Texas Longleaf Implementation Team Updates
By Kent Evans, Texas Longleaf Implementation Team
Big Thicket Significant Geographic Area
In early January National Park Service (NPS) staff at Big Thicket National Preserve hosted the first of several 'Centennial Forest' tree planting events, the keystone activity for the NPS’s 2016 Centennial celebration at the preserve. The “Centennial Forest” is a year-long longleaf pine tree planting effort attempting to plant 100,000 longleaf pine seedlings with volunteer help by the end of the year and create a 300-acre Centennial Forest adjacent to an existing 100+ year-old longleaf and loblolly pine forest in the Big Sandy Creek Unit. The 2016 goal is to plant 80,000 longleaf seedlings by March, then to plant the remaining 20,000 seedlings during events in November-December. This restoration area is just north of Dallardsville, Texas. To create the next generation of park supporters and stewards, the NPS has invited volunteers of all ages along with their children and grandchildren and students from local schools and colleges. Approximately 700 students came to the Big Sandy Creek Unit and assisted with this reforestation effort in February & March. Each student helped plant 20-25 trees and then enjoyed a tour of the older growth tree area. Volunteers from a host of organizations and from as far away as Dallas and Houston have participated in the planting events. Volunteers interested in the November and December events are welcomed and invited to contact the Big Thicket Visitor Center at 409-951-6700 and sign up for a wonderful day in the Big Thicket!
Longleaf Ridge Significant Geographic Area
The Texas LIT hosted The Longleaf Alliance Longleaf 101 Academy in January at Sam Raburn Resort in Newton County Texas. The participants were a mix of landowners, consulting foresters, and agency and NGO professionals doing longleaf work in our area. Field trips included a close look at many of the challenges facing owners as they work to restore longleaf back to its historical range in east Texas. Ad Platt, Ryan Bollinger, and Robert Abernethy of The Longleaf Alliance were leaders assisted by Ike McWhorter (US Forest Service), Donna Work (Texas A&M Forest Service) and Kurt Krueger (Larson & McGowin). Many topics were adapted to Texas issues by taking local field trips in Newton County to visit such sites as the longleaf restoration areas on Campbell Global lands. The Rufus Duncan family graciously accommodated the group with a tour of the Scrappin’ Valley area, which had been under the wise stewardship of the Temple family for over 60 years. The group was able to see and discuss herbaceous understory diversity including a pitcher plant bog and observe red-cockaded woodpecker clusters. The tour included a high-value timber sale for utility poles bought by the Jasper Electric Cooperative forester, Charles Stovall. The group viewed a new 300-acre stand of longleaf under the direction of Scotty Ward, forester for Crest Natural Resources. Scotty explained his steps in site prep, planting, thinning, and harvest objectives for poles on their land in Scrappin’ Valley. Representative James White, Texas Legislative District 19, spoke to the group on the initial day of the workshop expressing his enthusiasm for their efforts and offering his support when needed.
Image 1: Planting crew at Big Thicket National Preserve on the January 18th MLK Day of Service. Photo by Ken Hyde, NPS.