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Conservation Grants Aim to Improve Cumberland Shortleaf Pine Forest

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has awarded a series of grants for conservation projects throughout the Cumberland Plateau. Several collaborating organizations plan to use the funds to restore shortleaf pine and wetland forests and in-stream habitats in Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Partnering foundations matched the $1.3 million in grant funding provided by the Cumberland Plateau Stewardship Fund for a total of $2.6 million. The grants are intended to improve more than 9,700 acres of shortleaf pine and riparian forest, according to a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation press release.

Along with partners, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation and the Forest Stewards Guild, two of the grant-receiving organizations, plan to restore 5,400 acres of shortleaf pine forests using strategies such as thinning, strategic planting and prescribed burning. Phase two of the shortleaf pine restoration work is underway and is set to conclude in fall 2021.

Phase two involves restoration of publicly managed land, such as 2,000 acres within Grundy County’s Savage Gulf State Natural Area in Tennessee, and private land held mostly by families, according to Nick Biemiller, southeast regional coordinator for the Forest Stewards Guild.

“What we’re doing is connecting [landowners] with resources to better steward their forests for the long term,” says Biemiller.

Since 2013, the Cumberland Plateau Stewardship Fund has contributed to projects that will affect more than 81,500 acres of shortleaf pine and streamside forests, according to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. — By Jack Singletary

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