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LEARN & EXPLORE
  • STATE FORESTS AND ARBORETUMS: I.D. FAIRCHILD STATE FOREST

    I.D. Fairchild State Forest –2,740 Acres

    Originally a part of the State Prison System, the land that was called State Forest #3 was transferred in 1926 to the Forestry Department of Texas A&M University (now called Texas A&M Forest Service). The property consists of approximately 2,360 acres in various scattered parcels in the western portion of Cherokee County. The largest main tract is located just a few miles west of Maydelle, Texas, and is bisected by State Highway 84.

    The only sawmill ever operated by the State of Texas was located on the site. In the early 1900s citizens of Rusk and Palestine made a strong plea to encourage the State Legislature to extend the State Railroad to Palestine on the basis the line was needed to help timber interests. As a result, the Mewshaw mill was constructed on the site in 1907. It was staffed with convict labor and had a daily production of 35,000 board feet of lumber. Mewshaw burned in 1912 and was never rebuilt.

    At the time of acquisition from the State Prison System, the forest was already well-stocked and large scale plantings were not necessary. However, in 1939, some restoration followed a large wildfire that swept through the Mt. Hope tract just east of Maydelle, killing an estimated 150 acres of young pine trees.

    From 1933 until 1936, a large Civilian Conservation Corps camp was located on the main tract. Enrollees constructed roads, fire breaks, small ponds and bridges on the forest; today, some of these improvements may still be found. Many of the poles used for fire control telephone lines connecting lookout towers throughout East Texas were harvested by the CCC from State Forest #3.

    For a number of years, TFS utilized former CCC facilities to host annual personnel meetings at the forest. The buildings were also used for outdoor education camps by local conservation groups, 4-H and public schools. Most of the structures were dismantled in the mid 1950’s.

    To recognize his support of forestry in Texas, on September 11, 1956 State Forest #3 was dedicated the I.D. Fairchild State Forest, after the late Senator from Lufkin. A large plaque can be found on state forest property, adjacent to, and south of the intersection of State Highway 84 and FM 747.

    Like other Texas state forests, the Fairchild is a working, demonstration forest and has served as a site for numerous silvicultural and research studies: harvest cutting, farm forestry, timber stand improvement, reforestation, tree growth, prescribed burning and seed production. The forest also hosts a small population of the federally-listed endangered species, red-cockaded woodpecker. Today, forest management activities focus on habitat protection for this important species of the southern yellow pine ecosystem.


    Educational Opportunities

    Forest resource education and nature study tours are available by appointment.
    No hunting is allowed on I.D. Fairchild State Forest except for a weekend youth hunt conducted in cooperation with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

     

    Recreational Opportunities

    Hiking (Click here to download the GPX file for the hiking trail.)
    Horseback riding
    Picnicking
    Bird watching
    Wildlife viewing
    Biking

     

    Special Attractions

    Red-cockaded woodpecker management area
    Pond with picnic area
    Various forest management demonstration areas and sites


    Open

    The forest is open year-round during daylight hours. Texas state forests are game sanctuaries with no firearms or hunting allowed.

    No restroom facilities are available on this state forest.

     

    Information

    Jacksonville District Office
    1015 SE Loop 456
    Jacksonville, TX 75766
    Monday – Friday 8 am – 5 pm
    903-586-7545

     

    Map

    Trail map


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