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  • STATE FORESTS AND ARBORETUMS: W. GOODRICH JONES STATE FOREST

    W. Goodrich Jones State Forest 

     

    Forest
    W.G. Jones State Forest is one of the nation’s largest working urban forests. The primary purpose of this forest is resource education. Sound scientific forest management that protects and perpetuates native flora and fauna is practiced. Demonstration and research areas have been installed to test various forest management techniques, forest genetics, and forest product utilization studies. 

     

    Jones State Forest is surrounded  by Conroe, The Woodlands and unincorporated Montgomery county on all sides. Each year, approximately 80,000 people visit the forest. Users include schools, youth organizations, higher education institutions, landowners, community members and groups, science researchers, and various professional groups.


    The forest’s location and special ecological distinctiveness makes it one of the region’s unique resources for showcasing research and demonstration in urban forestry issues, environmental education, atmospheric studies, and a host of other opportunities with tomorrow’s leaders, improving communities’ health and outdoor nature connections, and connecting diverse community members to the benefits of natural resource conservation through continuing education.


     + Visiting the Forest

    The Conroe District Office provides maps and restrooms Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. on F.M. 1488, 1.5 miles west of Interstate 45. Call 936-273-2261 for information.

    • Open year-round during daylight hours only.
    • Three public parking lots are accessible on FM 1488: near main office, front lake area and horse trailer entrance area. 
    • No restroom facilities are available on the forest except at the main office building. 
    • Texas state forests are game sanctuaries with no firearms or hunting allowed and follow the Pack It In, Pack It Out philosophy.


    Find interactive maps or print your own


    Activity Areas and IdeasRiders

    • Geocaching opportunities
    • Native Plant and Grass Nursery demonstration growing area
    • Wildscape and Pollinator demonstration gardens
    • Sweetleaf Nature and Fitness Trail (gate combination required)
    • Red-cockaded woodpecker management areas
    • Two small lakes with limited fishing and picnicking
    • Forest best management practices demonstration sites throughout the forest
    • Nearly 15 miles of trails and pathways for horseback riding and outdoor exercise and enjoyment
    • Designated horse-rider and trailer area (gate combination required) 

     

     + School Field Trip Information

    A variety of groups visit the forest every year to study and experience urban forest ecology. Groups range from elementary to post-secondary, self-guided and scheduled-program participants, public/private/home schools, or boy and girl scouts.   


    If you are looking to bring students out to the forest please call our office at 936-273-2261. 


    A few programs we host or partner:

    • Exploring Houston's Backyard & Beyond includes Houston ISD students in 4th and 5th grade. Watch a video about this field trip opportunity.

    • Classroom Without Walls includes 4th and 5th grade students from Montgomery, Waller, Grimes, and Liberty counties.

    • Science & Technology Academy from Conroe ISD includes freshmen students researching a topic on the forest each year. Students ask a question, engineer a device to collect data, then analyze and interpret their findings.

    • Several university natural resource management classes conduct research, review challenges that may impact forests, and have students observe prescribed burning practices on the state forest.
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     + Lifelong Learners

    At the Jones State Forest, our staff and associated volunteer groups provide educational lecture series and volunteer involvement opportunities and training. Professional groups offer continuing education programs at the forest or in conjunction with our staff.


    The forest is host to the Heartwood Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists and the Friends of the Jones State Forest. They assist in public programs with schools and adult learning Walk & Talks, monthly Nature of Things Lecture Series, work in the habitat gardens, trap insect, or work with Eagle Scout and Girls Scout projects. 

    Aztec Cultural Dancers perform on the state forest several times each year for families to connect with nature. 


    The Texas Bluebird Society hosts an Eastern Bluebird nesting box trail through the forest. A series of bluebird nest boxes provide opportunities for these birds to thrive. Volunteers monitor the boxes during nesting season and contribute their findings to Cornell Lab of Ornithology's NestWatch project. 


    The Texas Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture  provides advanced training at the forest for tree care workers and arborists in the region several times a year.


    Texas A&M Forest Service district staff host area fire departments and local fire academy interns at the forest for interactive and intensive training to complement training received in the fire department or academy. 

