Collaborative Partnerships:

Ecosystems

Longleaf
Recreating a longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem requires fire, usually through prescribed burns, to create open savanna. During their first few years of growth, longleaf pines do not look like trees, but grass, until fire sparks their growth.

Longleaf Legacy

The Longleaf Legacy Program helps restore the South's stately longleaf pine ecosystem, with the added benefit of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. The program operates through a partnership between Southern Company—including its four traditional operating companies—and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Longleaf pine forests once carpeted 95 million acres of the southern United States. Today, less than 3 percent remains. Longleaf forests provide important habitat for bobwhite quails, red-cockaded woodpeckers, wild turkeys, gopher tortoises and a host of other plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth. Longleaf ecosystems contain a stunning diversity of plants—nearly 600 species, half of which are considered rare. Restoration of the ecosystem is a top priority for government agencies, conservation groups and the public. Millions of people enjoy hunting, fishing, birding and hiking in longleaf forests.

The Longleaf Legacy program was launched in 2004 and is the largest public agency-private corporation conservation funding effort for this ecosystem. Southern Company and NFWF each contribute $500,000 annually to this 10-year partnership. The combined $1 million is then made available through a competitive grant program for projects within the Southern Company service territory. Grantees are required to match all awards. In addition, Southern Company provides $100,000 annually to support the NFWF's own longleaf conservation efforts.

Longleaf Stewardship Fund

Building on nearly a decade of investment to restore vanishing longleaf pine forests in the southeastern United States, NFWF (the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation) has established the Longleaf Stewardship Fund, a landmark public-private partnership that includes the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the USDA Forest Service (FS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Southern Company. With the combined financial and technical resources of the group, the Fund will support accelerated restoration of the longleaf pine ecosystem and implementation of the Range-Wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine, while advancing the mission objectives of each of the partners.

Press Release | Press Video | Longleaf Stewardship Fund | More about NFWF | How to apply

Funding Priorities

The goal of the Longleaf Legacy program is to advance the restoration and protection of the historic Longleaf Pine Range to achieve viable ecosystems on public and private lands. Grants are awarded to support this goal and the following objectives:

  • Accomplish on-the-ground restoration projects, particularly reforestation, that will result in measurable improvements to forest health, wildlife habitat and targeted species populations
  • Advance implementation of the Open Pine Decision Support Tool (View Map - note: GA priorities to be added soon), National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (View Map) and the America's Longleaf (View Map)
  • Provide demonstration-scale restoration projects that can be used to showcase restoration methods and techniques to other practitioners and landowners
  • Ensure restoration and protection projects are maintained and managed in a sustainable fashion
  • Engage the public in on-the-ground restoration and protection activities that promote awareness of the significance of the Longleaf Pine Ecosystem

The following activities are priorities of the Longleaf Legacy program:

  • Reforesting existing or historic longleaf pine ecosystems, including converting loblolly or other non-native stands to longleaf
  • Restoring the understory using proven restoration techniques such as planting native species, thinning, invasives control and prescribed burns
  • Expanding on-the-ground restoration and protection activities on private lands by increasing technical assistance to private landowners in coordination with local NRCS field offices and other partners

Accomplishments

  • Awarded 48 grants to 18 different conservation organizations and agencies
  • Awarded nearly $4.6 million; with matching funds, total on-the-ground impact of more than $59.6 million
  • More than 83,000 acres directly replanted with more than 42 million seedlings*

* Figures are approximate. Includes completed and anticipate results, estimated for funded projects estimated for funded projects cumulatively through 2012.

