Landowners hear benefits of planting longleaf pine

Landowners gathered as they were informed about longleaf pines
Landowners gathered as they were informed about longleaf pines

EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - U.S. Forest Service Press Release

More than 150 private landowners, industrial landowners and professional foresters attended a longleaf workshop in Diboll to learn how longleaf pines are more resistant to bugs, have hardier root systems and can grow as quickly as loblolly pines.

The meeting, sponsored by the Texas/Louisiana Longleaf Taskforce and Texas Forest Service helped private landowners understand the significance of longleaf ecosystem and the benefits that come with managing longleaf. The U.S. Forest Service and Texas Forest Service have long been advocates of the benefits of longleaf pines and support reestablishing this species of tree across the south.

Kent Evans, operations team leader with the U.S. Forest Service, said the longleaf pine is a fire dependent species and tolerates fire better than loblolly pine. That benefit would have been evident during the Bearing Fire.

"The 22,000 acre Bearing Fire ripped across private land through many acres of loblolly plantations that had not been thinned or burned in years. The fire was easier to control when it moved onto National Forest land that had been in a regular rotation of prescribed fire," Evans said. "Landowners that have damaged or destroyed pine stands may find they now have an opportunity to replant using longleaf pine," he said.

Speakers told the group that the longleaf ecosystem is the most diverse ecosystem outside the tropical rainforests. Historically, longleaf pine covered the south but now there is only about three million acres of longleaf left and there is push to increase that acreage to eight million over the next 10 years. Landowners also heard how financial assistance, prescribed burning, wildlife management and seedling programs are available.

Jamie Sowell, fire management officer for the Angelina and Sabine National Forests, explained to the group how fire is an essential component of longleaf ecosystems. The pine is highly adapted to fire and has traits that help spread fire while at the same time it is resistant to fire due to its thick bark. A stand of longleaf pine has an open, park-like appearance with an under story of grasses and a few scattered shrubs and hardwoods.

 "As resource professionals we understand that ultimately if we are going to succeed in reestablishing longleaf pine it will be because of the local landowner's willingness to re-establish this plant across its former range," Evans said.

Evans added that a smoke management workshop for landowners is being planned for the fall.

Copyright 2011 KTRE. All Rights Reserved.