MONTGOMERY, AL - The Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) has learned it will get an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant worth $1.757 million as its share of a Regional Longleaf Pine Restoration Initiative.
The AFC will focus on such projects as restoring longleaf on public lands at Geneva and Chocolocco State Forests, and the Barbour County Wildlife Management Area.
The agency also has the opportunity to significantly increase areas where native longleaf pinecones can be commercially collected. Additional benefits include enhancing esthetics, access, wildlife habitat, threatened and endangered (T&E) habitat and public recreation on these State Forest lands.
Other funded projects will include assistance to Alabama landowners interested in longleaf restoration through a collaborative partnership with the Wildlife and Fisheries Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR)'s Landowner Incentive Program (LIP), as well as support of educational and demonstration opportunities targeted for landowners and consultants.
According to State Forester Linda Casey, "Use of these stimulus funds is resulting in coordinating efforts across broad partnerships, such as with the Longleaf Alliance and the Department of Conservation's Wildlife and Fisheries Division. Because of the diverse values of the longleaf pine forest, its restoration has become an important point of focus for the forest conservation community. Longleaf pine forests once covered a vast range from Texas to Virginia. Since that time, this forest has been reduced to three percent of historical acreage due to conversion to other land uses and forest types." Casey went on to say, "Longleaf pine forests are highly valued for their resistance to damage by insects, diseases, wildfire, and storms, and for their yield of high quality wood products, biological diversity, and beauty. In addition, research suggests that longleaf pine forests may be highly adaptive to anticipated effects of climate change, as well as being capable of sequestering higher amounts of carbon than alternative forest types."
Development of work priorities for the grant also included consideration of job creation and retention. Under this program, state forestry agencies in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina are putting Americans to work restoring these valuable forests. This work is helping to restore a great American ecosystem while creating jobs for contractors and laborers involved in tree planting and forest improvement work, nursery workers, conservation planners and coordinators, media specialists, and educators.