2012 Grant Recipients

The Longleaf Legacy program is focused on restoring the South's signature longleaf pine ecosystem to conserve biological diversity and sequester carbon. The following organizations were awarded new Longleaf Legacy grants in 2012:

  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources - in partnership with the Department of Defense, the Georgia Land Trust and the Longleaf Alliance, will develop a longleaf implementation team, plant longleaf on 1,350 acres and prescribe burn on 5,000 acres of land in the Altamaha corridor and on Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) lands closer to Ft. Stewart. This project will help link protected ACUB lands with Ft. Stewart, creating corridors for species currently isolated on the base.
  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources - in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy, the Orianne Society and private landowners, will plant 310 acres of longleaf, restore groundcover on 215 acres and prescribe burn 3,100 acres in the upper Altamaha-Ocmulgee River corridor, complementing efforts taking place on the adjacent Fort Stewart/Altamaha Significant Geographic Area. This project will serve as a model for longleaf restoration efforts on private lands throughout the region, resulting in less isolation of quality habitats, mitigation of low-density residential sprawl and specifically benefitting the threatened indigo snake and gopher tortoise.
  • National Wild Turkey Federation - in partnership with the South Carolina Forestry Commission and Georgia Forestry Commission, will facilitate longleaf restoration through targeted outreach and incentive funding to non-industrial private forest landowners and plant 960 acres of longleaf in the Savannah River Corridor. This project will help bridge the gap from the western South Carolina sandhills to the Ashepoo/Combahee/Edisto River Basin in lower South Carolina, and the Ft. Stewart/Altamaha SGA on the Georgia side of the Savannah River.
  • Florida Forest Service - as part of the Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership, will establish 900 acres of longleaf and prescribe burn over 59,000 acres in the Blackwater River, Pine Log, and Point Washington State Forests in the Florida Panhandle, increasing longleaf forest enhancements in the vital area between Eglin Air Force Base and the Conecuh National Forest. The goal is to ensure a sustainable longleaf pine forest with an uneven-aged forest structure, protecting land from natural disasters and providing habitat for red-cockaded woodpeckers, fox squirrels and other game and non-game species.
  • Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, Inc. - in partnership with the Longleaf Alliance; USDA; the National Wildlife Federation; and Auburn, Tuskegee and Alabama A&M Universities, will provide outreach and technical assistance to over 150 limited-resource and socially disadvantaged landowners, impacting 2,000 acres in Alabama through a mix of active longleaf leaf pine reestablishment and management.
  • The Nature Conservancy, Alabama - in partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation, will establish 100 acres of longleaf at the Splinter Hill Bog Preserve and utilize prescribed fire expertise as well as established landowner outreach tactics to encourage and assist private landowners to manage longleaf on their lands through the application of prescribed fire. This project also will support ongoing work with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, NRCS, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership.
  • The Nature Conservancy, Mississippi - will create a local coalition to determine longleaf restoration goals, burn 650 acres and plant longleaf on 200 acres on areas around DeSoto National Forest and Camp Shelby. Coalition partners include the US Forest Service; US Fish and Wildlife Service; NRCS; Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; Mississippi Forestry Commission; Mississippi State University Extension Service; University of Southern Mississippi; the Longleaf Alliance and private lands stakeholders with longleaf experience in the Desoto National Forest/Camp Shelby SGA.
  • Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks - coordinating with Wildlife Mississippi, Mississippi Forestry Commission, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wild Turkey Federation, Audubon and private landowners, will provide seedlings and cost-share assistance to plant nearly 642,000 longleaf pine trees on 1,180 acres of private lands in south-central Mississippi.

Additionally, a special project funded to inform the overall longleaf program strategy included: Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center - will partner with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to convene a collaborative working group of longleaf pine restoration professionals to synthesize the current state of longleaf knowledge and develop a set of longleaf pine conservation outcomes and performance metrics. This information will be used to help select and evaluate investments made through NFWF's Longleaf Stewardship Fund grant program.

