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April 22, 2010

Longleaf Alliance regional conference now to be held in Columbia Oct. 12-15

The Longleaf Alliance's Eighth Regional Conference that had been scheduled for Oct. 12-15 in Wilmington, N.C., will now be held in Columbia instead.

The location of the Longleaf Alliance conference was changed due to construction delays at the conference center in Wilmington, N.C.

"We are absolutely delighted that the Longleaf Alliance conference will be held here in the Palmetto State," said Johnny Stowe, heritage preserve manager, wildlife biologist and forester with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Registration will be opening soon.

The longleaf conference will be centered at the Columbia Marriott at 1200 Hampton St. Field trips, a major part of the meeting, will be held in the McBee/Patrick area, in large part on the S.C. Forestry Commission's Sand Hills State Forest and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge. There will also be outings to private lands in the area. Field trips will focus on both the ecological as well as the cultural and economic aspects (such as pine straw raking, hunting leases and timber) of longleaf pine ecosystems.

The Longleaf Alliance is a grassroots organization formed in 1995 to serve as a clearinghouse for information on regenerating, restoring and managing longleaf pine forests; 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, and various conservation organizations.
Stowe said 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 relatively 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."

South Carolina's natural resources are essential for economic development and contribute nearly $30 billion and 230,000 jobs to the state's economy. Find out why Life's Better Outdoors.

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