Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge
Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge.
Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr
In 2012, we helped the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expand the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge by nearly 270 acres. Surrounded by refuge lands on three sides, the newly protected tract is significant as a demonstration site for longleaf pine ecosystem restoration. It also provides habitat for many of the same species found on the refuge, including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, bob-white quail, Eastern fox squirrel and forest-dwelling migratory birds.
The Fund purchased the property from Timberland Investment Resources, LLC, a timber investment management organization, and held it until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could gather funding to acquire it.
Longleaf Pine Restoration At Sandhills
The Carolina Sandhills NWR is one of only two refuges in the Southeast Region designated as a demonstration refuge for longleaf pine restoration and management. The newly-acquired parcel is currently forested in loblolly pine, an off-site pine species for the Sandhills region. The service will work with conservation partners to restore the site to longleaf pine. Restoring these lands to native longleaf habitat and associated groundcover will provide a unique opportunity to demonstrate the restoration process to private landowners.
Longleaf pine, with its extensive tap root and ability to tolerate frequent fires, is the naturally occurring dominant species on the deep, sandy soils characteristic of the Sandhills. The refuge, which includes 46,000 acres of longleaf forest, contains one of the largest remaining tracts of longleaf pine in its range. At one time, there was more than 92 million acres of longleaf pine from southern Virginia south to Florida and west to eastern Texas. Today, longleaf pine occurs on approximately three million acres, less than three percent of its former range.
“What makes this acquisition even more exciting is that not only are we adding lands to the conservation landscape, but we will involve more partners and surrounding landowners in its restoration and management,” said Jason Johnson, South Carolina Director of the Fund.