Groundcover Restoration Efforts Intensify in Fort Stewart/Altamaha LIT

Groundcover Restoration Efforts Intensify in Fort Stewart/Altamaha LIT

By Randy Tate, The Longleaf Alliance

Aided by a new Longleaf Stewardship Fund grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Fort Stewart/Altamaha Local Implementation Team (LIT) is working to intensify our efforts at restoring native groundcover in longleaf ecosystems.  Projects at the Moody Forest Natural Area (Appling County, Georgia) and the Orianne Indigo Snake Preserve (Telfair County, Georgia) seek to improve our groundcover restoration efforts and, in time, provide donor sites for groundcover seed for use elsewhere in the Significant Geographic Area (SGA).  Restoration of groundcover will also be put in place at Townsend Wildlife Management Area (McIntosh County, Georgia).

Anyone who has ever burned longleaf woods that are flush with native groundcover knows just how much easier and effective a fire can be when there are grassy fuels to carry the fire. And, of course, good fire management is the key to restoring and maintaining longleaf ecosystems. The amazing diversity of longleaf ecosystems stems from the native groundcover that is found in well managed stands. Healthy native groundcover is also excellent habitat for many wildlife species including bobwhite quail, turkey, and rare species like Bachman’s sparrow.  And, esthetically, a stand of native grasses such as wiregrass, toothache grass, and big and little bluestem in the fall is a beautiful sight. Several LIT partners have formed a Groundcover Working Group to help coordinate the various projects on the ground.  Fall seed collection and spring seed drilling will hopefully increase the acres of good native groundcover across the SGA, improving longleaf habitat and benefitting native wildlife for years to come.

Image 1: Brannon Knight of the Orianne Society and Carol Denhof of The Longleaf Alliance discuss the recent seeding of this future donor site for ground cover restoration. The 20-acre site is at the Orianne Indigo Snake Preserve.  Photo by Randy Tate.