GCPEP Receives NFWF Longleaf Stewardship Fund Grant

GCPEP Receives NFWF Longleaf Stewardship Fund Grant

By Vernon Compton, The Longleaf Alliance

The Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership (GCPEP) partners were very pleased to be selected to receive a 2016 National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Longleaf Stewardship Fund Grant.  The Longleaf Stewardship Fund public-private partnership includes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and private funding from Southern Company, International Paper’s Forestland Stewards Initiative, and Altria Group.  It has played an important role in growing longleaf restoration efforts across the historic range of the longleaf ecosystem, and has been instrumental in continuing successes with restoration occurring in the GCPEP landscape.

The 2016 Longleaf Stewardship Fund grant will allow GCPEP partners to collaborate and also work with private landowners to restore the longleaf ecosystem in the GCPEP landscape through longleaf plantings, prescribed fire, rare species recovery, and landowner outreach and technical assistance. 37,365 acres of longleaf pine will be impacted by the project through 374 acres of plantings, 371 acres of mechanical treatments, 20 acres of invasive species control, and 36,600 acres of prescribed fire on public and private lands. Rare species recovery efforts will center on the red-cockaded woodpecker, reticulated salamander, gopher tortoise, and the eastern indigo snake. Private landowner assistance will emphasize increasing support and coverage provided by The Longleaf Alliance Technical Service Providers, building upon the success of Alabama's Longleaf Ecosystem Restoration Team (ALERT) to establish a similar effort in northwest Florida, and leading a Longleaf Academy and Longleaf Field Day in the landscape.

The GCPEP partners thank the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Longleaf Stewardship Fund public and private partners for their vision and support of longleaf restoration in the GCPEP landscape and across the entire longleaf range.

Image 1: Prescribed Fire in the Blackwater River State Forest. Photo by Vernon Compton.