2011 Grant Recipients

The Longleaf Legacy program is focused on restoring the South's signature longleaf pine ecosystem to conserve biological diversity and sequester carbon. The following organizations were awarded new Longleaf Legacy grants in 2011:

  • The Nature Conservancy - to leverage an existing partnership with the Army to create a landscape-scale initiative with multiple stakeholders including Fort Benning and the surrounding area in west Georgia. The project will involve land protection, restoration and management of the longleaf pine ecosystem, eventually protecting 30,000 acres; promotion of public acceptance of longleaf protection and management strategies; development of scientific expertise to guide land protection, restoration and management; and creation of a model landscape for implementing the America's Longleaf Conservation Plan.
  • The Orianne Society - to support an ongoing effort to restore longleaf on the Orianne Indigo Snake Preserve (OISP) and the surrounding area in south Georgia. The Orianne Society will prepare land for longleaf restoration on an estimated 6,500 acres per year for two years. Of that total acreage, 520 acres of the OISP will be replanted with longleaf pine and native groundcover, and the area will be maintained in perpetuity through prescribed burning and other land management practices.
  • Florida Forest Service - to increase the acreage of healthy longleaf pine ecosystems in Florida by helping non-industrial private forest landowners make the long-term investment required to establish and maintain this valuable ecosystem. It is anticipated that 4,000 acres of private lands will be treated with a variety of longleaf ecosystem enhancements, including planting more than 1 million longleaf trees, applying prescribed fire, conducting mechanical underbrush reduction techniques, improving timber stands, establishing native understory vegetation and treating noxious invasive weed species in existing longleaf pine stands.
  • Georgia Forestry Commission - to assist 300 Natural Resource Conservation Service-Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program contracts. Foresters will makes sure all phases of reforestation occur, including site preparation, tree planting (and seedling care) and post-planting treatments where needed. More than 21,000 acres of longleaf will be planted during this part of the project. Technical service also will be provided to landowners with existing longleaf pine or suitable sites for establishment. This service will be provided via forest stewardship plans, primarily through contracting with consulting foresters throughout the priority area. More than 10,000 acres of longleaf sites will be evaluated and specific management and reforestation technical advice will be provided.
  • Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) - to restore approximately 179 acres of longleaf pine and associated wildlife habitat. MFC will conduct outreach to identify private landowners who want to restore longleaf on their property. Working with partners such as the Mississippi State University Extension, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the U.S. Forest Service, MFC will inform landowners in the longleaf range about how managing longleaf pine and the complementing understory can provide both economic and wildlife habitat diversity value. Additional work will include assisting landowners with site preparation prescriptions and recommendations, identifying potential vendors to perform the work and assisting in planting and survival checks.

In addition, The Longleaf Alliance Inc. will receive additional funding for its current Longleaf Legacy grant to support restoration of longleaf pine on 340 acres of the Nokuse Plantation in Florida, a priority area for longleaf restoration within the GCPEP landscape.

And continuing support is being provided under Longleaf Legacy grants originally made in 2010 to The Nature Conservancy in Florida and the National Wildlife Federation in Alabama for longleaf pine restoration projects in those states.

The Private Landowner Technical Assistance Program supports field biologists and other habitat professionals working with U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field offices, providing technical assistance to private landowners to optimize wildlife conservation on private lands. Additional projects under this program supported by Longleaf Legacy include

  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources - to fund two DNR wildlife biologists located in NRCS offices in Albany and Fitzgerald, Ga. These biologists will provide technical guidance to landowners on the establishment and management of longleaf pine forests and associated native early succession ground cover. Habitat gains and representative avian response to these practices will be monitored on a sample of project sites.
  • The Longleaf Alliance Inc. - to conduct landowner workshops and training programs for natural resource professionals, and employ two longleaf delivery specialists to target priority areas in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi. These specialists will work with NRCS to plant 1,200 acres of longleaf, apply prescribed burns on 1,800 acres, and treat 600 acres for invasive species. These efforts will contribute to the range-wide effort to restore the longleaf ecosystem.

