MONTGOMERY COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — “I would like to welcome everybody out here,’”’ says Crystal Cockman to a few dozen hearty folks willing to come to meet her early on a cool, Monday morning.
“Thank you all so much for coming this is our Cotton Creek Preserve, here close to Biscoe and Montgomery County. My name is Crystal Cockman. I’m the associate director of Three Rivers Land Trust,” she continues as she gets them ready to plant 2,000 longleaf pine seedlings.
“There’s not a lot of old growth long leaf left,” says Crystal who has worked with the Three Rivers Land Trust since she was a Duke University student, nearly 20 years ago. “(The longleaf) represents a lot of what’s so significant about our state.”
For years, it was a staple of the large turpentine industry that was used, among other things, to waterproof (or as close as they could get to it) ships that went to sea. But as that industry began to wane, the longleaf began to suffer, largely because we stopped nature from taking its course with our fire management.
“Fire is a natural process, and that is shaped and molded so many of our plant communities,” says Katie Stovall, who also works for The Land Trust. “And when you sit down and you really look at if you go through the list of North Carolinas threatened and endangered species, whether that’s plants or animals or whatever it may be, most of those rely on some shape or form on fire.”
“There are so many species that rely upon longleaf forests like fox squirrels and red-cockaded woodpeckers,” says Crystal, backing up what her colleague, Katie said.
“And I think folks are starting to understand the eco-benefits of longleaf: The clean water, the carbon, the pollinators,” adds Lynnsey Basala who is also out helping plant the seedlings. Basala works for The Longleaf Alliance and for her, it’s about passing something down to the next generation.
“I’m planting these trees not for myself and for my kids, but for their kids and if we don’t have enough people who think like that, then what have we become?” says Lynnsey.
Appalachian Mountain Brewery paid for the seedlings but also put their time where their rhetoric is by showing up to do the planting, as well.
“We bring our brewers and our marketing team and anybody else who wants to come out, we pay for a day of volunteer action every year to come plant some trees,” says Chris Zieber who is one of the co-founders of Appalachian Mountain Brewery. He was an environmental science major at UNC but always enjoyed a good beer, once he came of age in college.
“And when we started making beers, Longleaf IPA was one of the first ones we came and opened with back in 2013 so, ‘Here’s the land of the longleaf pine,’ it’s in the state toast, it’s on a lot of our merchandise, on our can for the Long Leaf IPA and when we started branching out a little bit further, we saw a lot of the conservation works that the Long Leaf Alliance has been doing further east in the Raleigh area. We’re more in the western reaches of the Long Leaf Alliance or the Long Leaf territory but we wanted to work with them as one of our corporate non-profit partnerships.”
See the plantings and a 100-year-old example of how the Long Leaf was used in the turpentine industry in this edition of The Buckley Report.