Longleaf Highlighted on the National Stage
More than 200 longleaf supporters gathered in Washington, DC on July 22 for a series of memorable events to celebrate five years of restoration progress by the America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative (ALRI). Enthusiastic participation by senior federal and state agency officials, non-profit and industry leaders, landowners and others made clear that longleaf restoration is now a key element of the national conservation agenda and support for sustaining restoration progress in Years 6-10 is stronger than ever!
Among the celebration’s offerings was a panel session moderated by USDA Secretary Vilsack followed by a lively reception and awards ceremony co-hosted by NRCS Chief Jason Weller and USFS Chief Tom Tidwell with sponsorship from the Longleaf Partnership Council and 20 other conservation groups, wood products companies and others. See the list of sponsors here on page 8 of the event program.
Held in the historic atrium of the Whitten Building on the National Mall, the reception featured the premier of a new video Longleaf as well as remarks from author Larry Early whose 2004 book Looking for Longleaf: The Fall and Rise of an American Forest sounded an early alarm over the fate of the longleaf forest. Awards to the Longleaf Partnership Council (accepted by current and former Chairs Mike Black and Vernon Compton), landowner and Council member Salem Saloom and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation rounded out the program.
Adding to the day’s excitement, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation concurrently announced $3.38 million in grants through the Longleaf Stewardship Fund to further restore the longleaf pine ecosystem. The fifteen projects to be supported in eight states will ultimately restore more than 11,800 acres and enhance over 116,000 additional acres of longleaf pine habitat, while leveraging over $3.8 million in additional funds from grant partners.
For a short video of the celebration, check out USDA’s Week in Review and stay in touch with ALRI’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/americaslongleaf for ongoing updates and photographs from the Washington, D.C. events. A regional celebration is also in the works to be held in Mobile, Alabama on October 21-24 in conjunction with the 10th Annual Longleaf Conference & 9th Eastern Native Grass Symposium. Online registration is now live at www.longleafnativegrassconference.net.
Photo: USFS Chief Tom Tidwell, NRCS Chief Jason Weller, LPC Chair Mike Black and Past LPC Chair Vernon Compton (Lark Hayes, 2014)