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Longleaf pine reforestation could have $300M economic impact

SOUTHEAST MISSISSIPPI — A long-term, federal initiative aimed at more than doubling the size of longleaf pine forests in the Southeast could have an estimated $300 million economic impact in the Mississippi Pine Belt.

In February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that 20 restoration projects had been programmed for 2012, including a $2.7 million effort in the DeSoto National Forest that will focus on rebuilding the longleaf pine ecosystems that Katrina disrupted.

The Hattiesburg American reports it is the first commitment to a De Soto Ranger District project that would require a similar, annual USDA investment for the next 15 years.

The district includes Forrest, George, Greene, Pearl River, Perry and Stone counties among its nine-county range.

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