Longleaf for All Marks First Year of Accomplishments

November 24, 2021 IMG 2997

By Tiffany Woods, National Wildlife Federation; Luther Jones, retired USDA NRCS; Stephanie Hertz and Hannah Sodolak, Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute; Kyle Jones, U.S. Forest Service

In less than a year, America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative’s (ALRI) newest working group, Longleaf for All, is seeing incredible results in the forestry outreach community. Longleaf for All utilizes ALRI’s network and platform to increase minority participation in forestry-related programs, practices and activities, and help landowners reap the economic, ecological, and cultural benefits of owning forested land. In the past calendar year (2021), Longleaf for All has achieved the following results:

  • Formed a highly effective working group consisting of 23 participants from various organizations and entities formed to engage and guide Longleaf for All. This group has convened five times (as of October 2021) through highly interactive virtual meetings and identified challenges facing minority landowners and professionals, as well as recommendations and networks that have led to potential on-the-ground results through the development of demonstration projects.
  • Developed a charter to officially guide the leaders and working group on goals and outcomes by setting an annual plan of work, approved by the Longleaf Partnership Council (LPC) and Longleaf Federal Coordinating Committee.
  • Created a Barriers and Recommendations document detailing the challenges that face minority landowners, as well as guidance and action steps to address these challenges. The four main categories include: 1) Property rights; 2) Property size and scale of properties; 3) Access to capital, resources, and markets; and 4) Outreach challenges from distrust and disconnection.
  • A number of these recommendations have already been integrated into ALRI’s 2022-2024 Strategic Priorities and Actions document, and these recommendations are being provided to ALRI and partners with additional plans forming for implementation and next steps.
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provided data on historical participation in the Farm Bill program to identify gaps and areas to prioritize in the future. The Longleaf for All Committee has requested additional NRCS granular data to pinpoint the locations to target our efforts.
  • Demonstration Projects: On behalf of Longleaf for All, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) applied for funding for two shovel-ready projects:
    • Herbert Hodges Demonstration Forest: NWF and NRCS Georgia are working together to develop a model farm in South Georgia with Mr. Herbert Hodges. Work is scheduled to start in the fall of 2021, with outreach events planned to begin spring of 2022 including a “Learn and Burn” and workshop focusing on estate planning.
    • Hoke County Community Forest: NWF was awarded a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the Longleaf Landscape Stewardship Fund to work with project partners (including the Sandhills Prescribed Burn Association and the Longleaf Alliance, among many others) to restore longleaf pine on a community-owned forest in Hoke County, North Carolina. Grant funds will support longleaf pine restoration activities, including wiregrass and longleaf seedling plantings on the forest. This Community Forest will generate timber sale revenue that will go directly to the citizens of Hoke County, which is a minority-majority county. Funders of this project include: Altria, U.S. Department of Defense, USDA-NRCS, U.S. Forest Service, and NRCS North Carolina.

Another significant accomplishment has been the level of engagement, excitement, and camaraderie that Longleaf for All has brought to the ALRI, forestry, and minority outreach community. In a challenging period from the COVID-19 pandemic, this working group has brought individuals together and garnered new levels of excitement from the many meetings and presentations thus far. One individual that has worked in minority outreach perhaps captured it best by saying: “I’ve waited my entire career to work on a project like this.”

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Longleaf for All Working Group Members:

Ryan Bollinger, The Longleaf Alliance ● Sam Cook, North Carolina State University ● Freddie Davis, Federation of Southern Cooperatives ● Jacqueline Davis-Slay, USDA, Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement ● Colette DeGarady, The Nature Conservancy ● Amadou Diop, USDA Forest Service Southern Region ● Amelia Dortch, USDA NRCS ● Chris Erwin, American Forest Foundation ● Jennifer Fawcett, North Carolina State University ● Mavis Gragg, Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program ● Stephanie Hertz,* Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute ● Kyle Jones,* USDA Forest Service ● Luther Jones (Co-lead*), retired USDA NRCS ● Laurel Kays, North Carolina State University ● Jessica McGuire, Quail Forever ● J.T. Pynne, Georgia Wildlife Federation ● Lexie Rue-Harris, USDA Forest Service Southern Region ● Jon Scott, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation  ● John Ann Shearer, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service ● Hannah Sodolak,* Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute  ● Matthew Vandersande, USDA NRCS ● Jesse Wimberley, NC Sandhills Prescribed Burn Association Coordinator  ● Tiffany Woods (Co-lead*), National Wildlife Federation

*Longleaf for All Leadership Team

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