Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Longleaf Pine Preservation Sought; Federal Money Available to Landowners for Disappearing Trees

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Longleaf Pine Preservation Sought; Federal Money Available to Landowners for Disappearing Trees

Article excerpt

Byline: TERESA STEPZINSKI

BRUNSWICK - Private landowners in Southeast Georgia are eligible for a share of $5 million in federal funds allocated to the state for preservation and restoration of longleaf pine forests, which once spanned thousands of acres in the region.

The funding is available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service as part of its nationwide Longleaf Pine Initiative.

Georgia is among nine states included in the program, which will provide technical and financial assistance to landowners who improve longleaf pine forests on agricultural land, non-industrial private forest and tribal land.

Longleaf pine forests once spanned millions of acres throughout the Southeastern United States, but now only a few thousand acres scattered in isolated pockets remain, said Dave White, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

"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."

Private landowners in 116 counties statewide, many in Southeast Georgia, are eligible to apply for money under the program because they are within the historic range of the longleaf pine.

Those counties include Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Camden, Charlton, Coffee, Glynn, Jeff Davis, Lowndes, McIntosh, Pierce, Ware and Wayne counties.

Landowners seeking a share of the program's money must apply to the Natural Resources Conservation Service by Jan. 7, White said.

"In Southeast Georgia, longleaf pine was the primary pine species at the turn of the century," said Frank Sorrells, district manager for the Georgia Forestry Commission regional office in Waycross.

Sorrells oversees a 17-county district once abundant with the hardy pine tree species prized by lumber companies. …

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