TNC in Alabama recently announced that it will now lead forestry management services for both Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge (CRNWR) and Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge (MLNWR). The agreement was made possible by a $500,000 grant of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funding through a public-private partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), land manager of both refuges.
The primary goal of the partnership is to reduce hazardous fuels—or overgrown vegetation present due to a lack of controlled fire over the years and conversion to pine plantations on the landscape—while also restoring longleaf pine forests that were historically the dominant vegetation type. Ultimately, regular prescribed burns and other controlled methods will help restore the forests to their natural condition.
“TNC is a longstanding partner providing forestry services throughout the Southeast and boasts a proven track record in longleaf pine and fire management,” said FWS Cahaba River, Mountain Longleaf and Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge Manager Steven Trull. “Their services will provide significant hazardous fuel reduction and enhancements to approximately 3,000 acres at CRNWR and approximately 2,000 acres at MLNWR.”
Through this forestry management agreement, TNC in Alabama will conduct and contract forestry management services—including ecologically necessary removal of overstocked pine and hardwood, inventorying and controlling invasive species, and conducting prescribed burns, including fire line maintenance or installation. As part of this work, TNC will hire a new forestry professional, as well as support the local workforce, aiding both conservation efforts and support of local economies.
“This announcement illustrates not only how TNC is leaning in to leverage available funding to enhance land resilience, but also how we are helping to create jobs and enhance Alabama’s economy through sustainable forestry,” said TNC in Alabama State Director Mitch Reid. “We value FWS’s partnership and their level of trust in the services and benefits we provide.”
"Though this announcement signals a holistic and formal signed agreement, we are already providing on-the-ground results by leading prescribed burns this spring on more than 2,000 acres at the CRNWR,” said TNC in Alabama On-the-Ground Lead and Director of Forest Management Thomas Reddick. “We will continue to demonstrate the value of this partnership by working with the FWS to accelerate restoration of longleaf on public and private lands and increase protection of diverse, functional forests.”
The Nature Conservancy in Alabama has hired and trained fire crews since 2004 and performs prescribed burns on nearly 60,000 acres in the state each year. For more information on The Nature Conservancy in Alabama or to learn how to support its projects, please visit here.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.