Shortleaf Pine Plantings from 1980s Can Guide Restoration

About forty years ago, 155 plots of shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) were planted in national forests across the USDA Forest Service Southern Region. The original purpose was progeny testing, but as decades passed, the study was largely abandoned. However, many of the stands remained and kept growing. In 2018, researchers evaluated 15 of the surviving…  More 

100 Years of Forest Service Research in the South

In 2021, the Southern Research Station and all of USDA Forest Service celebrates the centennial of Forest Service research in the South. On July 1, 1921, the Forest Service established two new experiment stations. They were modest operations. The Southern Forest Experiment Station, headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana, had only five employees. The Appalachian Forest…  More 

Santee Experimental Forest Research Forum

On April 1, 2021, scientists and experts from the South and across the globe gathered virtually to talk about research on the Santee Experimental Forest. Santee EF is one of 84 sites in the USDA Forest Service Experimental Forest & Range Network. It was founded in 1937, one year after the Francis Marion National Forest…  More 

Silviculture for Open Forests

Grassy oak savannas and sunny pine woodlands were once a common sight across the eastern U.S. These open forests have fewer large trees in the overstory and a bounty of native grasses and flowering plants in the understory. Frequent fire limited tree regrowth and created the open canopy. USDA Forest Service scientist Don Bragg and…  More 

How Do Weather, Insects, and Diseases Impact Forests? It Depends

Forests of the southern U.S. are among the most productive and intensively managed in the world. Disturbances naturally alter forest stands, sometimes creating conditions that benefit plant or animal communities, but can cause major economic losses to landowners. What’s more, the impacts from one disturbance may invite other disturbances – dead and damaged trees can…  More 

Top Ten of 2020

As 2020 comes to an end, it is a good time to gather our most-read CompassLive stories from the past year. Each one highlights the work of USDA Forest Service scientists at the Southern Research Station. We hope you enjoy reading this collection, which includes the most popular of 2020 plus a few more that…  More 

Timing Prescribed Fire to Maximize Longleaf Pine Growth

Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) needs fire to thrive. But if seedlings burn too late in the growing season, they may not have enough energy to re-grow their scorched leaves and replenish their starch reserves before spring of the next year. “When seedlings are so short that a prescribed fire is likely to scorch all of…  More 

Genetics of Shortleaf and Longleaf Pine in Seed Orchards

Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) and longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecosystems have been dwindling for decades. Restoration is a huge priority for the USDA Forest Service, the Longleaf Pine Alliance, the Shortleaf Pine Initiative, and many others. Restoration requires seed, and on National Forest System lands the seed comes from USDA Forest Service seed orchards. The…  More 

Silviculture to Restore Southern Fire-Adapted Pines

Native, mature southern pine ecosystems are dwindling on the landscape, and the plants and animals that depend upon them are in trouble as well. “Living and working in Arkansas, I sometimes forget that shortleaf pine as far as the eye can see is uncommon outside of this area,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Jim Guldin.…  More 

Deadwood in Longleaf Pine Forests

Longleaf pine forests are important ecosystems for a broad array of wildlife and understory plant species, such as the red-cockaded woodpecker, the southeastern fox squirrel, and the venus fly trap. Over time, the forests have dwindled due to replacement by other land uses and the suppression of fires with which they evolved. Now, they are…  More