The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Trust for Public Land and landowner M.C. Davis are partnering to conserve 20,850 acres of critical habitat land east of Eglin Air Force Base after being awarded $1.75 million from the U.S. Department of Defense as part of the 2013 REPI Challenge.
Planting densities for longleaf have been the subject of many conversations among foresters, wildlife biologists and landowners for several years. To address the situation, the Longleaf Partnership Council (LPC) developed a White Paper on Longleaf Pine Planting Density (2013) and Fact Sheet, providing landowners a discussion of the potential benefits and drawbacks of a range of planting densities.
The biannual meeting of the Longleaf Partnership Council was conducted in Mobile on April 25-26. The Council meeting focused on range-wide topics (e.g., how the RESTORE Act prompted by the Gulf oil spill might offer longleaf opportunities) as well as technical team reports (e.g., recommendations on longleaf seedling stocking density) and, last but certainly not least, updates from partners around the region.
Somewhere down the road, when the history of longleaf restoration is written, the year 2012 will almost certainly be seen as a significant milestone. Last year, after decades of steady decline in longleaf, the USFS Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) first determined that the decline had been halted and, indeed, that acres of longleaf dominated forests had actually increased in the previous 10 years.
Not only is longleaf being successfully restored on the Osceola National Forest, the restoration efforts are generating significant positive returns for the broader economy according to a recent study. The Florida project has received considerable attention from conservationists for its ambitious goals of doubling prescribed fire acreage on the Forest, reducing fuel loads and restoring groundcover. Now impressive economic benefits have also been documented at the local, state and national scales.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with and input from the States of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and South Carolina, and the Wildlife Diversity Committee of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, recently released a Range-Wide Conservation Strategy for the Gopher Tortoise. The purpose is to guide public and private partners in proactive conservation of the tortoise, which is a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act across most of its range.
Highly regarded for his decades of involvement with a range of wildlife and land management issues, Mr. Abernethy assumed the Presidency of the Alliance on December 1, 2012 after most recently serving in a senior position with the National Wildlife Turkey Federation.