Sewee Longleaf Conservation Cooperative: Making Largescale Impacts through National Forest Plan Revisions
Colette DeGarady, Sewee Longleaf Conservation Cooperative Coordinator
Back in the Fall of 2012 when the Sewee Longleaf Conservation Cooperative (SLCC) was formed, the US Forest Service (USFS) was also beginning their management plan revision process for the Francis Marion National Forest (FMNF). This created a wonderful opportunity for members of the SLCC to become involved. The FMNF encompasses 260,000 acres of our 800,000-acre geographic area with approximately 400,000 acres in their proclamation boundary. We call the forest “the anchor” of our Local Implementation Team. These national forest management plans will impact the stewardship of this forest for a period of approximately 15 years. In the new FMNF plan (scheduled to roll-out Fall 2016) longleaf forest restoration is intended to increase from its previous goal of 53,000 acres to 91,000 acres. Tied to that is an increased burn program. Since January 2016 the USFS have accomplished 10,000 acres of first entry burns to forest stands that have not seen fire in a significant period of time. Along with these changes, USFS has increased their commitment to working with private landowners primarily with cross-boundary controlled burns. The USFS has welcomed partner input throughout this process. The SLCC was happy to play a role in creating such a robust and beneficial plan.
Image 1: USFS field trip with the Federal Advisory Committee demonstrating partner collaboration in the forest plan process, led by Mary Morrison. Photo taken by Colette DeGarady.