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Greenwood Plantation in the Red Hills region of southwest Georgia includes a rare one-thousand-acre stand of old-growth longleaf pine woodlands, a remnant of an ecosystem that once covered close to ninety million acres across the Southeast. The Art of Managing Longleaf documents the sometimes controversial management system that not only has protected Greenwood's “Big Woods” but also has been practiced on a substantial acreage of the remnant longleaf pine woodlands in the Red Hills and other parts of the Coastal Plain. Often described as an art informed by science, the Stoddard-Neel Approach combines frequent prescribed burning, highly selective logging, a commitment to a particular woodland aesthetic, intimate knowledge of the ecosystem and its processes, and other strategies to manage the longleaf pine ecosystem in a sustainable way. The namesakes of this method are Herbert Stoddard (who developed it) and his colleague and successor, Leon Neel (who has refined it). In addition to presenting a detailed, illustrated outline of the Stoddard-Neel Approach, the book—based on an extensive oral history project undertaken by Paul S. Sutter and Albert G. Way, with Neel as its major subject—discusses Neel's deep familial and cultural roots in the Red Hills; his years of work with Stoddard; and the formation and early years of the Tall Timbers Research Station, which Stoddard and Neel helped found in the pinelands near Tallahassee, Florida, in 1958. In their introduction, environmental historians Sutter and Way provide an overview of the longleaf ecosystem's natural and human history, and in his afterword, forest ecologist Jerry F. Franklin affirms the value of the Stoddard-Neel Approach.
The Red Hills region of south Georgia and north Florida contains one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in North America, with longleaf pine trees that are up to four hundred years old and an understory of unparalleled plant life. At first glance, the longleaf woodlands at plantations like Greenwood, outside Thomasville, Georgia, seem undisturbed by market economics and human activity, but Albert G. Way contends that this environment was socially produced and that its story adds nuance to the broader narrative of American conservation. The Red Hills woodlands were thought of primarily as a healthful refuge for northern industrialists in the early twentieth century. When notable wildlife biologist Herbert Stoddard arrived in 1924, he began to recognize the area's ecological value. Stoddard was with the federal government, but he drew on local knowledge to craft his land management practices, to the point where a distinctly southern, agrarian form of ecological conservation emerged. This set of practices was in many respects progressive, particularly in its approach to fire management and species diversity, and much of it remains in effect today. Using Stoddard as a window into this unique conservation landscape, Conserving Southern Longleaf positions the Red Hills as a valuable center for research into and understanding of wildlife biology, fire ecology, and the environmental appreciation of a region once dubbed simply the “pine barrens.”
Longleaf forests once covered 92 million acres from Texas to Maryland to Florida. These grand old-growth pines were the "alpha tree" of the largest forest ecosystem in North America and have come to define the southern forest. But logging, suppression of fire, destruction by landowners, and a complex web of other factors reduced those forests so that longleaf is now found only on 3 million acres. Fortunately, the stately tree is enjoying a resurgence of interest, and longleaf forests are once again spreading across the South. Blending a compelling narrative by writers Bill Finch, Rhett Johnson, and John C. Hall with Beth Maynor Young's breathtaking photography, Longleaf, Far as the Eye Can See invites readers to experience the astounding beauty and significance of the majestic longleaf ecosystem. The authors explore the interactions of longleaf with other species, the development of longleaf forests prior to human contact, and the influence of the longleaf on southern culture, as well as ongoing efforts to restore these forests. Part natural history, part conservation advocacy, and part cultural exploration, this book highlights the special nature of longleaf forests and proposes ways to conserve and expand them.
Ecological Restoration and Management of Longleaf Pine Forests is a timely synthesis of the current understanding of the natural dynamics and processes in longleaf pine ecosystems. This book beautifully illustrates how incorporation of basic ecosystem knowledge and an understanding of socioeconomic realities shed new light on established paradigms and their application for restoration and management. Unique for its holistic ecological focus, rather than a more traditional silvicultural approach, the book highlights the importance of multi-faceted actions that robustly integrate forest and wildlife conservation at landscape scales, and merge ecological with socioeconomic objectives for effective conservation of the longleaf pine ecosystem.
