Water Management District plants 15 millionth longleaf pine

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Each year the Northwest Florida Water Management District plants thousands of longleaf tublings.

"The natural habitat here in north Florida is great for our wildlife, but it's also incredibly important for restoring our water quality and water quantity," Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein said. "That's important to sustain our communities here in north Florida and also serve our environment."

Friday, the District planted its 15 millionth longleaf pine tree at the Econfina Creek Water Management Area.

"We're in Washington County, but a lot of the water supply that Bay County gets actually heads up in Washington County, so it's big for everybody," Northwest Florida Water Management District Chairman George Roberts said.

Officials with the Water Management District said they're choosing to plant longleaf pines because it's the native species of the land and better for water quality and supply.

"We just get a better stand, it seems, from the longleaf in the area," Roberts said. "It depends on the nature of the ground, where you plant them, the soil type, and we're just getting a better result with the longleaf."

What's the process of the planting?

"We cut the property, we cut the trees, then we spray it with the chemicals," Roberts said. "After it's sprayed, then we do a burn. That helps bring back all the nutrition in the ground and we plant the trees."

It's a cycle, with hopes of protecting and restoring... one tree at a time.

Roberts said they're planting more than 478,000 trees this year.