Friday, December 9, 2022

The hope: ‘Longleaf pine will grow and once again thrive in coastal Virginia’

VIRGINIA BEACH — Virginia Natural Gas is the recipient of the Southern Gas Association’s 2018 Community Service Award for its Longleaf Pine Restoration Project.

The annual award recognizes “the most effective service or outreach program that improves the communities in which its natural gas industry members operate,” said Jennifer Golz, spokeswoman for Virginia Natural Gas.

Last year, volunteers from Virginia Natural Gas, along with Virginia Beach Department of Parks and Recreation and Virginia Department of Forestry, joined The Nature Conservancy’s efforts to restore a key piece of southeastern Virginia’s environmental and cultural heritage.

More than 150 longleaf pine trees were planted in one day at the Lake Lawson/Lake Smith Natural Area and Mouth Trashmore Park.

The Community Service Award was presented to Virginia Natural Gas during Southern Gas Association’s 2018 Management Conference.

“The employees and leadership of Virginia Natural Gas demonstrated exceptional corporate citizenship, as well as commitment to improve and invest in their community through the Longleaf Pine Restoration Project,” said William N. Cantrell, president of Southern Gas Association.

“The Longleaf Pine Restoration Project is an important effort by Virginia Natural Gas and its partners that will have a lasting impact,” said Virginia Beach Councilman Ben Davenport, who attended the tree planting event. “When we work together to protect the resources of Virginia Beach, we are also protecting jobs and opportunities for generations to come.”

The hope

According to The Nature Conservancy, the longleaf pine occupied more than 1.5 million acres in pre-colonial Virginia. But by the late 1890s, the pine had been harvested to near extinction because of its predominant use by the region’s early shipbuilding industry. At the turn of the century, the longleaf pine occupied less than 3 percent of its original range in the southeast and fewer than 200 mature trees remained in the state.

By the age of 10, these 150 trees planted as part of the Longleaf Pine Restoration Project will have captured more than 10 tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalency), which is equivalent of taking two cars off the road for a year. Longleaf pines mature around the age of 30, reaching heights as much as 110 feet and up to 3 feet in diameter. The pines can live as long as 300 years because of their resistance to storms, droughts, insects and fire.

“We are committed to supporting initiatives that protect and preserve the environment and are honored to be recognized for this project” said Jim Kibler, president of Virginia Natural Gas. “With the help of our company and others, our hope is the longleaf pine will grow and once again thrive in coastal Virginia.”

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