Woodland - Summer 2020 - 27

IMAGE COURTESY OF REESE THOMPSON.

But the landowners involved in ALRI's restoration
efforts are convinced the rewards of longleaf far
outweigh the additional time and effort it requires.
Reese Thompson, a sixth-generation tree farmer
in Georgia, is part of ALRI's Fort Stewart/Altamaha
Longleaf Pine Restoration Partnership. He has always
had longleaf on his farm; one longleaf on his property is
at least 250 years old. But Reese hadn't really thought
about the longleaf ecosystem until he took a walk one
day with a biologist friend who identified 29 different
species of plants within a one-square-yard area in a
longleaf forest ground cover.
"It dawned on me that I had spent 50 years walking
over this, and I didn't realize what was under my feet,"
said Thompson
The biodiversity of the longleaf forests rivals that
of the ground floor of tropical rain forests. "There are
some 900 species of plants, probably more than
any other ecosystem in the country," he added. This
creates a rich environment for many different species
of birds, mammals and insects.
The key to managing longleaf is controlled burning
(also known as prescribed burning). Before European
settlers arrived, lightning from the area's frequent
lightning storms would spark fires that burned the
understory. Unlike other pines, the longleaf survived
because of its very thick bark. But after settlers moved
in, the fires were suppressed.
Controlled burning replicates the effects of natural
fires, sparing the longleaf but removing bushes,
shrubs and small trees that shade the ground and
prevent young longleaf from getting sufficient sun to
grow. The burnings also encourage the growth of new,
more diverse native groundcover.
Thompson realized that the concept of prescribed
burning can be difficult to understand for generations
that grew up on warnings about forest fires from
Smokey Bear. (Today Smokey cautions about wildfires,
not forest fires.) So, three years ago, he created Burner
Bob, a large, friendly, mascot-like bobwhite quail that
educates children and adults about how controlled fire
benefits the longleaf ecosystem.
Thompson, who serves on the Longleaf
Alliance Board, licensed the use of Burner Bob to
the organization for $1. Burner Bob, sometimes
portrayed by Thompson, has appeared at numerous
conferences, meetings and controlled burning fire
festivals from Virginia to Florida to Louisiana. Burner
Bob has his own Facebook page with 700 followers,
and Thompson and an artist friend even created a
coloring book featuring the character for kids to take
home.
"All the children love to come up and hug Burner
Bob; he is spreading the message about prescribed
fires creating good habitats for sensitive species and
reducing the risk of wildfires," Thompson said.

Reese Thompson is a sixth-generation tree farmer from Georgia who created
Burner Bob, a mascot-like bobwhite quail figure, that teaches children and
adults about the benefits of prescribed burning.
IMAGE COURTESY OF REESE THOMPSON.

Strength and Durability
Salem and Dianne Saloom started buying land in
Evergreen, Alabama, in the early 1980s and now own
2,200 acres. The property was originally planted in
loblolly, but those pines fell in large numbers when
Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004. After the storm, the price of
timber plummeted by 50%.
The Salooms noticed that the old longleaf pines along
the boundaries of their property had survived the storm.
That's because longleaf, in the earliest stages of growth
(grass stage), sends its roots as deep as eight feet,
enabling it to better withstand high winds and drought.
The couple decided to grow longleaf and have planted
more than 1,000 acres of it since 2004. "Losing so much,
we recognized part of the problem was that what we were
growing was not native," Dianne Saloom said. "We had an
opportunity that we didn't want to pass up to continue to
manage and improve the property."
Longleaf seedlings are twice as expensive as other
pines and require hand planting early in the winter to get
roots established. Although bareroot longleaf have a very
low survival rate, the introduction of containerized seedlings
several years ago has boosted the yield considerably.

Summer 2020 * WOODLAND 27



Woodland - Summer 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Woodland - Summer 2020

Overstory
Forests and Families
Forest Interactions
Forestry Amid a Pandemic
National Treasure: The Return of Longleaf
White Oak in the Buckeye State
Tools and Resources
Amazon Makes Major Investment in Family Forests
Woodland - Summer 2020 - Intro
Woodland - Summer 2020 - cover1
Woodland - Summer 2020 - cover2
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 3
Woodland - Summer 2020 - Overstory
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 5
Woodland - Summer 2020 - Forests and Families
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 7
Woodland - Summer 2020 - Forest Interactions
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 9
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 10
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 11
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 12
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 13
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 14
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 15
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 16
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 17
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 18
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 19
Woodland - Summer 2020 - Forestry Amid a Pandemic
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 21
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 22
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 23
Woodland - Summer 2020 - National Treasure: The Return of Longleaf
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 25
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 26
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 27
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 28
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 29
Woodland - Summer 2020 - White Oak in the Buckeye State
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 31
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 32
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 33
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 34
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 35
Woodland - Summer 2020 - Tools and Resources
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 37
Woodland - Summer 2020 - Amazon Makes Major Investment in Family Forests
Woodland - Summer 2020 - cover3
Woodland - Summer 2020 - cover4
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