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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 visited Louisiana on November 10, 2010, to announce the availability of over $13.9 million to help private landowners in nine states 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 Louisiana,” said Kevin Norton, NRCS State Conservationist in Louisiana. “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 both technical and financial assistance providing $864,750 to help landowners in Louisiana improve habitat on agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest, and Tribal land.
Nine states are included in the Longleaf Pine Initiative are: 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.