Executive Summary

Shortleaf Pine Restoration Plan Executive Summary
Executive Summary

Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) has the largest geographic extent of the southern yellow pines, occurring in 22 states in the United States. Extensive logging, subsistence farming, the loss of open range grazing of livestock, and a lack of appropriate disturbance for subsequent regeneration have contributed to a 53% decline in its range since 1980. Commercially, shortleaf pine was a valued timber commodity. During the Revolutionary War and the early 1800’s, shortleaf pine was a major timber source in the eastern part of its range for a myriad of products including shipbuilding and homes. In the western portion of its range, shortleaf pine dominated the forest industry during the mid to late 1800’s and early 1900’s until the Great Depression; it was so highly valued, loblolly pine timber was marketed as shortleaf.

There are two distinct and dominant shortleaf pine forest types defined by FIA: Shortleaf pine (often mixed with longleaf and loblolly pines, Pinus palustris and Pinus taeda), and Shortleaf pine–Oak (mixed with several species of oak including Quercus stellata, Quercus alba, Quercus velutina, and Quercus falcata). These two types would have existed along a continuum of fire disturbance, where frequent fire would have produced open shortleaf pine woodlands, and less frequent fire would have maintained shortleaf pine in oak woodlands. Shortleaf pine is a fire-adapted species, as evidenced by its capacity for re-sprouting when top-killed, survivability, and positive regeneration and seedling vigor responses post-fire. Historically, frequent fires would have maintained shortleaf pine in mixture with other southern pines which do not sprout, or do so much less reliably. Reductions in fire regimes through the 20th century, both in intensity and frequency, have contributed to drastic shifts in forest communities away from shortleaf pine to more fire-intolerant species.

Additional factors contributing to shortleaf pine decline include: loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) range expansion,

commercialization, and hybridization; southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) outbreaks; and littleleaf disease (Phytophthora cinnamomi), especially in the Atlantic Piedmont.

Many wildlife species use forested ecosystems that include shortleaf pine components. Shortleaf pine seeds are an important food source for small mammals and birds, especially northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus), and shortleaf pine trees are used as roosting and nesting habitat for woodpeckers and roosting habitat for bats. Shortleaf pine-dominated woodlands occurred as a result of frequent disturbance, which is conducive to species adapted to early successional habitats.

In 2013, the Shortleaf Pine Initiative (SPI) was formed to identify the threats facing shortleaf pine ecosystems and the strategies and partnerships that could address these threats. An Advisory Committee for SPI was formed and is comprised of representatives from natural resources agencies and organizations with a shared goal of maintaining, improving, or restoring these systems (see page iv for definitions of these terms). The vision of SPI is to create a highly motivated partnership that inspires the conservation of shortleaf pine and associated ecosystems range-wide with the full spectrum of socio-economic values and ecological viability. The SPI held four workshops during 2013-2014 to determine the status of, as well as threats and barriers to shortleaf pine management. The eight key components of the Shortleaf Pine Restoration Plan as identified through the workshops were: Partnerships; Public Lands; Private Lands; Economic Sustainability; Ecological Sustainability; Public Relations Communication, Outreach; Evaluation of Plan Actions; and Implementation of the Plan. This plan details range-wide shortleaf pine restoration goals, objectives, and key actions to achieving objectives.

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