MONTGOMERY, GRIMES, POLK, TRINITY, SAN JACINTO, AND WALKER COUNTIES ARE INCLUDED
TEMPLE, Texas — Longleaf pine forests once covered much of East Texas — and they could again thanks to a federal program offering money to landowners who grow the trees on their property.
The Natural Resource Conservation Service will pay East Texas landowners who either implement conservation practices designed to maintain and improve existing longleaf pine ecosystems or plant new stands.
About $352,000 has been allotted for landowners through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, which can pay for up to 75 percent of the cost for practices such as site preparation, prescribed burning and herbicide treatment.
“Historically longleaf pine forests were found all across the southern United States and Southeast Texas, and these forests provided some of the most diverse ecological settings where wildlife thrived,” Texas Forest Service Farm Bill Coordinator Shane Harrington said, explaining that many threatened and endangered species call the forests home. “But over time, these forests have slowly been replaced by other species that are better-suited for the quick growth needed to meet the demands of society.”
Individual landowners can receive up to $50,000 per year. Priority will go to landowners in Anderson, Angelina, Cherokee, Hardin, Houston, Jasper, Liberty, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity, Tyler and Walker counties. However, landowners in other counties can obtain funding if they can demonstrate that longleaf pine will successfully grow there.
“This is a great opportunity for landowners who are interested in establishing longleaf pine on their property to minimize the costs associated with that process” Harrington said.