E.O. Siecke State Park
By Jonnie Miller
Eric O. Siecke was born in 1882 in Nebraska where he lived and was educated. He received his degree in forestry from the University of Nebraska. Early in his career he served as Deputy State Forester in Oregon. In 1918 he assumed his duties as State Forester of Texas where he remained until his retirement in 1942. As State Forester he succeeded in putting together an organization which advanced the causes of forest conservation and education Texas and in so doing established the first state forest in the state.
During the time he headed the Texas Forest Service extensive programs in fire control and education were developed in the state. Under his guidance seed nurseries were established to help fulfill the increasing demands for seedlings as timber companies increased reforestation efforts.
The first state forest was purchased in 1924 under Siecke's leadership. State Forest Number One in Newton County, later renamed E.O. Siecke State Forest, was among the first state forest in the state.
The Texs Forest Service Agency was chartered by the Texas legislature in 1915 to manage the interests of Texas forests and is a part of the Texas A&M University System. Siecke died in 1974 and was inducted into the Texas Forestry Hall of Fame in September 2002 for his vast contribution and dedicated service over an extended period that resulted in major progress in forestry and forest conservation in Texas.
The State Forest that bears his name is 12 miles south of the city of Newton off Hwy 87 in Newton County. It is a 1722 acre site where birds, butterflies, wildflowers and wildlife can be seen. It has a historic fire tower and the oldest Slash Pine stand in the state. Trout Creek runs through it and the area is accessible by horseback or hiking only. Research on best practices of growing pines and insect and disease control is conducted there.