Longleaf Pine Conservation from USDA

This just in from USDA NRCS. Just another thought...There are no longleaf pine seedlings available from Southern nurseries this year, partly due to this government program. You might want to consider growing them.

For Immediate Release

Longleaf Pine Initiative Funding Available to Private Landowners

Gainesville, FL., November 10, 2010 -- Longleaf pine forests once covered millions of acres throughout the Southeastern United States. Today, only a few thousand acres of this vital habitat remains. To help sustain, enhance and restore longleaf pine forests, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White announced the availability of $400,000 to help private landowners in Florida restore and manage longleaf pine.
“The longleaf pine is one of our key native species; providing a home to hundreds of plant and animal species as well as being a tremendous economic resource,” White said. “Restoring and expanding this species is only made possible through voluntary partnerships with conservation-minded landowners who share our goal of healthy forests.”
Longleaf pine habitat can contain as many as 300 different species of groundcover plants per acre, and approximately 60 percent of the amphibian and reptile species found in the Southeast. Additionally, this forested habitat is home to at least 122 endangered or threatened plant and animal species including the fox squirrel, northern bobwhite, red-cockaded woodpecker and gopher tortoise.
“We’ve taken great steps toward conserving longleaf pine forests in Florida,” said Jeffrey Woods, acting state conservationist for Florida. “Through this initiative, and the great works of our landowners, we will be able to enhance and protect more of this essential habitat.”
The Longleaf Pine Initiative will incorporate, through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP), both technical and financial assistance to help landowners in Florida to improve habitat on agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest and Tribal land. Although WHIP has a continuous signup, landowners have until January 7, 2011 to apply for FY2011 funding for the Longleaf Pine Initiative.
Nine states are included in the Longleaf Pine Initiative: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
Approved participants will receive financial assistance for implementing conservation practices including planting longleaf pine, installing firebreaks, conducting prescribed burning and controlling invasive plants.
Additional information on NRCS and our programs is available on our Website at www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov or at your local USDA NRCS office. To find the nearest office go to http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app .

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