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News Release

NRCS continues commitment to longleaf pine restoration

Contact:
Stuart Ashby Lee
919.873.2107


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NRCS continues commitment to longleaf pine restoration

Raleigh, NC July24, 2014–As America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative celebrates five years of progress and promise, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Servicepledges its continued commitment to the longleaf restoration effort. NRCS began its work to restore, protect and enhance the longleaf pine ecosystem in 2010 to support ALRI through its Longleaf Pine Initiative.

The longleaf pine ecosystem once encompassed more than 90 million acres, spanning from Virginia to Texas. The overall goal of the ALRI is to increase longleaf acreage from 3.4 million to 8 million acres in 15 years on public and private lands.

In the last four years, NRCS has worked with private landowners to create and enhance longleaf forests. Since 2010, an investment of $36 million in conservation programs has helped about 2,500 landowners restore 195,000 acres in the nine states, including North Carolina.

Just in the past year, NRCS has invested $11 million in restoring 50,000 acres, including $1,094,181 million in restoring 5,323 acres in North Carolina.

“North Carolina’s longleaf pine has environmental, historical and cultural significance in the state,” said NRCs State Conservationist Tim Beard. “The efforts that landowners and partners are taking to enhance longleaf forest in this state are commendable.”

While forest landowners have been instrumental in making longleaf restoration goals a reality, private and public entities have made this endeavor even more of a team effort. NRCS has worked with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation by providing funds to support the Longleaf Stewardship Fund, which awarded 15 grants totaling about $3.38 million for projects in the longleaf pine range that will restore 11,800 acres and improve more than 116,000 acres of longleaf pine habitat.

Recently, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack selected the longleaf pine range as one of eight critical conservation areas eligible to receive funding under Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which was created by the 2014 Farm Bill. Through this new program, local public-private partners and longleaf supporters can compete for additional conservation funds for restoration efforts.

To get started with NRCS, visit your local USDA Service Center or www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.