Austin, May 23 – Under the guidance of State Representative Steve Toth, Republican of Conroe, and the authorship of State Senator Brandon Creighton, Republican of Conroe, the Texas House of Representatives passed the W.F. Goodrich Jones State Forest Protection Act yesterday in a 118 to 26 vote.
Senator Creighton and Representative Toth had filed the legislation to protect the W.G. Jones State Forest from future development. The Jones Forest Preservation Act provides for the entire 1,722 acre tract to “remain natural, scenic, undeveloped, and open in a manner that maintains the tree canopy cover of the forest.”
“Last session, I was proud to author a bill that would have protected the Jones State Forest 100% from ever being developed or changed from its current use. After learning in public hearings that A&M University could fully develop the forest with no legislative change whatsoever, the bill was passed out of the senate with the toughest anti-development restrictions of any state forest in Texas,” Creighton said.
“The session ended just before the legislation was passed out of the Texas House [in 2017]. This session, I have asked Rep. Steve Toth to help me with the same effort.”
Representative Toth believes preserving Jones Forest keeps the covenant elected officials and residents share. “The residents of Windsor Hills already have a difficult time with current traffic levels. Folks move to The Woodlands for the woods and the natural beauty of forestry,” Toth said, “Jones Forest is surrounded by I-45, FM 1488 and Hwy 242. TxDOT will readily admit that 242 and 1488 are completely maxed out. To allow development of this 1700 acre tract is irresponsible.”
Rob Miller, president of the Windsor Hills Homeowners Association, fully supports the legislators’ efforts to protect the forest. “Jones State Forest is part of our Texas heritage. During the 2017 legislative session, Windsor Hills residents came out in force against attempts to construct buildings in the forest and to use the forest for anything other than its intended use,” Miller said.
The Texas Legislature appropriated funds for state forest land in 1923 — under the condition that the land be used to model working forests — making it the second forest acquired by the state. The forest is named after activist W. Goodrich Jones, “the father of forestry,” who was responsible, in part, for the creation of what is now the Texas A&M Forest Service.
The House adopted a minor amendment, which a conference committee of the House and Senate is likely to adopt, so that the Senate will likely adopt the House version of the legislation, as amended. The original statute follows in its entirety: