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NE Texas Conservation Group Recognized Nationally for Shortleaf Pine Restoration

Melissa Blair, NRCS Public Affairs Specialist

The Open Pine/Shortleaf Working Group, which is part of the Northeast Texas Conservation Delivery Network (NETX CDN), was presented an award for their conservation partnership work in October at the 5th Biennial Shortleaf Pine Conference held in Van Buren, Missouri.

During the awards banquet, the NETX CDN’s Open Pine/Shortleaf Working Group was awarded the Shortleaf Pine Conservation Award. The concept of the working group began by a group of NETX CDN partners with a vision for restoration of the open pine ecosystem. This team’s partnership efforts focused on prioritizing shortleaf pine. This group has been influential within the NETX CDN ever since the early discussions, promoting restoration of shortleaf pine through outreach, education and training; galvanizing effective development for conservation delivery personnel using solid strategies, field days for sharing successful techniques and developmental seminars.

“Your colleagues, partners and leadership recognize the important work you are doing,” said Jason Estrella, Wildlife – Regions 3 and 4, Texas Parks and Wildlife and chair of NETX CDN. “It is being talked about in a positive light, not just in east Texas, but across the southeast.”

The group has worked with NRCS in promoting and educating landowners about the USDA-NRCS Shortleaf Pine Initiative. Over the last two years collaborative efforts with NRCS has resulted in 1,325 acres being restored with shortleaf pine and more than $647,111 going back into the local economy through this conservation program.

Between 2015 to 2019, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) partner projects through the NETX CDN restored 623 acres of shortleaf pine and provided $74,250 USFWS funding (the landowner share was $46,250). The shortleaf effort in Texas is truly a partnership with many cooperators.

“The NETX CDN is a great example of a multi-agency partnership working together to assist in getting good conservation results on the ground with private landowners and land managers,” said Mike Oliver, NRCS state forester and lead of the group that was recognized. “In 2018, NRCS received letters of support from several NETX CDN partners which resulted in funding for the Shortleaf Pine Initiative in Texas.  NRCS is proud of this award in the name of the NETX CDN, and we are happy to be a part of a successful conservation partnership effort.”

The partnership group is comprised of staff from USDA- NRCS, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture, Texas Forest Service, National Wild Turkey Federation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, Caddo Lake Institute, Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture, Quail Forever/Pheasants Forever, U.S. Forest Service, Texas Natives, and the American Bird Conservancy.

NE TX Conservation Group Recognized for Their Shortleaf Pine Restoration Efforts, By Melissa Blair, USDA-NRCS public affairs specialist, (2019, Nov)