2010 Grant Recipients

The Longleaf Legacy program is focused on restoring the South's signature longleaf pine ecosystem to conserve biological diversity and sequester carbon. The following organizations were awarded Longleaf Legacy grants in 2010:

  • The Longleaf Alliance - to continue the Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership for restoration of 5,185 acres of longleaf pine by planting 2.4 million seedlings. The Partnership will be used as a model to expand and include the Eglin Air Force Base/Blackwater State Forest/Conecuh National Forest Significant Geographic Area in Florida and Alabama as identified by the Range-Wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine.
  • The Florida Division of Forestry - to restore 1,400 acres of clear-cut sand, loblolly and slash-pine plantations to longleaf by planting 1,016,400 seedlings. This project will aid in the connectivity of the Conecuh National Forest/Blackwater State Forest/Eglin Air Force Base Significant Landscape Area in Florida and Alabama as described by America's Longleaf.
  • The Nature Conservancy, Florida - to restore 600 acres of longleaf pine through the planting of 90,000 seedlings in Torreya State Park, provide fire assistance on 60,000 acres and plant 6,000 pounds of wiregrass seeds. These activities directly support the Range-Wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine.
  • National Wildlife Federation - to restore longleaf pine habitats on private lands in Alabama. This project will restore 15,000 acres through a mix of active longleaf pine re-establishment and landowner outreach, and will have the added benefit of building community leaders and networks to sustain landscape conservation over time.
  • The Nature Conservancy, Alabama - to restore longleaf pine on approximately 456 acres by planting 126,000 containerized longleaf pine seedlings. Native groundcover will be improved via prescribed burning on an additional 500 acres through a federal-state-Conservancy partnership.
  • Alabama Forestry Commission - to restore a total of 667 acres to longleaf pine on four state forests through site preparation, burning and replanting with approximately 363,515 containerized longleaf pine seedlings. This project will help protect and enhance land and water ecosystems through invasive species management in longleaf understory and overstory. Once completed, the project areas will be utilized for public recreation, education, awareness and outreach.

2009 Grant Recipients

The Longleaf Legacy program is focused on restoring the South's signature longleaf pine ecosystem to conserve biological diversity and sequester carbon. The following organizations were awarded Longleaf Legacy grants:

  • National Wild Turkey Federation - to conduct a three-year initiative that will restore 10,000 acres of longleaf pine in its natural range on private and public lands in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. This project is part of NWTF's continued effort to help facilitate the restoration of longleaf pine across its native range in the Southeast to benefit game and non-game.
  • Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge - to restore longleaf pine forest habitat on approximately 834 acres of the refuge through site preparation, prescribed burning and reforestation with containerized longleaf pine seedlings. This project will benefit migratory and resident avian species, including Northern Bobwhite, brown-headed nuthatch, Eastern wild turkey, and Bachman's sparrow.

2008 Grant Recipients

The Longleaf Legacy program is focused on restoring the South's signature longleaf pine ecosystem to conserve biological diversity and sequester carbon. The following organizations were awarded Longleaf Legacy grants:

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Cahaba River NWR) - to restore longleaf pine on 325 acres and plant 130,000 longleaf seedlings in the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama. Restored longleaf forests will be connected to two additional refuge restoration areas to the south, including a tract that was replanted through a previous Longleaf Legacy grant in 2004.
  • The Nature Conservancy, Florida - to restore 300 acres of longleaf and enhance an additional 260 acres of groundcover habitat along the lower Perdido River. A total of 90,000 longleaf seedlings will be planted over a four-year period. The Perdido River Nature Preserve comprises more than 2,300 acres of land and is part of corridor of protected lands along both sides of the Perdido River. This project builds on a 2004 grant award that restored 168 acres of longleaf on this preserve.
  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources - to support conservation and restoration of 8,398 acres of longleaf habitat and the planting of over 2 million trees in Southwest Georgia. This project will benefit red-cockaded woodpecker and other species dependent on the longleaf ecosystem, as well as numerous isolated wetlands and other forested wetland habitats. The property will be protected in perpetuity as a State Heritage Preserve, and managed as a Wildlife Management Area.

