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November 15, 2010

Longleaf Pine Initiative available to S.C. private landowners

Longleaf pine forests once covered millions of acres throughout the Southeastern United States. Today, only a few thousand acres of this vital habitat remains. To help sustain, enhance and restore longleaf pine forests, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced the availability of more than $12 million to help private landowners in 9 States restore and manage longleaf pine.

The Longleaf Pine Initiative will incorporate both technical and financial assistance providing one million dollars to help landowners in South Carolina improve habitat on agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest and Tribal land. Eligible landowners in South Carolina should submit applications no later than Dec. 17, 2010.

Approved participants will receive financial assistance for implementing conservation practices including planting longleaf pine, installing firebreaks, conducting prescribed burning and controlling invasive plants. Additional information on the Longleaf Pine Initiative is available by contacting your local USDA NRCS /Conservation District office.

Nine states are included in the Longleaf Pine Initiative: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

Longleaf pine habitat can contain as many as 300 different species of groundcover plants per acre, and approximately 60 percent of the amphibian and reptile species found in the Southeast. Additionally, this forested habitat is home to at least 122 endangered or threatened plant and animal species including the fox squirrel, northern bobwhite, red-cockaded woodpecker and gopher tortoise.

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