We’re Growing in 2019
Weather conditions in early February enabled our Land Manager Drew Ruttinger to begin planting longleaf pine seedlings on a 191-acre conservation tract in Long County, Georgia near Fort Stewart. The Southern Coastal Plains ecoregion, where the military installation and this neighboring tract are located, is part of the historic range for longleaf pine. Today almost half of Fort Stewart’s 280,000 acres lie in the longleaf pine ecosystem, thanks to the installation’s restoration efforts. The Land Trust’s current planting effort is aiding in this habitat restoration and contributing to a larger protected ecosystem. More than 30 endangered and threatened species rely on longleaf pines for their habitat.
Seedlings such as those pictured above have adaptive strategies for survival during their early development, and will soon establish a long tap root below ground that may eventually extend up to 12 feet. They will spend three to fifteen years in a grass stage, but before long will need help to thrive.
Understory growth and encroachment by other species can easily crowd out the young longleaf pine. This can be controlled, however, with prescribed fire. During a fire episode, the lengthy needles of a longleaf pine help protect the terminal bud, allowing it to survive and thrive while its competitors are killed off, damaged, or suppressed.
Our Land Management team will be returning to this tract in two to five years to begin a prescribed fire regime to manage for the best release of the young trees. In time, these trees will grow to over 80 feet tall, with a possible lifespan of 300 years or more. They are among the most resilient species to climate change, and can withstand severe windstorms, resist pests, tolerate wildfires, and survive drought.
Learn more about longleaf pines.