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Longleaf pine stands gain protections through easement agreement
Forest agencies and a conservation group have competed an almost $2.3 million easement agreement to save longleaf pine forestland in East Texas.
The conservation easement with Portland, Oregon-based Campbell Global LLC was federally funded through the Forest Legacy Program.
The nearly 5,000 acres of forestland in Longleaf Ridge have special significance to East Texas dating back to when Temple-Inland managed the land, according to David Bezanson, the Nature Conservancy of Texas' protection and easement manager.
“The Temple family used to have their Easter picnics at a waterfall in Longleaf Ridge. That was an important area for Temple-Inland when they were managing forests,” Bezanson said. “The Campbell Group acquired the property in 2007, and it continued those activities at Longleaf Ridge in terms of maintaining and restoring longleaf pine which Temple started.”
Longleaf Ridge is a large block of undeveloped forestland in a sparsely populated area. It’s located north of Jasper, Texas, connecting the Angelina and Sabine National Forests.
Longleaf pine stands are a vanishing landscape, according to Wendy Jo Ledbetter who manages the forest program for the Nature Conservancy in Texas. Longleaf Ridge has one of a few stands left in East Texas. But Ledbetter is working closely with a number of conservation groups that are trying to save the towering, impressive tree.
“We’re basically working across the board with private and public partners, and industrial and nonindustrial landowners. Of course, with Texas, about 97 percent of the lands are in private ownership, so that’s a great incentive to help landowners with that restoration work,” Ledbetter said.
Longleaf Ridge is a “working forest.” It will continue to be harvested for timber as part of the agreement.
Texas A&M Forest Service will monitor and enforce the conditions of the easement. Longleaf pine forests once stretched from Texas to Virginia covering some 90 million acres.