National Wild Turkey Federation Leads Effort Restore Longleaf Pineon US Army Lands in Louisiana
By Dan Weber, The Nature Conservancy
The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and the United States Army Environmental and Natural Resources Management Division (ENRMD) at Fort Polk have teamed up during the last two years to restore portions of Peason Ridge Wildlife Management Area to longleaf pine. Peason Ridge is a 74,304-acre Wildlife Management Area owned by the United States Army located north of Leesville, Louisiana in Sabine, Natchitoches and Vernon Parishes. The work will occur within the Fort Polk/Kisatchie National Forest Significant Geographic Area and be accomplished in partnership with the local longleaf implementation team, the West Central Louisiana Ecosystem Partnership (WLEP). Longleaf seedlings were purchased by NWTF through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) grants that were awarded in 2014 and 2016 to NWTF, streamlining the ability of ENRMD to restore lands.
During the 2015-2016 planting season, ENRMD utilized in-house personnel, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and planting contractors to restore 350 acres of longleaf pine in small 8 to 10-acre tracts. In 2016-2017, 300 acres were planted in larger tracts, continuing the mission of longleaf pine ecosystem recovery. Longleaf restoration supports sensitive and endangered species that are found on army lands, such as the red-cockaded woodpecker and Louisiana pine snake. The newly restored longleaf tracts will be managed in the future with regularly prescribed fires to reduce forest fuel build-up, protecting soldiers in the training field and minimizing training down time due to fire suppression activities. The burning also provides mission support while maintaining an ecosystem suitable for game, non-game, and endangered species by promoting the natural longleaf pine forest.
ENRMD MISSION: To protect and preserve the human and natural environment by encouraging and enabling Fort Polk's organizations and personnel to proactively comply with environmental laws, regulations, and policies; conserve natural and cultural resources, and integrate environmental stewardship and sustainability principles into all activities and operations.
NWTF Mission Statement: The NWTF is dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage.
Image 1: Restoration planning with ENRMD, NWTF, and US Fish and Wildlife on Peason Ridge WMA. Photo courtesy of WLEP.