COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M Forest Service presented a check for $22,389 to the Association of Former Students today. The funds are from timber sustainably managed and sold on the John Henry Kirby Memorial State Forest.
The state forest, originally known as State Forest #4, was gifted to Texas A&M Forest Service in 1929 by lumber baron John Henry Kirby. As part of the property deed, Kirby stipulated that a portion of the forest’s revenue be donated to the Association of Former Students of Texas A&M University, specifically to be used for student loans.
“Texas A&M Forest Service proudly manages the John Henry Kirby Memorial State Forest and is honored to create revenue for the Association of Former Students,” said Al Davis, Texas A&M Forest Service Forest Director.
Nic Taunton, Executive Vice President and COO of The Association, expressed appreciation to Texas A&M Forest Service and noted Mr. Kirby’s generosity and foresight in setting up a gift that still provides meaningful contributions almost a century later.
“As an independent nonprofit alumni association, our work is made possible only by the generosity of our donors,” said Taunton. “Since 1929, Mr. Kirby’s gift and the stewardship of Texas A&M Forest Service have produced more than half a million dollars in revenue to The Association – funds that have enabled us to make a tangible impact on Texas A&M and countless Texas Aggies.”
At the time the agency acquired the forest, it was heavily logged and impacted by wildfires, insect epidemics and feral hogs. The agency immediately began reforestation activities and planting slash pine for the restoration project due to the superior growth characteristics of the species.
Today, the forest is divided into 13 management stands that are maintained individually.
“The forest is used to demonstrate forest management focused on sustainability and restoration of the longleaf pine ecosystem,” said Conor McInnerney, Texas A&M Forest Service District Forester. “We have a working management plan for the forest that helps us to meet sustainability goals.”
The funds presented today are from 1,799 tons of timber sold through a thinning project on stands two and four of the forest – around 120 acres of mature longleaf, slash and loblolly pine.
“As forests grow and mature, timber can become crowded, creating heavy competition for water, soil nutrients and sunlight,” said McInnerney. “Thinning reduces the number of stems per acre along with competition and allows for more vigorous growth.”
As trees become larger, they require more nutrients, sunlight and water so the process of thinning continues throughout the life of the stand of trees. In most forests, thinning begins around age 15 and continues to be conducted in intervals of seven to 10 years.
Both stands thinned were marked by foresters with paint to indicate which trees should be removed. The marked timber was then sold through a bid process and harvested. From there, the timber went to sawmills in the area and was manufactured into dimensional lumber.
Learn more about the John Henry Kirby Memorial State Forest at https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/john-