1,300 People Attended Party for the Pine
By Stephanie Wagner, Sandhills Area Land Trust
The North Carolina Sandhills Conservation Partnership and 1,300 people from the local area celebrated Earth Day (April 22nd) in a big way with the Party for the Pine in the meadow of the Weymouth Woods’ Sandhills-Nature Preserve’s Boyd Tract. The Party for the Pine is an annual celebration of the oldest-known longleaf pine tree, which we are fortunate to have in the North Carolina Sandhills on state-protected land. This year the old tree turned 469 years old! This is the second year that the Party was structured as a festival, and has grown into a 5-hour event filled with educational activities, interactive displays, and guided hikes designed to teach about the importance and management of the longleaf pine ecosystem. A large audience watched a demonstration controlled burn for the last hour of the event. The Sandhills Prescribed Burn Association provided the interpretation of the burn to the crowd to illustrate how prescribed fire is routinely used in the Sandhills to keep longleaf woodlands healthy and reduce wildfires.
The public outreach leading up to Party for the Pine was valuable in terms of getting the message about longleaf conservation and prescribed fire to the community. There was substantial publicity through print and social media, including newspaper articles, Facebook groups, an event website, and school flyers. Evaluations were administered as attendees exited the event; the majority of people indicated they had heard about the Party through Facebook and had an increased awareness of the significance of longleaf pine and prescribed fire in the North Carolina Sandhills. Please see www.PartyForThePine.org for a gallery of photos and an overview of the day.
Funding for this event was provided in part through the Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA).
Image 1: NC State Parks Fire Crew Member monitors Rx Demonstration Fire during Party for the Pine. Photo by Brady Beck.