Coastal longleaf pine forests are being restored

By Tom Lollis

Bob FramklinAt one time, longleaf pine forests covered more than 90 million acres in the Southeast. But today, fewer than two million acres remain in scattered pockets because of fire suppression efforts that began in the 1920s.

The longleaf pine requires periodic burning to regenerate. Fire removes pine needles from the forest floor and thins the stand of trees, so that seeds can be in direct contact with the soil and receive enough sunlight to grow.

Clemson Extension forester Bob Franklin is helping South Carolina landowners and natural resource professionals restore these forests. Because of his publications, workshops and work with the Lowcountry Forest Conservation Partnership, at least 70,000 acres of longleaf pine have been planted in 12 counties along the state’s coast and coastal plains.

The trees are of different ages and heights, making them more resistant to hurricane damage and providing a variety of habitats for wildlife including the red-cockaded woodpecker, the gopher tortoise, quail, wild turkey, and fox squirrel.

Because of these and other conservation efforts, Franklin was honored with the 2005 Clemson Alumni Award for Distinguished Cooperative Extension Public Service.

For information: Bob Franklin, 843-549-2595,