West-Central Louisiana Ecosystem Partnership (WLEP)
Louisiana Longleaf Implementation Team Renews Declaration of Partnership
By Dan Weber, The Nature Conservancy
December 2017 marked the five-year anniversary of the founding of the West Central Louisiana Ecosystem Partnership (WLEP) created in response to the America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative goal of 8 million acres of longleaf pine by 2025. The WLEP, a coalition of stakeholders including the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Defense, Natural Resource Conservation Service, state and federal wildlife agencies, conservation NGO’s, and others oversees longleaf and other ecosystem restoration efforts within the Fort Polk/Kisatchie National Forest Significant Geographic Area (SGA).
At the recent 2017 annual partnership meeting, the steering committee voted to renew the original Declaration of Partnership for an additional five years citing the important contributions the group has made to the 2025 goal and the greater leverage and cooperation that partner agencies have achieved because of their participation. WLEP efforts have brought more than 2 million dollars of restoration funding to the SGA, funds that were matched by the partnership. Hundreds of resident landowners, conservation professionals, and members of the timber industry have received education and guidance from the partnership through the presentation of Longleaf Academies, field days, and burn workshops. Perhaps more importantly, this past year the WLEP oversaw the planting of approximately 2,000 acres of longleaf together with over 90,000 acres of combined burning and other stewardship activities to existing stands within the SGA.
Image 1: Kisatchie National Forest sandstone glade. Photo by The Nature Conservancy.
Image 2: WLEP work area within the Fort Polk/Kisatchie National Forest SGA. Photo by The Nature Conservancy.