For more than a decade, Bill Owen has worked with The Nature Conservancy, state and federal agencies, and other partners to spearhead Virginia’s most expansive longleaf pine restoration. He now has 825 acres growing. 1,400 acres have been placed under conservation easement with the Conservancy and Bill will soon add another 450 acres - land devoted to creating future old-growth longleaf savannas.
Virginia’s historic million acres of longleaf pine forest were a small part of a habitat that once dominated the coastal South all the way to Texas. Longleaf was seen as an inexhaustible resource.
But turpentine tapping and logging virtually wiped out Virginia’s longleaf by 1850. Single-species tree farming and fire suppression followed exploitation, decimating longleaf across the South.
Longleaf habitat supports ecological diversity comparable to tropical rainforests. The endangered red-cockaded woodpecker co-evolved with longleaf and needs older-growth pine savanna to survive.
Bill Owen has planted more longleaf than any other landowner in Virginia. The Nature Conservancy and our partners assist with funding and management such as controlled burns.
In December 2013, Bill’s Raccoon Creek Pinelands in Sussex County hosted Virginia’s largest planting to date (525 acres).
Longleaf is more resistant than other Southern pines to fire, storm winds, disease and invasive pests such as pine beetles that are expected to worsen as our climate changes.
Bill will soon have nearly 2,000 acres under conservation easement with the Conservancy, with 825 acres already growing Virginia’s future longleaf forest. Return to longleaf story>>