Expert Reports Longleaf Pine Disappearing in South Carolina
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. The longleaf pine, which once covered tens of millions of acres across the Southeast, is in danger of disappearing in parts of South Carolina, says a forest conservationist with the Clemson Extension Service.
"We're trying to work together to promote the traditional land uses in the Lowcountry," Bob Franklin said. "We're trying to get the general public to appreciate the ecological history of the pine forest, so they will be more supportive of private landowners who plant longleaf pine forests."
One area where the longleaf pine thrives is Hobcaw Barony, a 17,500-acre nature reserve north of Georgetown.
Longleaf pines once covered 92 million acres throughout the Southeast but now that has dwindled to about 3 million acres, Franklin said.
The trees were used largely for turpentine and for materials for ships. The longleaf is resistant to diseases and insects that affect other Southern pines and is highly valued as timber.
But over the years, people stopped planting the pines because they take a long time to grow, Franklin said.
The remaining patches of longleaf pine are home to endangered plants and animals.
Franklin and others are working to let landowners know how to manage the longleaf pine and the importance of controlled burns to promote the health of longleaf forests.
There are about 2,000 acres of longleaf pine at Hobcaw Barony, according to George Chastain, the manager of the preserve.
Controlled burns help thin undergrowth and eliminate thick layers of pine needles on the forest floor, helping prevent wild fires from spreading, Franklin said.
After the controlled burns, native species of plants and flowers spring up in areas that are cleared of undergrowth and needles.
Source: Associated Press