The preservation of America’s forests did not become a vital concern much before the end of the nineteenth century. The five laws that Congress passed prior to 1873 dealing specifically with the woodlands resulted primarily from a determination to insure an adequate supply of timber for the navy. The live oak, indigenous to the southern coastal area of the United States, was the principal object of the first three laws, the Naval-Timber Purchase Act of 1799 and the two Naval-Timber Reserve acts of 1817 and 1827. Highly prized by shipbuilders for its extremely hard and durable wood, the live oak also prompted President John Quincy Adams to order established in West Florida a tree plantation, which became America's first serious experiment in forest management and woodlands conservation. Unfortunately for the future of America's forests, Adams' plan expired in the snarled web of Jacksonian politics. During its brief life, however, the West Florida project strengthened awareness within the Congress and the administration to the threat against the forests by continuing depredations, and it left a residue of preventive law in the Timber Trespass Act of 1827. The episode revealed that not all Americans in that era shared a presumption that the nation's forests were inexhaustible, and it produced for a heedless posterity a genuine champion of conservation in the person of John Quincy Adams.
Adams, William R.
"Florida Live Oak Farm of John Quincy Adams,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 51:
2, Article 4.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol51/iss2/4