Longleaf Pine forest (photo by William D. Boyer, U.S. Forest Service)
As a kid, I spent Christmas vacations with my family and my grandfather in the longleaf pine forests of South Carolina. While my grandfather and father (and later me) were quail hunters, you don’t have to be a sportsman or a sportswoman to appreciate longleaf pine. Longleaf forests are home to countless wildlife species, a diversity of plants, and provide valuable wood products, such as heart-pine floors that are cherished across the South. Longleaf forests once covered some 90 million acres along the Southeast coastal plain, but over the past two centuries, development, conversion, ill-planned timbering, and fire suppression have reduced longleaf’s range to a mere sliver of its former extent.
USDA and our many conservation partners are working to restore longleaf forests, and we’ve seen significant progress in the recent years. Now, a new Farm Bill program, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, or RCPP, is providing additional support to the effort. Read more »
Simon Winston and his family recently won the national Leopold Conservation Award for their conservation work.
In deep East Texas, pine trees are king. Towering pines line the roads and blanket the rolling countryside and national forests. Loblolly and slash pine dominate the landscape in contrast to the area’s historic longleaf pine trees that once reigned.
The reduced number of longleaf pines has not gone unnoticed by landowners and conservationists. In response to the striking loss of longleaf pine trees from Texas to Florida, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) launched the national Longleaf Pine Initiative, which provides technical and financial assistance for conservation practices that help restore longleaf pine forests and enhance existing pine stands. Read more »
The Allens proudly stand next to one of their tall Longleaf pine seedlings on their Hawkinsville, Georgia farm. Courtesy: Michelle Stone
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. Read more »
A private landowner in Hancock County, Miss. is restoring a longleaf pine forest on his land.
I have a few decorative items on my desk at work, and some of those are longleaf pine cones. Even though I only learned of the rare longleaf pine forest – and the large pine cones that fall in them each year – a few years ago, it was love at first sight.
Longleaf pine forests once covered the coastal landscape of the Southeast, and they’re home to nearly 600 plant and animal species.
But over the past two centuries, development, timbering and fire suppression reduced the longleaf’s range by almost 97 percent. And many groups, including USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), are working to save and restore this landscape. According to the America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative, longleaf forests have increased from about 3 million acres to about 4.4 million acres in recent years, reversing a century-long decline across the region. Read more »
USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie listens to Mary Hill, a retired school superintendent and Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation Sustainable Forestry Program participant. Hill owns more than 80 acres of land and timber in Berkeley County adjacent to the Francis Marion National Forest. Forest Service photo.
The longleaf pine ecosystem is one of the most diverse in the world. It provides habitat to nearly 900 plant species and 29 federally-listed threatened or endangered species. It’s prized for its valuable timber and its strength against disease, pests and damaging storms.
But longleaf pine forests are now rare since their original range of 90 million acres has waned to just a few million. USDA and other partners are working to change this.
USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie recently traveled to South Carolina to meet with USDA employees and conservation partners. Bonnie toured private and public lands where the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Forest Service have recently protected and restored thousands of acres of longleaf forests. Read more »
Pony Ranch Pond, a new home for the dusky gopher frog, is monitored by the National Forests in Mississippi and several cooperators. (Western Carolina University photo/ John A. Tupy)
To most people, the sound heard near Pony Ranch Pond could easily be mistaken as snoring. To local conservation professionals, however, it was more like a song, signifying hope and celebrating a small victory for the nearly extinct dusky gopher frog.
In February, National Forests in Mississippi staff, researchers and volunteers discovered and documented six dusky gopher frogs at the De Soto National Forest pond. One frog, a 5-year-old female, had travelled nearly a mile from nearby Glen’s Pond – until then the only known site where the endangered amphibians live and breed. Read more »