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#06-264 October 2, 2006  

Longleaf Alliance conference to be held Nov. 13-16 in Georgia

The Longleaf Alliance’s Sixth Conference will be held Nov. 13-16 at the University of Georgia’s Conference Center in Tifton, Ga.

The Longleaf Alliance is a grassroots organization formed in 1996 to serve as a clearinghouse forLongleaf Pine information on regenerating, restoring and managing longleaf pine; provide networking opportunities for its members to connect with other landowners, managers and researchers with similar interests and problems; and coordinate technical meetings and education seminars. 

The Alliance’s members include consulting foresters and wildlife biologists, private landowners, corporations, state and federal government agencies, including the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and various conservation organizations.
           
For more information on the Longleaf Alliance conference, visit: http://www.caes.uga.edu/campus/tifton/conferences/events/longleaf/index.html or http://www.auburn.edu/academic/forestry_wildlife/longleafalliance/ or call (334) 844-1032.
           
The Longleaf Alliance has been phenomenally successful. Longleaf pine ecosystems once dominated about 90 million acres from southern Virginia to eastern Texas, but overexploitation with little or no regard to regeneration, depredations by feral hogs, alterations in the fire regime, and other factors decimated these forests. In the last decade, the Longleaf Alliance has been the major force behind the planting of one million acres of longleaf pine, and also helped landowners restore many more thousands of acres of longleaf through natural regeneration.

“Ten years ago, there was only about three million acres of longleaf remaining out of an original 90 million acres, but that acreage has been increased by 33 percent since then,” said Dean Gjerstad, co-founder and co-director of the Longleaf Alliance. “It is a phenomenal conservation success story of which landowners and land managers should be very proud.”
           
Johnny Stowe, DNR forester and wildlife biologist and one of the meeting’s planners, says longleaf pine savannas, woodlands and forests have phenomenal biodiversity. “It is among the richest array of plants and animals in the temperate world,” Stowe said, “and of course, intact, frequently burned longleaf ecosystems are highly productive wildlife habitat, especially for grassland birds like bobwhite quail. Not only that, but longleaf is a great investment for risk-averse landowners, since it produces high-value products like telephone poles and prime lumber, and is resistant to insects, diseases, wildfire and wind-damage.”
           
Another unique attribute of South Carolina’s longleaf forests is the key role they played in the state’s history, and their contribution to the Palmetto State’s heritage, culture, traditions and character. “Like the use of prescribed fire, which longleaf is closely linked to, longleaf is part of who we are,” Stowe said. “Fire and longleaf are inextricably linked in South Carolina’s past, and we need to make sure they are part of our future.”
           
Georgetown native Rhett Johnson, also co-founder and co-director of the Longleaf Alliance, bemoans the fact that “our school children spend lots of time learning about the tropical rainforests of South and Central America, while the just-as-impressive longleaf pine forest disappears un-noticed in their backyards.”

The conference’s general sessions and field tour will focus on needs, successes, and opportunities in longleaf pine management for the private and public sectors. The poster sessions and associated socials will be open to a wide range of topics and will be used to foster partnerships between individuals and organizations in the public and private sectors. Emphasis will be placed on addressing economic, understory, silvicultural, ecological, and social/political issues challenging landowners and resource managers interested in the management and restoration of longleaf pine.
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