HATTIESBURG -- Longleaf
pine once dominated the Piney Woods of Mississippi. This October,
some 400 landowners, foresters, biologists, and others interested
in longleaf pine will gather at the Hattiesburg Lake Terrace Convention
Center to discuss developments in longleaf pine management and research.
The Longleaf Alliance chose Hattiesburg as the
site of its fifth conference, to be hosted in part by The University
of Southern Mississippi, and local committees are putting the final
touches on the program, events, and field trip.
In Mississippi, there are 255,000 acres of longleaf
pine, most concentrated in the southeast part of the state. Perry,
Forrest, and Lamar counties contain almost half of the longleaf
pine acres in the state. Research has improved planting success,
and genetically improved longleaf seedlings are now available for
"There is a pre-conference on the De Soto
National Forest on Oct. 12, and the conference formally begins on
Oct. 13," says Dr. Dean Gjerstad, co-director of the Longleaf
Alliance and professor of forest ecology and biology at Auburn University.
"Speakers will address a variety of issues including historic,
economic, social, and ecological aspects of longleaf pine and the
longleaf pine ecosystem."
The highlight of the conference is a daylong
field trip on Thursday, Oct. 14. Participants will travel to the
De Soto National Forest and see several aspects of longleaf pine
management including prescribed burning, threatened and endangered
species management, plant diversity, invasive species, and other
topics. After lunch, participants will travel to nearby private
land where longleaf pine was recently planted. Topics there will
include successfully planting longleaf pine, different management
strategies, forest products from longleaf, pine straw production,
game management, and other topics.
According to Glenn Hughes, extension professor of
forestry at the Mississippi State University Extension Service,
private landowners are increasingly interested in longleaf pine
for a variety of reasons. Its tolerance of drought, fire, and most
insects and diseases reduces the risk from these potentially damaging
agents. Also, longleaf pine produces a greater percentage of high-value
poles than any other pine species. Because of the diversity of species
under longleaf, it also supports better habitat for many wildlife
"This conference is a real opportunity for Mississippi
landowners interested in longleaf pine," said Rhett Johnson,
co-director of the Longleaf Alliance. "The field day in particular
is a way for landowners to see, on the ground, just about every
aspect of longleaf pine management."
Private landowners can apply for a limited number
of scholarships that will pay their way to attend the Field Day
on Oct. 14. For more information on the scholarships, contact Glenn
Hughes at (601) 794-0671.
Registration for the Longleaf Alliance Conference
is handled through The University of Southern Mississippi Center
for International and Continuing Education. The center may be reached
by phone at (601) 266-4186. Registration material is available online