: 703,300 Acres, West Virginia: 19,000 Acres, and Kentucky: 1,000 Acres).
Watershed protected by Weeks Act purchases: Portions of the New River and Tennessee River tributaries.
Special forest feature – The Jefferson National Forest is located in the Blue Ridge, Central Ridge and Valley, and Cumberland Plateau physiographic provinces, providing habitat for a wide variety of species including at least 70 amphibian and reptiles, 180 species of birds, 60 species of mammals, and 100 species of freshwater fishes and mussels. Thirty-five of the plants and animals species found on or near the Jefferson National Forest are listed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened or endangered.
Forest Niche: Today, the Jefferson National Forest provides a wide range of benefits. Over 2 million annual visitors enjoy recreating on more than 100 developed recreation sites, 1,100 miles of hiking trails, including 320 miles of the historic Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and more than 500 miles of streams that provide some of Virginia's finest trout fishing.