"This is really improving the native wildlife habitat and will provide better wildlife populations for the future. The project is also providing local jobs for people like me and the logging crews necessary to remove the timber.” Will Breland
Will Breland has lived his entire life with Mississippi National Forest in his backyard.
“It has been my family’s playground for several generations. We hunt, hike, fish, and just enjoy the scenery here.”
Breland also makes his living in the forest as a timber buyer for Hood Industries. The company owns and operates a sawmill and two plywood plants in the Wiggins area, and employs about 700 people at just these three mills.
The company recently purchased two U.S. Forest Service timber sales that are part of the Longleaf Pine Ecosystem Restoration and Hazardous Fuels Reduction High Priority Restoration Project (HPRP), and according to Breland, “It was a big deal for the Forest Service to sell timber to our company because they are the biggest land owner in the area.”
The Longleaf Pine Ecosystem Restoration and Hazardous Fuels Reduction project is one of the High Priority Restoration projects funded outside of the CFLRP. The longleaf pine ecosystem of De Soto National Forest is home to a broad variety of threatened and endangered species, including gopher tortoise and red-cockaded woodpecker, in addition to popular game species such as white-tailed deer and bobwhite quail.
Through longleaf pine re-establishment and thinning treatments, the 374,000-acre CFLR project is improving wildlife habitat and making De Soto forests more resilient to wildfire, drought, insects, pollutants, and climate change.
Breland says the HPRP project has brought additional benefits to the local community.
“We are removing off-site species that were planted here years ago and thinning the longleaf pine stands. This is really improving the native wildlife habitat and will provide better wildlife populations for the future. The project is also providing local jobs for people like me and the logging crews necessary to remove the timber.”
“The HPRP project is helping us to manage our forests for both current and future recreation and business,” adds Breland. “I am glad to see some good forest management practices implemented on our National Forest here at home, and my hope for the future of Mississippi’s forests is sustainability. Ideally, we will be able to cut, manage, and move forward. Even though I work in timber sales, I enjoy spending time in the forests and don’t want to see them clear cut.”