Trip Reports from Longleaf Pine Country

A little bit of history...

It's probably fair to say that most Americans don't have a good understanding of what a "natural" forest looks like. In part because so few people are ever out in any forest and in greater part because so little natural forest (old or new growth) remains in the lower 48 states. Many things have contributed to the demise of the forests from conversion to agricultural or commercial forestry use, to urban sprawl, mismanagement and overzealous fire suppression.

Before European settlement, the primary forest ecosystem of the southeast including the southeastern and Gulf coastal plain was the longleaf pine forest. Native Americans lived in and learned to appreciate the richness of the forest. They adapted to the forest and used it carefully. European settlers learned to exploit it for commercial and agricultural purposes.

The forest extended in a roughly 150 mile wide swath along the coast and inland, from southern Virginia into central Florida and on to east Texas. The longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) is adapted to grow in a wide variety of soil and topographic conditions in the coastal plain, the piedmont, and into the Appalachian foothills. What once was a vast ecosystem has been reduced to a patchwork of public and private lands that serve as the starting point for a longleaf pine forest restoration and conservation program that is now underway.

The extent and "fabric" of this ecosystem is hard to imagine. There is no one alive who experienced it and the remnants that we call "old growth"  longleaf pine are not really representative of what existed before Europeans came to the area.

As this web site is developed, we will add more information about the history and the future of longleaf pine. Please stop in again and enjoy the brief glimpse of longleaf pine country in the trip report below.

March 2007 Trip to Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. This was a multi-purpose  scouting trip. The goal was to identify possible locations for a field trip to be offered at the North American Nature Photography Association Summit (conference) in 2008 and to document early spring forest conditions and dormant season fire management methods. I met my friend and fellow photographer Beth Young and we started our scouting trip at the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center of Auburn University.

March 2007 Trip Slide Show




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