Spring 2019 Longleaf Partnership Council Meeting

As they do twice a year, the Longleaf Partnership Council (LPC) members and other partners of America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative (ALRI) gathered to discuss the business needs of the LPC and promote broader understanding, coordination, and participation in ongoing activities in support of longleaf pine restoration.  This year, the meeting was held on April 1-2, 2019, in Columbus, Georgia, the home of Fort Benning, an area rich with longleaf pine and many longleaf-dependent species.

On the agenda at this Spring’s meeting, LPC members were brought up to speed about ongoing projects and informed about new initiatives taking place.  Updates were given on the new Longleaf Ecosystem Occurrence mapping project from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and CommunitiesForest Landowners Association's work on potential markets for longleaf restoration, the possible establishment of a focused groundcover working group, and the activities of partners National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Department of Defense, NRCS, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The goal of 8 million acres of longleaf across the range is in its home stretch, and this meeting featured facilitated dialogue about ways to keep momentum moving forward, including ways to fund efforts, how to reach untouched landowners and untapped groups, how to strengthen the longleaf market, and what to include in the next iteration of the Farm Bill.  With the 10-year anniversary of ALRI approaching next year, possible celebration ideas were discussed and the LPC asked for participation from partners for the event.

Impacts from Hurricane’s Florence and Michael continue to be a point of emphasis, especially for the states of Georgia and Florida, and discussion centered on how the timber industry is coping and what potential assistance exists for landowners in the area.  This meeting’s Local Implementation Team spotlight fell on the Chattahoochee Fall Line Conservation Partnership (CFLCP) and the conservation activities being done in the region to protect Fort Benning’s training mission and buffer the installation from incompatible development near its fence-line.

The LPC is also hard at work compiling the 2018 Accomplishment Report detailing the successes and trends from the last year for longleaf.  This year’s Accomplishment Report will feature a more user-friendly format that the LPC hopes will be an effective communication tool for highlighting the amazing work being done by ALRI’s partners!

Many of the attendees stayed for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation/Southern Company 16th Annual Stewardship Partners Meeting.  This year’s meeting focused on species recovery and a field tour to Fort Benning allowed participants to see the ongoing conservation efforts to restore longleaf pine and the surrounding habitat.

The next meeting of the Longleaf Partnership Council will be in the Fall of 2019.