Ocala Longleaf Pine Local Implementation Team (OLIT) Update
By Cheryl Millett, The Nature Conservancy
The Northeast Ecosystem Restoration Team run by Wildland Restoration International hit the ground running even before the ink dried on our new agreement, conducting 776 total acres of longleaf management, including six controlled burns on six properties with five partners (772.5 acres) and one project thinning hardwoods on 3.5 acres. This is the beginning of a productive new partnership to get longleaf work done in the Ocala region.
In addition, we conducted herbicide treatment of encroaching oaks on 100 acres to restore longleaf sandhill at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, with pre- and post-treatment surveys conducted to assess the effects on herbaceous groundcover to inform future land management.
Conservation planning really hit its stride with partners drafting key and desired outcomes and plans to have a completed plan by the end of the year to guide our future work including mapping priorities.
The Ocala LIT is grateful to report the National Fish and Wildlife Longleaf Stewardship Fund awarded $250,000 to extend our longleaf restoration and maintenance work into 2018! This will support controlled burning by the Northeast Ecosystem Restoration Team, restore endangered red-cockaded woodpecker habitat, support longleaf planting on public lands, and restore and maintain longleaf on private lands.
Image 1: First Wildland Restoration International controlled burn for Ocala Local Implementation Team, a 210-acre restoration burn on private property on the Alachua-Levy county line!