The US Fish and Wildlife Service has engaged conservation partners to assist in assessing current conditions and needs to retain and restore one of the South's rarest pine ecosystems. The “wet-piedmont longleaf pine forest” is characterized by the presence of longleaf, loblolly, and pond pines in association with facultative-wetland species. This longleaf forest type is assigned the rarest ranking by NatureServe and the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program (G1S1). A remnant of that ecosystem type exists on the Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge in Wadesboro, North Carolina, where overstory species include longleaf and pond pine in association with the commonly represented loblolly pine. In addition, shortleaf pine and a variety of hardwood species are present. Initial restoration actions have focused on (1) reducing the understory presence of sweetgum; (2) introducing variable density retention of loblolly pine within a mixture of longleaf, pond, and shortleaf pines; and (3) application of prescribed fire. Stem-mapping of longleaf, pond, and shortleaf pine was accomplished over a 61-ha stand to evaluate natural-regeneration potential and assist in defining and advancing ecosystem restoration.
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Vol. 37 • No. 4