Experimental forest to celebrate 60 years

Published 2:05 pm Monday, May 11, 2009

By Staff
Special to the Standard
The U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station today announced the May 12 Forestry Field Day where they will join research partners to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Escambia Experimental Forest and the Farm 40 study.
SRS employees and partners will gather at the experimental forest on Tuesday to honor its contributions to science and forestry.
The Escambia was established in 1947 on private land leased from the Cedar Creek Land and Timber Company, formerly T.R. Miller Mill Company. The 3,000-acre tract near Brewton has served as a demonstration site for longleaf pine management for the small-scale private landowner.
At the time, about half of the forest land in the South was in small private land ownerships. Longleaf pine forests that previously dominated an estimated 92 million acres across the South had been reduced to about 6.2 million acres of second-growth trees by the mid-20th century. Interested in finding ways to restore longleaf pine across the South, the Forest Service started natural regeneration research on the Escambia.
Among the Field Day highlights will be a tour of the Farm 40 study, established on the Escambia in 1947. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate longleaf pine forest management for the small-scale private forest landowner, with the initial management goal of producing high-quality poles and logs on a 60-year rotation. The annual field day showcased all the products — poles, sawtimber, turpentine and gum included — that could be harvested from a 40-acre woodlot in one year.
The Forestry Field Day will continue the tradition as an educational tour about longleaf pine management for the private land owner, focusing on the history of the Escambia and the research findings from the forest that have informed today’s longleaf pine ecosystem management.
Tours will be combined with talks by Forest Service scientists, university researchers, and industry specialists on: Farm 40 and research history, prescribed fire, forestry management options, longleaf pine products, artificial regeneration, longleaf seed and cone crops, agroforestry, and ecosystem service payments. 
Sponsors include Alabama Forests Forever, the American Forest Foundation, Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Longleaf Pine Stand Dynamics Laboratory, and the Longleaf Alliance Inc.
The Escambia Experimental Forest is one of 19 experimental forests across the South that SRS manages. A 13-minute video, posted online at http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/news/377, describes the history of research on the Escambia.

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