The has announced grants totaling $5.5 million in support of efforts to restore the longleaf pine ecosystem in nine states.
Awarded through the , the grants will support conservation work in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. Together, the twenty-four projects will provide educational and technical assistance related to longleaf restoration to more than 5,500 private landowners, resulting in the creation of more than 13,300 additional acres and the improvement of over 270,000 acres of longleaf pine habitat.
It's expected that grants awarded through the fund will generate more than $7 million in matching contributions, for a total conservation impact of $12.5 million. Now in its sixth year, the fund is a public-private partnership that includes the , , the , the , Southern Company, International Paper's Forestland Stewards initiative, the Altria Group, 's Southern Woods for At-Risk Wildlife Initiative, and Louis Bacon's Orton Foundation, which is an affiliate of the .
Unique to the Southeastern United States, the longleaf pine ecosystem once encompassed more than ninety million acres and is home to rare species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise, and indigo snake, as well as the bobwhite quail, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, and other important game species.
"Together with the help of private landowners, conservation partners, and many other groups and companies, we're making headway in reversing the decline of America's longleaf pine forests," said NRCS acting chief Leonard Jordan. "Partnerships like those funded through the Longleaf Stewardship Fund are critical to conserving this unique Southern landscape on both public and private lands, which benefits wildlife, natural resources and rural economies."
For a complete list of the Longleaf Stewardship Fund's 2017 , see the NFWF website.