Federal stimulus funds are now available to help Effingham County landowners establish longleaf pine forests on storm-damaged woodland areas in need of reforestation.
These funds are part of a grant procured by the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA.) The purpose of this stimulus program is to create jobs and help landowners promote healthy forest ecosystems by encouraging the re-establishment of longleaf pine throughout its native range.
Longleaf pine forests once were the most dominant forest type of the coastal plain, but have been reduced to three percent of historical acreage due to conversion to other land uses and forest types. Longleaf pine forests are highly valued for their resistance to damage by insects, diseases, wildfire and storms. They are also noted for their yield of high quality wood products, biological diversity and scenic beauty. Private landowners who own at least 10 acres of woodlands in need of reforestation due to tornados or other serious storms are eligible to participate in this program. The woodland areas must be within the natural range of longleaf pines and must be suitable for their establishment and growth.
Invasive plants are also targeted by ARRA funds. The aggressive nature of invasive plants allows them to choke out native vegetation, resulting in less productive forests and lower quality wildlife habitat.
Targeted species include cogongrass, non-native privet, non-native olive, Japanese climbing fern, Chinese tallowtree and multiflora rose. Incentive payments help cover the cost for the two herbicide treatments normally required for complete eradication. Landowners must own a minimum of ten acres of forestland with a minimum treatment size of three acres.
Technical assistance will be provided to landowners by GFC foresters who will take applications, evaluate sites, and determine the steps the landowner should take to successfully complete the project. After the practice is completed, the forester will inspect the area to determine if the management plan was successfully implemented, and authorize release of the incentive payment.
Applications will be accepted through Oct. 16 for longleaf restoration and through Oct. 31 for invasive plant control. Effingham County landowners interested in participating in either program should contact their local Georgia Forestry Commission forester, ShawnDiddie, at (912) 681-0490, or visit the Georgia Forestry Commission Web site at GaTrees.org.