Ocala Longleaf Local Implementation Team (OLIT)
Planting Seedlings and the Seeds for the Next Steps: Ocala Longleaf Pine Local Implementation Team (OLIT)
By Cheryl Millett, The Nature Conservancy, and Ivor Kincaide, Alachua Conservation Trust
Wildland Restoration International conducted longleaf restoration and maintenance work on 89.5 acres on three public and eight private properties, including hardwood thinning, prepping burn units, treating non-native invasive species, and planting longleaf seedlings.
Two additional planting projects took advantage of winter rain. The Florida Park Service planted 49,000 longleaf seedlings on a site prepared with a burn, setting the stage for what we hope will be a successful restoration of a sandhill with scattered mature longleaf, turkey oak, and sand post oak that has excellent native groundcover. Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) also planted 70,000 seedlings on another sandhill restoration site in Hawthorne, Florida.
ACT has also been busy digging into Ocala LIT work by hiring a Prescribed Burn Association Coordinator to work with private landowners to increase burning on private lands. We partnered with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Prescribed Fire Training Council to help 19 enthusiastic attendees at the newly formed North Florida Prescribed Burn Association weekend workshop held last December in Gainesville. These private landowners plan to work together, burning each other’s lands. ACT has other irons in the funding fires with partners to accelerate work around Ocala National Forest, Camp Blanding, and on private lands, so keep an eye out for more!
Image 1: The crew gets ready to plant 49,000 longleaf seedlings at Ichetucknee Springs State Park on a cool January day. Photo by Florida Forest Service.