February 23, 2023

Conecuh National Forest Gains Critical Land

COVINGTON COUNTY, Ala. — One of Alabama’s most beautiful and ecologically diverse national forests has gained new protected land, announced the USDA Forest Service (USFS) and The Conservation Fund. With critical funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the partners were able to secure roughly 1,000 acres of privately-owned properties within the Conecuh National Forest in southern Alabama, filling in major land gaps for recreation, watershed preservation, wildlife and longleaf pine forest restoration.

“Conecuh National Forest is a unique, ecological backdrop that showcases recreation opportunities and how active forest management improves longleaf pine restoration, rare plant communities and wildlife habitat,” said Cherie Hamilton, Forest Service supervisor of Alabama’s national forests. “Thanks to The Conservation Fund, future generations will benefit greatly from this new land expansion on the Conecuh.”

Today’s announcement celebrates the protection of several properties — known as inholdings — that were previously gridlocked within Conecuh National Forest and faced the risk of being sold for non-conservation or recreational uses. The Conservation Fund, a national environmental nonprofit, acquired these properties and transferred them to the USFS for permanent conservation. Now protected, the land will enhance public recreation and preserve habitat for several terrestrial rare and endangered species including the red-cockaded woodpecker, eastern indigo snake and gopher tortoise. The acquisitions also help improve ongoing longleaf pine restoration taking place in the national forest.

“Conecuh National Forest protects one of the largest continuous stretches of longleaf pine forest in the Southeast,” said Stacy Funderburke, Alabama associate state director at The Conservation Fund. “Securing these inholdings will allow for better longleaf pine management and improve wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities that support local economies.”

The protection of this land was made possible by the federal LWCF, which was fully and permanently funded by the Great American Outdoors Act in 2020. LWCF is a bipartisan program that conserves ecologically and economically valuable land across the U.S., including many of Alabama’s iconic natural places. Alabama’s congressional delegation representing the Conecuh National Forest — U.S Senator Katie Britt, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville, U.S. Representative Jerry Carl and U.S. Representative Barry Moore — supported the use of LWCF funding for this project.

“The Conecuh National Forest contains some of the most pristine and ecologically invaluable land in the country, and I’m glad that its conservation mission is being strengthened through these acquisitions,” said U.S. Representative Barry Moore. “All Alabamians who love the outdoors will benefit from the protection and preservation of this beautiful natural space for future generations to treasure and enjoy.”

For many years, the late conservationist M.C. Davis had been acquiring these inholdings with the hope to one day conserve them as part of the national forest. Upon his passing in 2015, The Conservation Fund was able to make this dream a reality by acquiring the properties from Mr. Davis and holding them until LWCF funds became available for the USFS’s acquisition.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than 8.8 million acres of land, including roughly 36,000 acres in Alabama.

Media Contacts:
Val Keefer | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5802| vkeefer@conservationfund.org
Tammy Freeman Brown | USDA Forest Service | 334-241-8144 x144 | tammy.freemanbrown@usda.gov