Apalachicola Regional Stewardship Alliance Update: Seizing Opportunities

February 12, 2015 Image 1 Img 7709 Thumb (1)

By Brian Pelc, The Nature Conservancy

Over half of the quality longleaf habitat in the Apalachicola River region is on private lands and in order to reach our local and regional goals for acres restored, Apalachicola Regional Stewardship Alliance (ARSA) has taken a proactive approach:  private landowner workshops.  Thanks to funding from National Fish & Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Longleaf Stewardship Fund (LSF), ARSA members have been able to reach out to over 100 partners that own or work on private forested lands.  Our most recent effort focused on landowners and technical assistance providers in the Florida counties of Liberty, Gadsden and Calhoun, where 50 participants attended the October 8th ARSA workshop.  Slides and discussion were followed by a complimentary lunch and an afternoon field trip on The Nature Conservancy’s Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve as well as a private tree farm across the street.  Two more workshops are planned for 2015.

The Deepwater Horizon was a tragedy affecting the coastal communities in ARSA, and west along the Gulf Coast. The criminal and civil penalties offer a unique opportunity for alliances like ARSA to turn that tragedy into unprecedented opportunity for land conservation and management.  While not exclusive to longleaf pine, the focus of The Apalachicola Project ($15 million over 5 years) is to increase the quality and quantity of freshwater resources in the Apalachicola region through hydrological restoration, conservation land management, and private landowner outreach and assistance.  Since the ARSA region is predominantly longleaf habitat, our targets for acres restored, managed, and newly planted will benefit the ALRI goals tremendously.

In the upcoming planting season, ARSA is pleased to support 100 acres of longleaf improvements at Tyndall Air Force Base, 200 acres of clear cut restoration at Torreya State Park, 300 acres of pine planting at Box–R WMA, and 137 acres of sandhill restoration at Econfina WMA.

Image 1:  Participants in the October 8th ARSA Private Lands Longleaf Pine Workshop are treated to a guided tour of longleaf forests ranging from pure habitat-focus to timber production.  Topics included: Why Longleaf?, Prescribed Fire and Longleaf Pine, Groundcover restoration, Wildlife and Longleaf as well as Incentives and Easements impact on Longleaf economics.  Photo by Cheryl Millett.

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