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Potlatch, natural heritage, conservancy announce forest conservation easement.

POTLATCH CORP. SIGNED A forest management plan on Aug. 8 with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and The Nature Conservancy. The plan will protect an additional 330 acres of Potlatch land within the 4,000-acre Warren Prairie Conservation Area.

Located in Bradley and Drew counties, the WPCA supports the highest quality remaining examples of saline barrens and prairies in Arkansas. The area also contains a variety of plant communities, including post oak flatwoods, pine savannahs, Carolina ash sloughs, and riparian and bottomland hardwood forests.

These plant communities support 23 rare species of plants and animals, including Geocarpon minimum, which is listed as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act, as well as three other plants found nowhere else in Arkansas. The agreement also will aid recovery efforts of the federally endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker.

"This is a precedent-setting recognition by ANHC that commercial timberlands, under some t0rrns of management, can be included within the system of state natural areas," Tom Foil, chief ecologist for Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, said. Terms of the conservation easement agreement preclude. development of the land, which will continue to be owned and managed by Potlatch. Potlatch will work with both The Nature Conservancy and the Commission to assure that management of the area maintains the land's unique environmental features.

"This agreement protects a unique Arkansas' ecosystem in our state," Gov. Mike Huckabee said. "It allows critical forest management activities to continue."

The acquisition of this easement has far-reaching impacts for conservation in Arkansas because it will serve as the Commission's match for a $300,000 grant through the Recovery Land Acquisition program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlifed Service. Arkansas is one of only three states in the Southeastern U.S. to receive funding through the program. The Recovery Land Acquisition grants program provides funds to states to acquire land containing habitat that will resist in the recovery of federally endangered and threatened species.

"The easement expands the Warren Prairie Conservation Area while continuing to provide jobs for working families in Southeast Arkansas," Congressman Mike Ross said. "1 am glad that Potlatch is contributing to the future preservation of our state's natural heritage."

State Rep. Joyce Dees agrees. "I am pleased that Potlatch is working with the State Heritage Commission and will continue to assist with the management of the Warren Prairie ecosystem," she ,said.

Potlatch Regional Resource Manager Jim Newberry noted that the company has long maintained a working interest in the Warren Prairie Conservation Area, which the easement will allow the company to continue while generating additional revenue for the company's stockholders. The company previously sold portions of its land in the conservation area to the Conservancy and the Commission in 1983 and 1989.

Newberry added that the agreement supports Potlatch's commitment to protection of special areas and ecosystem biodiversity through innovative working relationships with responsible conservation organizations. Potlatch's Arkansas forest practices were recently certified by independent third-party audits as being in compliance with both the International Organization for Standardization 14001 Environmental Management Standard and the 2002-2004 Sustainable Forestry Initiative requirements.

Potlatch Corp., headquartered in Spokane, Wash., is a diversified forest products company with timberlands in Arkansas, Idaho, and Minnesota. In addition to its 485,000 acres in Arkansas, Potlatch employs 900 Arkansans and has manufacturing facilities in McGehee, Prescott, and Warren.

The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission is the agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage responsible for the creation and management of a system of natural areas, which serve to protect rare species and natural communities across Arkansas. Other agencies in the department are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, and the Historic Arkansas Museum.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, nonprofit organization that preserves plants, animals, and natural communities representing the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.
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Title Annotation:Arkansas
Comment:Potlatch, natural heritage, conservancy announce forest conservation easement.(Arkansas)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 20, 2003
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