Apalachicola Regional Stewardship Alliance (ARSA) Update

Apalachicola Regional Stewardship Alliance (ARSA) Update

By Brian Pelc, The Nature Conservancy

Partners working in the Apalachicola River region planted over 1.2 million longleaf pine seedlings in the past several months.  Chief among those efforts this year was Northwest Florida Water Management District’s massive undertaking at two sites, which accounted for over 771,000 seedlings.  In an effort to assist this ARSA signatory member, the ARSA LIT funded 86,000 of those seedlings in our Apalachicola Longleaf Initiative Phase 3, as well as 229,000 seedlings planted at Wakulla State Forest, Box-R WMA, Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve, L Kirk Edwards WMA, and Wallwood Boy Scout Reservation.  Our SGA anchor, the Apalachicola National Forest (ANF), also got in on the planting action by adding 368 acres of new longleaf totaling 215,000 trees.

ARSA partners, including ANF, remain committed to restoring both canopy and understory species on as many acres as possible.  This past fall was a banner year for native seed collection with partners collecting over 4 tons of seed mix from sandhill and flatwoods sites across the region.  This year, over 400 acres of conservation lands received both longleaf pine overstory and a mix of herbaceous seed that will provide excellent fine fuels for future burns and high quality habitat for the multitude of critters that call the understory home.  A special thanks to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Southern Company, The Longleaf Alliance, and American Forests who supported the purchase and planting of a total of 315,000 longleaf seedlings, 6,000 lbs. of seed mix collection, and over 200 acres of sandhill understory restoration.

Kudos to ARSA partners for helping The Nature Conservancy cross a single-day prescribed fire acreage milestone: Conservancy staff along with partners from Florida Forest Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service completed a 12,000 acre burn on Flint Rock WMA and St. Marks NWR.

Image 1:  Piles of pine tops and logging slash still smolder as crews plant 35,000 longleaf pine seedlings at Box-R WMA in Franklin County, Florida.  This work was jointly funded through grants from American Forests and Longleaf Alliance (seedlings), NFWF and Southern Company (planting labor), and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (site prep as in-kind match).  Photo by Jerry Pitts.