Tim and Harriette Allen have focused their golden years on a shared passion that has set them on a path to conservation. The Georgia couple’s love of nature and a desire to help the environment spurred them to become part of a national effort to conserve and restore longleaf pine forests throughout the Southeast.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Tim Allen said. “It’s a way to conserve for our future, for my children, and grandchildren on down the road.”
Tim and Harriette are diligently working to establish longleaf pine trees on dozens of acres on their Pulaski County farm. Working with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), they’re working through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to manage healthy forests. The Allens are doing their part to contribute toward NRCS’ effort to restore longleaf pine across the Southeast one tree at a time.
“If you’re not into farming, row crops and things, plant your idle land in trees,” Tim Allen said. “Trees give us clean oxygen and wildlife habitat.”
NRCS established the Longleaf Pine Initiative to support America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative. The ALRI is a unified effort of numerous partners from private and public sectors that actively supports the range-wide mission to increase longleaf acreage from 3.4 million to 8 million acres in 15 years. Today the ALRI is celebrating its five-year anniversary of its regional restoration efforts with a summit in Washington, D.C.
Since 2010, NRCS has invested more than $36 million to help 2,500 forest landowners, like the Allens, restore 195,000 acres in longleaf pine.
In the time since the Allens have planted their first trees, they’ve noticed encouraging signs on their farm. You will find thousands of seedlings on the couple’s land. Many have flourished and now stand between four and six feet tall at only a few years old. The Allens said planting longleaf is a simple way to be a good steward of natural resources.
“We love conserving our wildlife and our resources,” Allen said.
And, when it comes to wildlife, Longleaf pine restoration impacts some of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems by providing critical habitat for 29 threatened and endangered species. Those threatened and endangered species include the gopher tortoise, indigo snake, red-cockaded woodpecker and the bobwhite quail.
“In the last couple of years, we’ve seen bobwhite quail come back on our property,” Allen said. “We hadn’t seen any in 20 to 25 years. We just love to listen to them call their unique call. Bobwhite is what it sounds like.”
Encouraging signs of life like these will not only help keep the Allens focused on longleaf pine restoration efforts but will also continue to inspire NRCS and its conservation partners to reach more private landowners and help them improve sustainability and profitability of longleaf pine forest ecosystems across Georgia and in eight other states.