Project Name: 2011 Tornado Reforestation
Location: Ozark National Forest, AR
Number of Trees: 136,000
Northwest Arkansas’ Ozark National Forest contains more than a million acres of wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers, fishing streams, hiking trails, lakes and endangered wildlife in. Part of the famous Ozarks region, this national forest was established more than 100 years ago by President Theodore Roosevelt. It boasts more than 500 species of trees and woody plants with a majority (65 percent) of the forest being hardwood. However, while hardwoods are dominant, a certain pine is essential to the Ozark ecosystem.
Shortleaf pine can be found throughout America’s southeast. In fact, this softwood species is found in 22 states, but Arkansas and Louisiana’s climates suit it best. Shortleaf pines are particularly popular for commercial purposes, but it’s popular in the wild, too, especially with wildlife.
Shortleaf pine seeds are an important food staple for a variety of birds and small mammals and large mammals, such as deer. The pines’ canopy also provides important shelter for a number of species, including wild turkey, once a species on the brink of extinction in the U.S. Red-cockaded woodpecker, an endangered species, also lives in old-growth stands of shortleaf.
Several hundred acres of shortleaf pine forest habitat were damaged in 2011 due to tornado activity in the region. To help speed restoration of this important ecosystem, American Forests and the USDA Forest Service are working to restore 200 acres of Ozark National Forest’s Big Piney Ranger District with 136,000 shortleaf pines.
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