After 14 months of virtual meetings, the Texas Longleaf Implementation Team was excited to host Carol Denhof, President of The Longleaf Alliance, in June for a series of field tours and social gatherings. In addition to sharing our efforts and successes with Carol so that she may use it in future interactions with other teams throughout the range, it was a great excuse for our team to gather, network, and learn from one another.
Day One of the visit included tours on Forest Resource Consultants, Crest Natural Resources, and Duncan tracts in Newton County where long-term longleaf ecosystem management has been practiced. We also heard from Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service staff regarding research projects on monitoring bird and snake species occurrence that are ongoing on these tracts. The day wrapped up with a landowner social gathering in Lufkin, hosted by The Longleaf Alliance Board Members and East Texas landowners, Rufus & Marianna Duncan and Amanda & Thomas Haralson. The social and dinner was a fantastic end to a beautiful day in the field and served as an opportunity for area longleaf landowners to share ideas, experiences, strategies, and their love of longleaf.
Day Two started out at the East Texas Plant Materials Center (ETPMC) where we learned about efforts by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute’s East Texas Natives Project to develop locally adapted native seed sources for restoration efforts in our area. These efforts are breaking new ground and we hope they can serve as a model for the rest of the longleaf range as other teams work to develop groundcover restoration efforts.
The ETPMC was a perfect lead-in to our tour at the Winston 8 Ranch where long-term management with prescribed fire has led to an understory for the record books. Over the last 18 months, a team of botanists has documented over 850 unique species of herbaceous plants. Following the ecosystem tour, the Winston team hosted a wonderful BBQ lunch for our TLIT partners.
After lunch, we received a “virtual tour” of Pine Island Hunting Club and its longleaf and wildlife restoration efforts including a briefing by TPWD staff on the Neches River Corridor Turkey Project. The day wrapped up with a tour of the Boggy Slough Conservation Area where we learned about its philosophy of long-range planning, adaptive management, and a unique approach to conservation forestry that will serve as a model for East Texas landowners for generations to come.
The TLIT would like to extend a big thank you to Carol Denhof and The Longleaf Alliance for giving our team an excuse to break the “Zoom Cycle” and get together in the field. It was a wonderful time to network, learn from one another, and be inspired by some outstanding longleaf restoration and management. Until next time!