Richmond, VA, February 28, 2014 - Though Longleaf pines can live for several centuries, the slow-growing trees are struggling to make a comeback in their native southeastern U.S. range. However, time is on the side of Virginia landowners who would like to work with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help restore this majestic species and the plant and animal habitats they sustain.
NRCS still has funding available through the Longleaf Pine Initiative to enhance and restore Longleaf pine forests in the Commonwealth. Interested agricultural and non-industrial forest landowners in 23 Virginia cities and counties should contact their local NRCS office before March 21 to be considered for 2014 funds (see map of targeted counties).
Approved Virginia participants will receive financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices such as planting Longleaf pine, installing firebreaks, conducting prescribed burning and controlling invasive plants.
“Properly managed Longleaf forests can help improve water quality and wildlife habitat for a complex ecosystem containing as many as 300 different species of groundcover plants per acre,” says Jack Bricker, State Conservationist. “By partnering with conservation-minded landowners, we can restore and expand a portion of what was once one million acres of Longleaf pine in Virginia.”
Established in 2010, LLPI uses a targeted approach to help forest landowners in these nine states improve the sustainability and profitability of longleaf pine forests on private lands: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Longleaf pines are more resistant to insects, diseases, wildfires and storm damage than other pine species, and can yield good economic returns through high end timber production.
Though program signup is continuous, funding selections are made at specific times during the year. Additional information on the Longleaf Pine Initiative, NRCS and our programs is available on our website at www.va.nrcs.usda.gov/ or at your local USDA NRCS office.