The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture came to Charleston on Monday June 28 to hold a 'listening session' concerning Longleaf Pine Restoration. Secretary John Vilsack was introduced by Charleston Mayor Joe Riley at the Founder's Hall facility at Charles Towne Landing. Riley said, "This historic location where the colony was founded in 1670 is fitting as we meet to talk about longleaf pines which used to occur here and across the Southeast." Secretary Vilsack said, "At one point there was 90 million acres of longleaf pines and today there is more like 3.4 million acres. Hunters, anglers and multi-generational small private landowners are very important to the rural areas where longleaf restoration is most likely to occur." With most of the Southeast in private hands, it is certain that whatever happens will be with their support. A panel discussion ensued with speakers from the Longleaf Alliance, The Nature Conservancy and several others. In a separate press conference Secretary Vilsack said, "Forest lands are important to people in this region and I bring the President's message for conservation of our natural resources." The listening session ended with breakout groups to address what works on the ground, what are the challenges ahead, and what should the role of the federal government look like?
PhotosByJeffDennis: Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack; Clemson Extension Agent Bob Franklin from Colleton County and E.J. Williams of the Longleaf Alliance - Bob Franklin will be retiring very soon and LowcountryOutdoors looks forward to trying to keep up with him in retirement