The longleaf pine trees around home have always fascinated me. Indeed they are the high rises of the southeast coastal plain. Huge majestic flat topped pines festooned with spanish moss dot the landscape of my family homestead in Florida. Unfortunately they don't dominate the landscape as they once did prior to the European expansion. For all practical purposes the longleaf pine has been eradicated from its former range with estimates of only about 3% remaining. I was lucky to have a decent amount of "second growth" longleaf still remaining in my little hidden corner of Florida. These were the trees either two small or crooked for the timber industry back at the end of the 19th century. I am grateful a few remained.
For the past 20 years or so I have been working to restore longleaf habitat on the homestead. This month I planted the final 1,000-1,250 longleaf seedlings bringing to a close that part of the restoration project. In total I have planted around 20,000 trees on the homestead. With this work and prescribed fire, herbicide, timber thinning, planting of wiregrass, etc much progress has been made. I have bobwhite quail coveys, red headed woodpeckers and even a Florida fox squirrel or two. The holy grail- the indigo snake... has yet to be sited but I am hopeful that will happen someday. The last indigo snake I saw on the property was when I was around 7 years old... my dad always pointed out the "good" snakes... the gopher snake as he called them, due to their need to seek winter refuge deep in gopher tortoise burrows.
I am giving thanks in advance for once again hosting an indigo snake on the land. In the meantime check out this vlog documenting the final 1,000 longleaf trees planted.