West-Central Louisiana Ecosystem Partnership (WLEP)
The Kisatchie National Forest Makes Strides Towards Million-Acre Challenge
By Chris Rice, The Nature Conservancy
The Kisatchie National Forest (KNF) forms the core of the Fort Polk/Kisatchie National Forest Significant Geographic Area in western Louisiana. In the fall of 2017, the U.S. Forest Service Southern Region issued the Million-Acre Challenge to put an additional one million acres of National Forest System lands on the path towards restoration in support of the America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative. KNF, one of the largest natural landscapes in Louisiana with approximately 604,000 acres of public land, has a long-term objective of 263,000 acres of longleaf. With approximately 120,885 acres of existing longleaf (46% of the Forest’s long-term acreage goal), the KNF was assigned a goal of 143,367 acres in longleaf restoration. KNF has developed a strategy to meet their portion of the Million-Acre Challenge through a variety of silviculture practices including timber sales, selective intermediate thinning, mid-story removal, and prescribed burning. The Kisatchie Restoration Strategy focuses on integrated opportunities to achieve multiple objectives, such as treating Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Louisiana pine snake habitat, fuel reduction, ecosystem resilience, and watershed improvements. With assistance from the West-Central Louisiana Ecosystem Partnership, the local LIT consisting of the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Defense, state and federal wildlife agencies, conservation NGOs, and landowners, the KNF is well-positioned to take on and meet its goal for the Million-Acre Challenge of restoring a significant portion of this beautiful Louisiana landscape into a fully functional longleaf pine ecosystem.
Longleaf habitat on the Kisatchie National Forest. Photo courtesy of Kisatchie National Forest.