ANGELINA NATIONAL FOREST
Welcome to the Angelina National Forest, one of four National Forests in Texas. Located in the heart of east Texas, the 153,179-acre Angelina National Forest is located in Angelina, Nacogdoches, San Augustine and Jasper counties. The 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 1960's.
The Angelina National Forest lies in the upper Gulf Coastal general plain province and the terrain is gently rolling. Longleaf pine is the predominant cover type in the southern portion, while loblolly and shortleaf pine are the dominant types in the rest of the forest.
Summers in the Angelina National Forest are hot and humid and winters generally are short and mild. Average mid-summer temperatures in the forest range from the mid-80's to the mid-90's, with an average mid-winter temperature a mild 52 degrees. Rarely do temperatures in the forest drop to less than 10 degrees or rise above 110 degrees. The average annual rainfall is 46 inches.
Wildlife management focuses on keeping animal populations in balance with available food and shelter. Hundreds of wildlife species exist in the Angelina National Forest. Principal game in the forest is deer, squirrel, wild turkey, woodcock, quail, dove and duck, and sportsmen can enjoy hunting and fishing in accordance with state game laws.
The fish and wildlife habitat created by Sam Rayburn Reservoir offers 114, 500 acres of water for fish and waterfowl populations to exist and multiply and feed and resting grounds for migratory birds before they proceed south toward the Gulf Coast. A resident population of wood ducks remains in the forest year-round.
The 20,700-acre Bannister Wildlife Management Area is located north of Lake Sam Rayburn. The objectives for the area are (1) to provide an area of multiple resource management with increased emphasis on wildlife management; (2) to develop and maintain population levels of various game species to provide an improved hunting opportunity; and (3) to demonstrate wildlife/timber management coordination techniques, applicable to the pineywoods of East Texas. In the wildlife management area, improvements include game stocking, water impoundments and forage planting.
Sam Rayburn Reservoir and the surrounding Angelina National Forest provide wintering habitat for the threatened bald eagle. During the winter months, forest visitors may see the bald eagle soaring over the lake, perched on a flooded snag or in a tall pine along the shoreline.
The red-cockaded woodpecker, an endangered species, is found throughout the forest. A small black and white woodpecker, it makes its home by pecking cavities in large, living pine trees. Around the entrance to its cavity nest, the red-cockaded woodpecker chips pitch wells resulting in pitch flow giving the cavity tree a candle stick appearance below the nest opening and serves to protect the bird from predatory snakes.
The red-cockaded woodpecker was designated an endangered species in 1973. This unique little bird and its habitat are protected in the Angelina National Forest and all federal lands. Wherever these birds are found, management emphasis is directed toward providing the special habitat they require.
Man came to the area now known as the Angelina National Forest around 8,000 years ago. Archeological sites have been located as part of the U.S. Forest Service's cultural resource inventory in addition to those resources located and excavated prior to the construction of Lake Sam Rayburn Reservoir. These sites document the evidence of man's presence over the entire period since then.
One of Angelina County's original settlers, John H. Graham, lies buried in a small cemetery overlooking the creek which bears his name in the southwestern part of the forest. His name and birthdate may still be seen on his grave marker.
Of more recent setting is the old Aldridge Sawmill site near the terminus of a spur of the Sawmill Hiking Trail near the Neches River south of the Boykin Springs Recreation Area. Hand-poured concrete structures remain, rapidly deteriorating under the onslaught of vandalism and the advancing forest cover, and these stand as mute testimony to the aspirations and dreams of turn-of-the-century timber barons.
In 1934, the Texas Legislature approved a resolution to urge federal purchase of land to create National Forests in Texas. In 1935, acquisition began on the Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Angelina and Sabine National Forests.
Early management efforts centered on timber inventory, planting trees and fire protection. Much of the land had begun to seed-in naturally, due mostly to the Texas Forest Service's fire protection efforts which had begun years earlier. The two agencies, the Texas Forest Service and the U.S. Forest Service, began a harmonious working relationship with the inception of the National Forests in Texas.