Arkansas Forests, 1600-1988This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
A general history of Arkansas forests from 1600-1988 reveals many changes in the resource.From pre-European settlement to the late 1800 ’s, the abundant timber was used primarily for shelter and fuel for heating and cooking;occasionally, land was cleared for farming.The ‘Big Cut’ era occurred in Arkansas from 1890 to 1920. As the resource dwindled in the South, some eyes turned to the Pacific Northwest for a new source of timber,whereas others stayed in the South and applied forest management concepts to the remaining resource. From 1920 to 1950,‘peckerwood’ sawmills and the newly emerging pulp and paper industry made use of the smaller trees left behind after the ‘high grading’ that occurred during the ‘Big Cut’ era and the new growth emerging on cut-over lands. The creation of the Arkansas Forestry Commission in 1931 helped control the fires that yearly destroyed millions of acres of timberland in the State. Lumber production was suppressed during the Depression, but with the advent of World War II, production began to increase again. During the 1950 ’s, sawmills became fewer in number but larger in size, whereas pulp mills increased in number and size. Forest area decreased during the 1960 ’s and 1970 ’s but began increasing again in the 1980 ’s.