2007 Grant Recipients

The Longleaf Legacy program is focused on restoring the South's signature longleaf pine ecosystem to conserve biological diversity and sequester carbon. The following organizations were awarded Longleaf Legacy grants:

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Cahaba River NWR) - to restore longleaf pine on 325 acres and plant 130,000 longleaf seedlings in the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama. Restored longleaf forests will be connected to two additional refuge restoration areas to the south, including a tract that was replanted through a previous Longleaf Legacy grant in 2004.
  • The Nature Conservancy, Florida - to restore 300 acres of longleaf and enhance an additional 260 acres of groundcover habitat along the lower Perdido River. A total of 90,000 longleaf seedlings will be planted over a four-year period. The Perdido River Nature Preserve comprises more than 2,300 acres of land and is part of corridor of protected lands along both sides of the Perdido River. This project builds on a 2004 grant award that restored 168 acres of longleaf on this preserve.
  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources - to support conservation and restoration of 8,430 acres of longleaf habitat and the planting of over 2 million trees in southwest Georgia. This project will benefit red-cockaded woodpecker and other species dependent on the longleaf ecosystem, as well as numerous isolated wetlands and other forested wetland habitats. The property will be protected in perpetuity as a State Heritage Preserve, and managed as a Wildlife Management Area.

2006 Grant Recipients

The Longleaf Legacy program is focused on restoring the South's signature longleaf pine ecosystem to conserve biological diversity and sequester carbon. The following organizations were awarded Longleaf Legacy grants:

  • Leon County Division of Parks and Recreation - to restore 38 acres to longleaf and wiregrass in Leon County in the Florida panhandle. This restored habitat will be used as an educational tool for Master Wildlife Volunteers and for public school programs.
  • The Nature Conservancy, Florida - to restore 577 acres of longleaf on the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve in the panhandle. This 10-year restoration, funded by Southern Company and subsidiary Gulf Power Company, complements longleaf restoration efforts on the nearby Apalachicola National Forest and Torreya State Park, and contributes to the 1 million-acre conservation corridor that extends from the Georgia border to the Gulf of Mexico.
  • National Wild Turkey Federation - to restore 7,000 acres of longleaf on private and public lands over the next three years. Restoration on public lands will take place primarily on military installations, national forests, and wildlife management areas. The National Wild Turkey Federation will team up with Georgia-Pacific for the private lands component, hosting four workshops and providing personal consultations with biologists and foresters on longleaf restoration and forest management for interested landowners. This is the largest award made to date through the Longleaf Legacy program.
  • Auburn University, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences - to pilot methods to reintroduce fire in stands of longleaf in montane areas that have excessive undergrowth and fuel. Mountain longleaf often grows on steep slopes and rocky soil, which provides challenging conditions for fire and other types of management. Through this pilot project several different approaches will be taken to restore longleaf in Alabama, with the goal of creating management recommendations useful throughout the mountain longleaf’s range.

2005 Grant Recipients

The Longleaf Legacy program is focused on restoring the South's signature longleaf pine ecosystem to conserve biological diversity and sequester carbon. The following organizations were awarded Longleaf Legacy grants:

