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NC Zoo Working to Preserve Pine Forest

The non-profit LandTrust of Central North Carolina is teaming up with the North Carolina Zoo to preserve a unique tract of Longleaf Pine Forest. The 113-acre tract in Montgomery County is a rarity for this type of growth in the Piedmont. The land has been preserved by private owners for more than a century. Crystal Cockman is a conversation specialist with LandTrust.

Crystal Cockman: "Most people think of longleaf pine as more of a coastal plain or sandhills ecosystem, though here in the Piedmont, they grow in a little different soils. Longleaf pine are really unique ecosystems and they have a whole suite of species such as red-cockaded woodpecker, pine barrens treefrog, fox squirrel that are pretty much longleaf-only."
Zoo Deputy Director Mary Joan Pugh says this goes along with the zoo's mission of education, research, and conservation.

Mary Joan Pugh: "The zoo's mission is obviously to connect people with wildlife and we have a very significant horticulture collection. So it's just a natural for us, and we have expertise in conservation and forest management. Longleaf pine forests used to be prevalent in the Piedmont, and this is the last known large tract of old growth. These are 200-plus years old. I mean these are very old trees, that are left in private ownership."
Nothing has been finalized yet but the groups are well on their way to purchasing two-thirds of the tract. And they're currently working to raise funds to acquire the rest.

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