NWTF Regional Biologist Brandon Bobo is passionate about habitat projects restoring the ecosystems to their natural state. Improving forest health is a key component in achieving this goal. A healthy forest translates to better habitat, which benefits all species of wildlife. This is why the NWTF and its partners are pooling resources on the South Sandy Stewardship Project in Alabama.
According to Bobo, carefully planned and executed habitat projects like these are having a major impact across the Southeast.
“It’s this type of coordinated teamwork that allows us to gain significant ground from a wildlife and habitat management standpoint,” Bobo said. “For example, the work in the South Sandy area is a co-op project administered through our stewardship program with the USDA Forest Service. Our goal is to restore the native ecosystem within the Talladega National Forest Oakmulgee Ranger District.”
The South Sandy stewardship project was made possible through grants, match funding and working hand-in-hand with partners. A Longleaf Legacy grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation helped get the ball rolling.
According to Bobo, the NWTF and Forest Service have enhanced and conserved 874 acres of forest by thinning and burning on designated sites. In addition, the NWTF and its partners are working to reestablish stands of native long leaf pine.
“We thinned on 506 acres and established longleaf pine stands on 368 acres,” Bobo said. “Longleaf pine plays a crucial role in habitat management, because we can burn it the first year to generate much needed and beneficial early growth habitat. This helps many species of native wildlife, and it provides nesting and brood rearing habitat for wild turkeys. With the help of our partners and volunteers, we can make a difference where it really counts.”