  • Georgia Forestry Commission - to help restore approximately 244 acres of longleaf pine habitat by planting nearly 150,000 longleaf pines seedlings in the Dixon Memorial State Forest, which is adjacent to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. This project will also provide educational and research opportunities on longleaf pine ecosystems for students, landowners, universities, cooperative forestry organizations and the general public.
  • Alabama State Parks Division - to restore 200 acres of the Gulf State Park by planting 109,000 pine seedlings to a site with storm-damaged mixed timber. The restoration of the native longleaf pine/wiregrass savannah ecosystem will revitalize native plant and animal species and further the park's educational goals.
  • Mississippi State University - to encourage landowners to re-establish longleaf pine forests on an estimated 705 acres of private properties, providing ecological restoration and carbon sequestration by planting approximately 408,000 seedlings.
  • Tall Timbers Research Station - to restore 150 acres of longleaf pine habitat at the Pebble Hill Plantation near Thomasville, Georgia, and at the Tall Timbers Research Station near Tallahassee, Florida. This restoration will provide long-term habitat for declining wildlife species, such as Northern Bobwhite and gopher tortoises.
  • The Tukabatchee Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America - to plant longleaf pine on 42 acres of clear-cut land to enhance the 442 acres of longleaf pine that occupy a significant portion of this 744 acre Warner Scout Reservation. This project will also help restore the canebrake pitcher plant ecosystem in these same areas.
  • The National Wild Turkey Federation, Inc. - to return approximately 250 acres of current loblolly pine and mixed hardwood timber to longleaf pine habitat on the Corps of Engineers-managed land at Lake Allatoona in Georgia.
  • The Nature Conservancy of Florida - to restore longleaf pine habitat on 168 acres of the Perdido River Nature Preserve near Pensacola, Florida. A restored longleaf ecosystem will provide a healthier, more productive, and more diverse forest system and will complement the Nature Conservancy's program to restore this native ecosystem on a large scale in the panhandle.
  • The Nature Conservancy of Georgia - to restore approximately 600 acres of longleaf pine habitat in Coffee and Early Counties, Georgia. This project will not only plant longleaf pine trees on 300 acres of the Nature Conservancy Broxton Rocks and Shackleford Landing properties, but also it will greatly expand the harvesting and planting of wiregrass and other native herbs, as well as re-establish prescribed fire to maintain proper habitat balance.
  • The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division - to expand their longleaf pine ecosystem restoration project at the Mayhaw Wildlife Management Area. This project will restore 80 acres of habitat by planting longleaf trees in small to medium size gaps in the existing wildlife management area. In addition, the project will promote the development of a groundcover market for wiregrass seeds and plugs through incentive payments to landowners for growing season burns.
  • Berry College - to establish longleaf pine habitat on 60 acres of pine forest that were damaged by southern pine beetle infestation. This project will also help restore about 10 acres in the 160 acres of existing longleaf stands, which contain some relic longleaf trees dating back to the late 1700s to early 1800s, in order to promote natural longleaf pine regeneration. This project will also provide hands-on education and research opportunities for the students and others at the college.

2004 Grant Recipients

The Longleaf Legacy program is focused on restoring the South's signature longleaf pine ecosystem to conserve biological diversity and sequester carbon. The following organizations were awarded Longleaf Legacy grants:

  • Applied Research Center of Alabama - To restore native longleaf pine to approximately 1,000 acres of current loblolly and Virginia pine plantations in the Talladega National Forest over the next three years. This project, which will plant nearly 600,000 longleaf seedlings, will create new habitat for red-cockaded woodpeckers, Northern bobwhite quail, Bachman’s sparrows and a host of other species that depend on longleaf forests.
  • USDI-Fish and Wildlife Service/Eufaula NWR - To support the transition from predominantly mature loblolly pine forest to longleaf pine on 400 acres in the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge. This conversion restores the landscape to the historic fire-dominant longleaf pine habitat type allowing more frequent prescribed burning benefiting numerous plant and animal species.
  • The Nature Conservancy of Alabama - To reforest 185 acres of mountain longleaf pine habitat on the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR)/State Parks - To restore the longleaf pine ecosystem on 254 acres of DNR managed land.
  • The Nature Conservancy of Florida - To restore 254 acres of longleaf pine/wiregrass habitat on three Nature Conservancy preserves located in the Florida panhandle.
  • Longleaf Alliance - To encourage ecological restoration and carbon sequestration through the planting of longleaf pine trees on at least 500 private acres.

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