Trinity Co. land owner says truck traffic ban will hurt tree farm business

TRINITY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A Trinity County tree farm owner said a newly voted on decision to ban truck traffic near her property will diminish the future of wood revenue in the county. For the past 100 years, Jane Baxter's family has managed timber on their tree farm. This year her family won the tree farmer of the year award in the state. But that may all be a thing of the past if log trucks continue to have a problem traveling to and from the family tree farm.

These aging trees still produce stunning fall colored leaves decades after they were found by Jane Baxter's grandfather who had a passion for surveying land and looking for timber in Trinity County.

"At that time all of East Texas was long leaf pine tall towering beautiful trees and the sawmills were built around 1900 and before to market that wood," Baxter said. "Trinity became the site of a sawmill in 1906 or thereabout and he became a part of that effort."

More than a century later, the Gibson family tree farm has been awarded by the Texas Forestry Association as the best tree farmer of the year in the state.

"We are proud to be good stewards of this property," Baxter said. "We have come here all our lives and we really love it. We were fostered by that love by our parents with our own lives here."

Baxter's siblings, their children and grandchildren are all partners and manage the land.

"We're privileged to do this. We have property that's not similar to many, so we have a lot of diversity; we have a lot of different interest here," Baxter said. "There's wildlife; we have to take care of our trees and we have to take care of our water resources."

The Gibson family tree farm is located on Trinlady Park Road in Trinity. It runs from highway 94 in town and a little more than 10 miles down the road it joins highway 19. This road is the only way log trucks can access the thousands of acres of timber in the area.

"The commissioners decided they didn't want any traffic going back south,' Baxter said. "They decided they wanted traffic going back north. The alternative which they have recommended is go north on Trinlady Park Road and end up on 19 about 14 miles or so outside of Trinity."

Baxter measured the sand road to be about 17 feet wide and said the average log truck is about nine feet wide, which would make it dangerous for anyone else to cross the road at the same time.

"There's other resources and solutions that can be found so that East Texans aren't prohibited from managing their woo," Baxter said. "It's not right for a whole number of acres that are potentially part of this production resource that Texas needs, the agriculture needs, that Trinity County needs in order to bring revenue in. There's got to be a better answer."

The land owner said changing the travel route for log trucks from the area has caused difficulty for everyone to harvest because now the path to production plants has changed.

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