    Texas Landowners Mini Workshops and Seminars provide learning opportunities for new and traditional landowners in connection with the Montgomery-Harris County Forest Landowners Association, Texas Forestry Association and other partners. Focus is put on helping new landowners and those having owned or inherited land to better see challenges and solutions first hand on managing smaller tracts of forests. 

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     + Forest Management

    The primary purpose of this forest is resource education. Sound scientific forest management that protects and perpetuates native flora and fauna is practiced. Demonstration and research areas have been installed to test various forest management techniques, forest genetics, and forest product utilization studies. 

    The forest is primarily a mix of native loblolly and shortleaf pine, approximately 60% and 40% respectively. However, native hardwood species such as white and red oaks are found intermixed among the pine forest offering habitat diversity. 

    Prescribed fire is a forestry management tool used to assist in the maintenance of critical red-cockaded woodpecker habitat. View photos of a 2016 prescribed burn on the forest. 

    Best Management Practices were initiated in 1990 to establish demonstration areas for the protection of water quality from non-point source pollution. Forestry practices such as mulching, thinning, harvesting, and prescribed burning are for the sustainable management of the red-cockaded woodpecker’s critical habitat. 


    View an Interactive Story Map of the practices in place on the forest. Learn more about Best Management Practices in our Manage Forests and Land section of the website. 

     + Red-cockaded Woodpecker

    RCW2sToday, the Jones State Forest plays host to a large population of the red-cockaded woodpecker, a federally listed endangered species. Jones State Forest is recognized by American Bird Conservancy as one of the 500 most important birding areas in North America since it is home for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, unique to such pockets of older-growth pine forest ecosystems. 

    In a collaborative effort, Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife are diligently working together to help the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker thrive. At 1,700 acres, William Goodrich Jones State Forest​ is one of the nation’s largest managed urban forests and is also home to this black and white bird. In the spring, biologists begin monitoring active nest cavities in hopes of locating RCW eggs. 


    Red-cockaded woodpeckers are different from other woodpeckers in that they creates cavities in live pine trees to roost and nest. Jones State Forest implements management practices to ensure this woodpecker’s sustainability within the habitat provided. From March 15 through July 15 of  the year, nesting areas are closed to limit disturbance. 


    Forest management activities focus on habitat protection for this important species of the southern yellow pine forest ecosystem. Present day research and demonstration activities include prescribed burning, reforestation, ecological restoration, habitat restoration, best management practice sites, hardwood management, silvicultural thinning studies and food plots for wildlife. 

    Watch a video to learn more about this fascinating endangered species.


    For additional information about the red-cockaded woodpecker, visit the past research section of Dr. James Hanula, a research entomologist with the USDA Forest Service.

     + History of the Forest and W. G. Jones

    The W.G. Jones State Forest is a working forest owned and administered by the Texas A&M Forest Service. The forest was purchased in 1926 to establish a research/demonstration area in the heart of one of the richest timber producing areas of the state to educate landowners, loggers, and forestry students about what is now termed sustained yield forestry—the ability of a forested ecosystem to balance the utilization of natural resources, habitat enrichment for native flora and fauna, with quality human experience.

    WGJAt a ceremony on May 19, 1949, the forest was formally dedicated and renamed the William Goodrich Jones State Forest, in honor of the Father of Forestry in Texas, Mr. W. Goodrich Jones.

    In the year 1888, W. Goodrich Jones began his life-long crusade to bring conservation to the Lone Star State when he moved to Temple, Texas. Jones recalled “Not a tree was to be seen” and he decided to do something about it.

    He first planted pecans in a tin can on his hotel room’s window sill. Later, one of the seedlings was planted in front of his home on Adams and Second Street. “That pecan was the town’s first tree planting,” claimed Jones. He then encouraged Temple’s citizens to plant trees to create shade along Temple’s barren, dusty streets. By his action, he conceivably initiated the first urban forestry project in a Texas town. 

    This small step evolved into a state Arbor Day in 1889, held on George Washington’s birthday (until 2013 when Texas Arbor Day moved to the first Friday in November). Eventually, Jones’ pioneering and tireless efforts would bring forestry to Texas, creating both the Texas Forestry Association and the Department of Forestry (now Texas A&M Forest Service).

    Read more about history of the Jones Forest on our Interactive Story Map.

     

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