U.S. Congressman Bruce Westerman hosted United States Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen on Thursday, Sept. 4, at the Shortleaf Pine and Bluestem Grass Restoration Project in Scott County.
Westerman and Christiansen met with area U.S. Forest Service officials and rangers for the Buffalo Road Tour showcasing the porject. The tour of the Pine-Bluestem area begins near the Needmore Community, just seven miles south of Waldron and west of U.S. Highway 71.
During the tour, Westerman and Christiansen were able to explore the interpretive stops where the U.S. Forest Service has been utilizing ecosystem strategies to maintain forest communities, with a ground cover of grassed and forbs for wildlife. They were also able to see how thinning trees, prescribing burns, and woody stem, mid-story reduction provides a unique habitat for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and other wildlife and plants.
The forest habitat also meets human needs including clean water, wood products, hunting activities, and other forms of recreation.
The U.S. Forest Service has been restoring the Shortleaf Pine-Bluestem grass ecosystem on more than 200,000 acres of the Ouachita National Forest in Western Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma for more than 40 years.
“Chief Christiansen has done such important work promoting scientific forest management, and I really enjoyed showing her around the Natural State. Arkansas land managers – both private and public – are leaders nationally and internationally in implementing best practices for other areas to replicate. Healthy and resilient forests, like we have in much of Arkansas, promote improved wildlife habitats, better water and air quality and stronger rural economies. Chief Christiansen brings years of knowledge and practical experience to the table to make our forests healthy and resilient. I always learn so much from our conversations, and I hope we can continue working together on forestry issues, to apply lessons learned onto a national scale.”
Westerman also toured Albert Pike Recreational area and Avant Mining.
(Information contained within this story was supplied by the USDA Forest Service - Poteau Ranger District Office in Waldron)