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Released September 3, 2004

LONGLEAF ALLIANCE CONFERENCE SCHEDULED FOR HATTIESBURG

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 landowners.

"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 species.

"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 at: http://www.usm.edu/cice/ce/prodev/llc/index.html.

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September 9, 2004 11:40 AM