USDA Offers Assistance to Producers Interested in Restoring and Enhancing Longleaf Pine Forests

USDA Offers Assistance to Producers Interested in Restoring and Enhancing Longleaf Pine Forests

Do you own or manage land and want to restore and enhance longleaf pine forests? If so, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can help.

Longleaf pine forests are among the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the nation, providing critical habitat for a variety of wildlife. They also provide ample opportunities to generate income as lumber from longleaf is stronger and its pine straw is highly valuable.

NRCS offers technical and financial assistance that helps producers with planting and managing longleaf pine trees. Assistance comes from two key Farm Bill conservation programs – the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

Through EQIP, NRCS shares the cost with the producer to implement conservation improvements, or practices, such as planting longleaf pine trees.

Through CSP, producers are paid based on their level of conservation performance – the better the performance, the higher the payment. CSP often bundles conservation activities and develops a conservation management system. This includes helping producers in the Southeast who want to better manage longleaf forests through use of prescribed burning and other management activities.

CSP is a new opportunity for producers interested in restoring and enhancing longleaf pine trees on their land. NRCS is piloting the program in several landscape-level conservation efforts, including the Longleaf Pine Initiative (LLPI).

NRCS created the initiative in 2010 and more than 260,000 acres of longleaf forests have been restored since its creation. This initiative aims to reverse the decline of longleaf pine ecosystems and expand healthy forests across the nine Southeastern states targeted through the initiative.

Both technical and financial assistance is available to producers in priority areas of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Producers are encouraged to visit with their local NRCS conservationists to learn about available assistance as well as information on field days and trainings hosted by conservation partners.

NRCS accepts applications for both programs on an ongoing basis. Find your local USDA service center and learn more about conservation opportunities at nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.

Tim Albritton is the state forester with NRCS in Alabama and can be reached at tim.albritton@al.usda.gov. Michael Sampson is the state forester with NRCS in Georgia and can be reached at michael.sampson@ga.usda.gov

By Tim Albritton and Micheal Sampson, Natural Resources Conservation Service 

Photo by Robert Abernethy