In 1992, a 640 acre tract of land was added to the Conecuh National Forest through the Forest Service's land exchange program. Prior to the exchange the entire area was clearcut. The district is using an ecosystem approach to manage this area. The upland sites are suited to longleaf pine, which has been in decline throughout the southeast due to shifting patterns of land use and management of the forest resources. There is evidence that much of this 640 acre tract was in longleaf pine as late as the 1950s. It is suspected that the area was allowed to convert to loblolly and slash pine by exclusion of fire after the longleaf was harvested. The district identified 316 acres of suitable longleaf pine sites and reestablished native longleaf to these areas. An additional 25 acres of slash pine were planted after site prep. The decline of the longleaf pine-sandhill ecosystem was accompanied by the decline of several species, such as the red-cockaded woodpecker and the gopher tortoise. Restoring habitat will benefit the recovery of these species. The establishment of dove fields will also provide opportunities for disabled hunters. The Conecuh Ranger District has formed partnerships with Lurleen B. Wallace Junior College and Pleasant Home School to facilitate use of the forest as an outdoor learning lab.
This project was supported by our corporate partner, the Alcoa Foundation.
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