The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded a $200,000 contract under the Recovery Act -- popularly known as stimulus funds -- to the Longleaf Alliance to restore longleaf pine habitats throughout South Georgia, including the Fort Stewart area.
“Our objective is to re-establish longleaf pine habitats on pasturelands, old fields, or on former longleaf sites that were planted with slash or loblolly pines,” said Dean Gjerstad, vice president of The Longleaf Alliance.
The funds will be used to plant longleaf pines on privately owned land and where necessary to clear other types of trees from these lands. Areas of focus in south Georgia include the Altamaha River corridor, the Fort Stewart area, and the Okefenokee area.
The longleaf pine habitat is an endangered ecosystem. Prior to European settlement of North America, the forests covered an estimated 90 million acres of the South.
Clear-cutting decimated the forests to about 3% of their original coverage area. They serve as home to several threatened species.