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Longleaf Pine Focus of Biennial Conference

story by Beverly Moseley

The Nation’s longleaf pine ecosystems range from Texas to Florida. It’s at the western edge of the pine’s habitat, East Texas, that the 9th Biennial Regional Longleaf Alliance conference was held recently in Nacogdoches.

The meeting’s theme was “Longleaf as far as the eye can see.” Through the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) national Longleaf Pine Initiative and partnerships such as the Texas-Louisiana Longleaf Task Force, efforts are underway to make that theme a reality.

“Even though Texas is on the extreme western edge of the longleaf range, the holding of the Longleaf Alliance meeting here was a good chance for us to show some of our efforts to attendees from different states while also learning a lot from them about their state efforts,” said Al Schmidt, NRCS district conservationist.

“This was a good opportunity for everyone.”

The five-day conference attracted a large number of attendees which included private landowners, agency and forestry employees, researchers, conservation groups, along with consultants. Attendees had an opportunity to learn information through workshops and sessions ranging from an overview of longleaf pine and ecosystems to restoration of the pine to its native range.

“The meeting was well attended by folks from throughout the southeast,” Schmidt added. “Anytime you have this mix, it provides a chance to build partnerships in efforts such as the Longleaf Pine Initiative through EQIP.”

Field tours were also part of the regional conference. Concurrent tours were held at a private landowner’s property - Simon Winston. Educational stations, which included NRCS personnel and partners, were set up throughout Winston’s longleaf pine forest. Alazan Wildlife Management Area and Boykin Springs were also tour stops.

“The field days were a great opportunity for viewing longleaf restoration efforts in progress and provided a forum for discussion on different techniques and practices used in these efforts from different regions in the longleaf range,” said Schmidt.

Only 3 percent of the original 90 million acres of longleaf pine ecosystems in the United States remain, according to experts. These ecosystems are home to 29 species that are federally listed as threatened, endangered or both. For more information visit www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov.

The 9th Biennial Regional Longleaf Alliance conference was held recently in Nacogdoches. The 9th Biennial Regional Longleaf Alliance conference was held recently in Nacogdoches.

The 9th Biennial Regional Longleaf Alliance conference was held recently in Nacogdoches.

Beauty Berry grows in the understory throughout Simon Winston longleaf pine forest. Simon Winston is standing by an estimated 8-year-old longleaf pine.

Beauty Berry grows in the understory throughout Simon Winston longleaf pine forest. The berry is a desired food of wildlife.

Field tours were part of the regional conference. One tour stop was at a private landowner’s property owned by Simon Winston who has an estimated 150 acres involved in longleaf pine restoration through EQIP’s national Longleaf Pine Initiative. Winston is standing by an estimated 8-year-old longleaf pine.

Simon Winston has approximately 150 acres enrolled in the national Longleaf Pine Initiative.

Simon Winston has approximately 150 acres enrolled in the national Longleaf Pine Initiative through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) administered through NRCS.