Grant helps tribe to restore longleaf pines

Published 10:23 am Wednesday, February 7, 2018

On Feb. 1, landscapers planted 5,625 longleaf pine seedlings on 13 acres of tribal land at Cattashowrock Town, a replica of a 17th century native American Palisade village located just outside of Courtland.

According to Chief Walt “Red Hawk” Brown, the current leader of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, the planting of the seedlings came about as a result of a grant the tribe’s Heritage Foundation applied for and received last year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Contract landscapers dig holes for the longleaf seedlings. — Submitted | Walt “Red Hawk” Brown

Grant dollars were used to prepare the site for planting, which included putting a firebreak in place, and will also be used to reimburse the tribe for expenses incurred in hiring contractors to do the planting.

With the addition of the new seedlings, there are now 25,625 longleaf pines that have been planted at Cattashowrock Town, spread over 63 acres of the tribe’s 100-acre tract. Brown said the tribe’s first effort to repopulate the longleaf pine species occurred about five years ago when they arranged for 20,000 pines to be planted on 50 acres.

“Native longleaf pines are the trees indigenous to Virginia before early colonials cut them all down and reseeded with loblolly pine, which is a faster growing tree,” Brown said, explaining the tribe’s interest in longleaf pines. “Native Americans used the green and dried long needles from the longleaf pine trees to make baskets, bedding and for first aid.”

During the planting ceremony, Brown gave accolades to Yamecia Bennett, who represented the USDA, and Bobby Countz of the Nature Conservancy for the key rolls each organization played in bringing the project to fruition.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation also contributed by supplying the seedlings.

Scott Bachman, senior forester for the Department of Forestry’s Blackwater Work Area, which includes Isle of Wight County, Southampton County and the city of Suffolk, had previously remarked to The Tidewater News concerning longleaf pines that the trees were “the pine that built Tidewater” — having been used extensively in the days of wooden sailing ships for hull construction and to make pitch, tar and resins to seal the hulls.

The Department of Forestry, the DCR, the Nature Conservancy and other state agencies have been working for years to restore longleaf populations in the Western Tidewater area.

Brown said that in the near future, the tribe hopes to secure another grant to plant longleaf pines on another 155 acres of tribal land.