Before the United States was settled by Europeans, longleaf pine forests covered about 90 million acres of the Southeast.
Post-settlement, most of these forests were logged for turpentine and lumber, and by 1975 they had been reduced to about 5 million acres.
Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with private landowners, state and federal agencies and conservation groups to restore the glory of the longleaf.
The motivation for many of these conservationists is to help the many at-risk and endangered birds and wildlife that thrive in longleaf forests, from the red-cockaded woodpecker to the gopher tortoise.
The Sovereign Nation of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana has an additional motive: basket-weaving, a significant part of its heritage. [Read more…]