Advancing Longleaf Pine Conservation in East Texas
By Wendy Jo Ledbetter, The Nature Conservancy
The Texas Longleaf Implementation Team (TLIT) and the Texas A&M Forest Service have been awarded a grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation to accelerate longleaf restoration in the Big Thicket Significant Geographic Area of southeast Texas for use in 2015-2017. This funding will allow the TLIT to assist private land owners to restore 950 acres to new longleaf stands and enhance 4,900 acres of existing longleaf through woody plant control, prescribed burning, and forest stand improvement.
Outreach and technical assistance efforts will strive to educate 100 private landowners on longleaf ecology and related resources through county landowner association meetings, SFI sponsored landowner workshops, small focused field workshops, training sessions, and fact sheets. Targeted technical assistance will seek to engage willing private landowners in stewardship practices, and possibly forest certification programs, that are beneficial to longleaf pine ecosystem restoration, enhancement, and sustainability.
Organizational capacity will be enhanced through extending the time of the TLIT coordinator through June 2017 to interface with team members and potential partners, strengthen public/private relations, and coordinate efforts with existing longleaf conservation initiatives.
Lastly, the Landowner Suitability Geodatabase will be updated to support and target future restoration efforts within the Big Thicket SGA. Willing landowners with suitable tracts (size, soil, and location), interest, and commitment to perform silvicultural and wildlife management practices to promote longleaf pine ecosystems will be identified and targeted.
Image 1: Wendy Jo Ledbetter and Shawn Benedict (TNC Texas staff) looking at mechanical treatment area on Campbell Global conservation easement tract, Hardin County, Silsbee, Texas. Photo by Alexandra Lodge.