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#Fridaysonthefarm: Restoring a Majestic Love

#Fridaysonthefarm: Restoring a Majestic Love Web Header

Story by Amelia Dortch, NRCS Alabama; photos and video by NRCS 

Each Friday, meet farmers, producers and landowners through our #Fridaysonthefarm stories. Visit local farms, ranches, forests and resource areas where NRCS and partners help people help the land.  CLICK HERE to view all #Fridaysonthefarmstories.

The longleaf pine forest claims the heart of Alabama producer Joseph McKinney. In this #Fridaysonthefarm, meet McKinney who works diligently to make his land the perfect host for the majestic pine.

#Fridaysonthefarm: Restoring a Majestic Love Map


Majestic Memories

Even as a small child growing up in rural Alabama, Joseph McKinney had an affinity for trees.

“I love trees, all kinds of trees. I love the forest,” McKinney says as he walks under a beautiful canopy on his property in central Alabama. Even though his love doesn’t discriminate against any species, he has a particular fondness for one, the longleaf pine.

“When I was a child growing up, I remember a mature longleaf forest that was just majestic. I just loved it.”

'I love all kinds of trees'

Now, several years later, he’s come back to his family’s homestead and re-established the native tree on his grandparents’ land in Coosa County, Alabama.

Joining forces with his local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office, Coosa County Forestry Planning Committee and Alabama Forestry Commission, Mr. McKinney has worked diligently to make his land the perfect host for the majestic pine.

#Fridaysonthefarm: Restoring a Majestic Love Photo 1


Through the NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), he was able to plant 15 acres of seedlings on his land in 2005. From there, he began his duty as a steward and nudged them to grow into their regal potential.

But, he says it has been a practice in patience over the last 12 years. When he first planted the small seedlings, McKinney worried that they wouldn’t make it. “I was frustrated because I couldn’t see the longleaf pine for all the grass. A couple of years and a (prescribed) burn later, they started to grow and have continued to grow ever since.”

Definitely a sight to see, the beautiful trees now boast an understory that is the perfect early successional habitat for wildlife such as turkey and deer. 

“It has tremendous wildlife value,” says NRCS District Conservationist Alex Johnson, pictured below.

Longleaf pine forests represent some of the world’s most unique biologically diverse ecosystems. Longleaf pine forests covered more than 90 million acres, spanning from eastern Texas to Virginia. But their range has been reduced by 96 percent, and NRCS is working with conservation partners through America’s Longleaf Pine Restoration Initiative (ALRI) to restore this important landscape. 

#Fridaysonthefarm: Restoring a Majestic Love Photo 2


Joel Glover, with the Forestry Planning Committee, has worked with Mr. McKinney from the beginning and says not only is he a great advocate for trees, he’s a great ambassador in the community.

“He tells people that something’s going to be growing there. Why don’t you manage it and get something out of it instead of just letting it go.”

McKinney says he’s simply making sure he can leave his land in better condition than he found it and to leave a legacy for his children.

“We didn’t inherit this land. We borrowed it from our children. It’s about the future and not about the past.”

Conserve. Protect. Plant.

By conserving, protecting and planting one tree at a time, Joseph's doing his part to ensure that we have a future full of trees.

Show your support of trees and join Joseph McKinney and others who are celebrating Arbor Day on April 28, 2017!

Learn more about longleaf pine restoration in the following video.

Follow the #Fridaysonthefarm and other voluntary conservation stories on @USDA_NRCS Twitter and @USDA Facebook

View the interactive ESRI storymap of this #Fridaysonthefarm feature.