150 long-leaf pines planted in Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – 150 long-leaf pines were planted in Virginia Beach on Thursday.

Virginia Natural Gas, Virginia Beach Department of Parks & Recreation and Virginia Department of Forestry joined the Nature Conservancy to plant 150 long-leaf pines in two of the city’s parks.

Officials say that the efforts to do this were out of wanting to restore a key piece of southeastern Virginia’s environmental and cultural heritage.

“We are committed to supporting initiatives that protect and preserve the environment,” said Jim Kibler, president of Virginia Natural Gas. “That’s why we are working with our partners to restore to its former prominence this important piece of our history. Our hope is that the long-leaf pine will grow and thrive here. With the help of our company and others, it will.”

The group planted the trees at Lake Lawson/Lake Smith Natural Area and Mt. Trashmore Park around Noon, and had a public ceremony to recognize the tree planting around 2 p.m.

The tree-planting project is part of the Conservancy’s ongoing efforts to restore the ecosystem that once flourished along southeastern Virginia and is regarded as the “pine that built Tidewater,” said officials with the event.

According to The Nature Conservancy, more than 90 million acres of long-leaf pines from south of the James River to the Florida Coast and west to Texas occupied the Southeastern U.S. landscape during pre-colonial times. About 1.5 million acres of stood in Virginia alone.

“The Nature Conservancy is committed to seeing long-leaf pine thrive once again in Virginia, and to restoring the unique ecosystem and rare species it supports,” said Bobby Clontz, land steward for The Nature Conservancy in Virginia. “The planting of these trees provides a great opportunity to educate visitors on the importance of this species, and shows how people can contribute to restoration efforts in the state. We’re thrilled to be a part of bringing such a wonderful piece of Virginia’s history, and hopefully it’s future, to Virginia Beach.”

Officials say that events like this one are just the begining, and that restoring the forest will take decades.