The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and Louis Bacon’s Orton Foundation, an affiliate of The Moore Charitable Foundation, have announced a new partnership to restore and enhance the longleaf pine ecosystem in eastern North Carolina.

The Orton Foundation’s grant of $300,000 underscores the central role that North Carolina will play in order to successfully restore longleaf pine habitat across the Southeast. The partnership will include using prescribed burning to improve forest health.

The ecosystem once covered much of the South-east, but about 97 percent has been lost over time. Longleaf forests support several endangered species, including the red-cockaded woodpecker.

Orton’s grant will support projects through the Longleaf Stewardship Fund, a public-private partnership managed by NFWF that provides strategic grants to expand, enhance and accelerate longleaf pine ecosystem restoration across its historic range. These funds will be combined with additional funding from NFWF and its partners through the 2017 Longleaf Stewardship Fund grant cycle for work in eastern North Carolina.

Priorities will include planting longleaf pine in areas chosen for restoration through science-based planning and enhancing existing longleaf forest habitat with prescribed burning. Other activities will include thinning and invasive species removal. Best-management practices will benefit longleaf pine-associated wildlife. Public outreach and education efforts will highlight the importance of prescribed burning for restoring and maintaining healthy longleaf pine ecosystems.

The grants are not intended for businesses or individual tree farmers. Applicants should be non-profits, local and state governments, Indian tribes or educational institutions.

“We applaud NFWF in their efforts to restore the iconic and critically threatened longleaf pine,” said Bacon, founder and chairman of The Moore Charitable Foundation. “We are confident that this partnership will revitalize longleaf habitat and the wildlife that rely upon it.”

“We are excited to partner with The Orton Foundation to advance longleaf pine ecosystem restoration in eastern North Carolina,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “Their commitment will help accelerate longleaf pine restoration through plantings and the application of prescribed ire, which will beneit a wide array of wildlife and plants, including rare species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker, Carolina gopher frog and Venus flytrap.”

For more information about the Longleaf Stewardship Fund, visit

Originally published in the State Port Pilot e-pilot, May 17, 2017.