The Blackwater River State Forest has increased in size and biodiversity over the last two years with the help of an ongoing Longleaf Reforestation Project conducted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Florida Forest Service.


 NNThe Blackwater River State Forest has increased in size and biodiversity over the last two years with the help of an ongoing Longleaf Reforestation Project conducted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Florida Forest Service.



Longleaf pines the native backbone of the Southern forest are rebounding after the project restored nearly 2,400 acres in the forest's ecosystem in Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties.



Florida Forest Service conducted the project from 2011 to 2013. This work was made possible by a $300,000 grant from the Longleaf Stewardship Fund a partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Gulf Power Company through Southern Company.



The objective of the Blackwater State Forest Project focused on Blackwater State Forest, Eglin Air Force Base and Conecuh National Forest. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Florida Forest Service worked to restore longleaf pine ecosystems in areas that had been planted previously with sand and slash pine and used for industrial fiber production. By reforesting with longleaf pine, the restoration process will return the forest to its natural state as a dominantly native longleaf pine ecosystem.



The Blackwater State Forest project is just part of a massive restoration effort with more partnerships in the Longleaf Stewardship Fund. In 2012, Southern Company and NFWF announced $2.88 million for 16 grants to restore longleaf pine forests in the Florida Panhandle and six other southeastern states, including Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Louisiana.



The Longleaf Stewardship Fund expands on the progress made with the Longleaf Legacy program and extends stewardship efforts throughout the Southeast.



For the past 10 years, Longleaf Legacy-funded projects in Florida have helped restore more than 17,700 acres of longleaf forests, planting close to 10.2 million seedlings, and enhancing more than 122,000 acres of critical habitat in Northwest Florida in areas such as Blackwater River State Forest, Apalachicola National Forest, Eglin Air Force Base and on private and public lands.