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Friday, December 24, 2010 - 6:23am

Funds For Longleaf Pine Restoration Available

Georgia landowners have until January 7th to apply for federal money to grow Longleaf Pines. The 5-million dollar program is part of an effort to restore the slow-growing tree.

Longleaf pine forests used to cover millions of acres in the Southeast, now just a few thousand acres of this vital habitat remain.

The USDA says landowners in 116 Georgia counties are eligible for the money. USDA State Conservationist James Tillman says the funds will help pay to prepare the soil, plant the trees, and take care of them.

“As those trees mature and progress through the process producers will be coming in and doing thinning and also burning. Because, of course, burning is a natural process as those trees mature and become in a growth state.”

The tree practically disappeared at the turn of the century when it was harvested and replanted with faster growing trees. The Longleaf attracts hundreds of species of plants and animals and makes an ideal habitat.