U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Lyndon B. Johnson National Grassland


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Grassland Information

The Lyndon B. Johnson National Grassland (of the Caddo-Lyndon B. Johnson National Grasslands) is located in central Texas about 43 miles north of Ft. Worth and covers 17,784 acres. There are three developed campgrounds, two of which meet the selection criteria.

Lyndon B. Johnson National Grassland (LBJ), of the Caddo-Lyndon B. Johnson National Grasslands, is the most southernly of the national grasslands and has a rich history. The land we now call LBJ was the home of great herds of bison, antelope, deer, and elk and a favored hunting ground of the Native people. The Caddo Indians, the largest Indian culture in Northeast Texas, were the first cultivators of this land. They were forced out around the mid-1700s by the more aggressive Apache and Comanche people. The European settlers, primarily stockmen, moved into the area in the 1800s with the farmers following in the early 1900s. The land has seen great cattle drives, with an estimated ten million head of cattle driven northward, and the advent of barbed wire. Cattle, barbed wire, and farming brought major changes to the land.

The areas now designated as "grasslands" were settled in the 1800s under a variety of "Homestead Acts" that opened the land to people, generally farmers, and helped to settle the west. A prolonged period of drought in the late 1920s into the 1930s caused some homesteads on sub-marginal farmland (a location receiving 15 or less inches of annual moisture) to literally dry up and blow away. During this time, Congress established the Land Utilization Program (LUP) which bought homesteads from bankrupt private owners and returned it to public land status. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) helped to stabilize the eroding soil by re-seeding it and applying other conservation techniques. In the 1950s, the LUP holdings were assigned to the USDA Forest Service which was tasked with management of these sub-marginal lands. Over the years the Forest Service has established some twenty National Grasslands. "The designation of the area as National Grassland is not a description of the area as much as a statement of policy and effort to restore the area to a multiple of uses and benefits."

Early explorers expected to find wind-swept prairies but instead found a barrier of timber with dense, heavy undergrowth. This belt of timber ran north to south across rather than along the major waterways. Known as the "Cross Timbers," it was a major landmark of the western prairies. Once called Cross Timbers National Grassland because of this unique landmark, the LBJ was renamed in 1974 after the former President. Since that time, the Forest Service has encouraged the return of the "Cross Timber" environment while following its mandate "aimed at promoting better utilization of the land, provide work in the depressed area, and to develop water oriented recreation facilities."

Oil and gas exploration and development is an ongoing effort. Wildfire control, prescribed burning, and wildlife management is used for the healthy recovery of the land. It should be mentioned the area where the LBJ is located is a transition zone. This is where the eastern forest becomes tallgrass prairie. The diversity of the land means 1,100 different plant species are found within the LBJ boundaries. And hundreds of animals and birds, dependent on the LBJ diversity and health, make it their homes.

The LBJ is a bird watchers holiday. The winter is probably the best time for spotting the greatest variety of our winged friend but LBJ is on the flight path for Fall migration. For a comprehensive list, ask for a "Bird Checklist for Wise County, Texas" at the ranger district office.

Recreation, in its many forms, is a big part of today's LBJ. The TADRA Point campground is the trailhead to a 75-mile network which includes five different loop trails that attracts equestrian enthusiasts from as far away as Amarillo and Ft. Worth-Dallas metro areas. These trails cover land where once the Chisholm trail was used to move huge herds of cattle northward and the Comanche people roamed. Black Creek Lake, with its adjacent campground and huge oaks, is popular for fishing, as well as tent camping and boating.

One unique feature of the LBJ can be found at Valley View. Here, the Forest Service and various bird-dog clubs have developed a "designated bird dog training area." Here, bird-dogs receive real-world experience under controlled conditions in trials and training sessions held throughout the year.

Lyndon B. Johnson National Grassland does more than provide grazing land for cattle and habitat for wildlife. This grassland, within an easy drive of Dallas-Ft. Worth and Amarillo metro areas, offers its visitor a chance to escape the hectic pace of modern life. Whether exploring the grassland on foot or atop a horse or mule, landing a prize Largemouth bass, watching a bird-dog make a perfect point, or just relaxing by a campfire, the LBJ offers visitors a chance to re-contact with nature. Come and see for yourself.

SUPERVISOR OFFICE 415 S. First Street Suite 110 Lufkin, Texas 75901 936-639-8501 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESS Caddo-LBJ 1400 US Hwy. 81/287 POB 507 Decatur, Texas 76234 940-627-5475

Fred and Suzi Dow