In its infancy, the movement to protect wilderness areas in the United States was motivated less by perceived threats from industrial and agricultural activities than by concern over the impacts of automobile owners seeking recreational opportunities in wild areas. Countless commercial and government purveyors vigorously promoted the mystique of travel to breathtakingly scenic places, and roads and highways were built to facilitate such travel. By the early 1930s, New Deal public works programs brought these trends to a startling crescendo. The dilemma faced by stewards of the nation's public lands was how to protect the wild qualities of those places while accommodating, and often encouraging, automobile-based tourism. By 1935, the founders of the Wilderness Society had become convinced of the impossibility of doing both. In Driven Wild, Paul Sutter traces the intellectual and cultural roots of the modern wilderness movement from about 1910 through the 1930s, with tightly drawn portraits of four Wilderness Society founders--Aldo Leopold, Robert Sterling Yard, Benton MacKaye, and Bob Marshall. Each man brought a different background and perspective to the advocacy for wilderness preservation, yet each was spurred by a fear of what growing numbers of automobiles, aggressive road building, and the meteoric increase in Americans turning to nature for their leisure would do to the country�s wild places. As Sutter discovered, the founders of the Wilderness Society were "driven wild"--pushed by a rapidly changing country to construct a new preservationist ideal. Sutter demonstrates that the birth of the movement to protect wilderness areas reflected a growing belief among an important group of conservationists that the modern forces of capitalism, industrialism, urbanism, and mass consumer culture were gradually eroding not just the ecology of North America, but crucial American values as well. For them, wilderness stood for something deeply sacred that was in danger of being lost, so that the movement to protect it was about saving not just wild nature, but ourselves as well.
Providence Canyon State Park, also known as Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon,” preserves a network of massive erosion gullies allegedly caused by poor farming practices during the nineteenth century. It is a park that protects the scenic results of an environmental disaster. While little known today, Providence Canyon enjoyed a modicum of fame in the 1930s. During that decade, local boosters attempted to have Providence Canyon protected as a national park, insisting that it was natural. At the same time, national and international soil experts and other environmental reformers used Providence Canyon as the apotheosis of human, and particularly southern, land abuse. Let Us Now Praise Famous Gullies uses the unlikely story of Providence Canyon—and the 1930s contest over its origins and meaning—to recount the larger history of dramatic human-induced soil erosion across the South and to highlight the role that the region and its erosive agricultural history played in the rise of soil science and soil conservation in America. More than that, though, the book is a meditation on the ways in which our persistent mental habit of separating nature from culture has stunted our ability to appreciate places like Providence Canyon and to understand the larger history of American conservation.
The Red Hills region is an idyllic setting filled with longleaf pine grasslands that stretches from Tallahassee, Florida, to Thomasville, Georgia. At its heart lies Tall Timbers, a former hunting plantation turned ecological research station. In 1919, sportsman Henry L. Beadel purchased a plantation and renamed it Tall Timbers. As was the tradition, Beadel burned the woods after every hunting season in order to keep them clear of the thick brush required by ground foraging birds like quail. After the U.S. Forest Service condemned the practice in the 1920s as harmful for the forest and its wildlife, the quail population diminished dramatically. Encouraged by his longtime friend Herbert L. Stoddard, who was conducting scientific bird research on his property, Beadel set his sights on conserving the land in order to study, among other things, the effects of fire on plants and wildlife. In 1958, Beadel, Stoddard, and others established Tall Timbers Research Station Inc. as a private, nonprofit corporation devoted to scientific purposes, and upon his death, Beadel donated his entire Tall Timbers estate to be used for ecological research in perpetuity. This history of Tall Timbers is complemented by a wealth of unique and unpublished photographs that are in the site's archival collections, including photographs from the late nineteenth century--many taken by Henry Beadel himself, who was both an accomplished and compulsive photographer. The book traces the transformation of the plantation into what its founders envisioned--a long-term plot study station, independent of government or academic control. It also reveals fascinating insights into the life of the wealthy landowner, Beadel, and his association with renowned naturalist Stoddard, which influenced his evolution from a sportsman to a naturalist and finally to a conservationist. The original text was written between 1973 and 1984 by Tall Timbers Beadel Fellow William R. Brueckheimer as an outcome of his research on the Red Hills quail plantations and their land-use practices. The manuscript, which ended chronologically with the founding of Tall Timbers Research Station, languished in the station's library for decades after completion. It passed through several hands until Robert Crawford was tasked with the assignment to edit, rewrite, and reorganize the original comprehensive, scholarly treatise and to bring the story up-to-date. The result is a cultural and environmental history of the Red Hills region in general and the plantation community specifically. The volume spans thousands of years of human interaction with the land, from Indian prehistory through European settlement, the Gilded Age, the twentieth century, and ending in the present.

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