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W. P. A. History of Pontotoc County, Mississippi

Chapter IV:  FLORA


Thirty-eight sections of the purchase area of the NATCHEZ TRACE GAME PRESERVE are located in the southeastern section of Pontotoc County.  This area comprises parts of  sections 32, 33, 34, and 35, township 11, range 4, with 1,100 acres.  The ultimate aim is to take in all of these sections; although the land in this county is not optioned as yet, the work is progressing rapidly in Chickasaw County. (1)

In the northwest corner of Pontotoc County, 15,000 acres are included in the area of HOLLYSPRINGS NATIONAL FOREST, but nothing  has been done in the way of improvement there.

Field work by the Civilian Conservation Corps at Ecru was started August 8, 1935.  Since that time nineteen farms have been worked in Pontotoc and Union Counties under the gully or EROSION CONTROL PROGRAM.  This work will benefit approximately 450 acres and the total area actually treated amounts to 150 acres.  Exactly 4,624 brush and wire dams, aggregating 40,433 linear feet, a total of 2,182 rods of fence, and 6,425 feet of diversion ditches have been constructed.

Forestry work included the planting of 272,072 black locust seedling trees, and 297 pounds of various kinds of nuts.  Bermuda sod was placed on 231,077 square yards, and 534 pounds of winter grass seeds have been planted.  Blasting has been done on ten farms, aggregating 5,647 linear feet of gully banks, and 5,322 cubic yards of earth moved. (2)

Under the new program soil surveys have been made and soil land maps prepared for thirty-two farms, comprising 4,205 acres.  On twenty-three farms, fifty-three miles of terrace have been staked out, the acreage requiring terracing amounted to 844.  The farmers themselves have partially constructed at least fourteen miles of terrace.  Exactly 15,654 linear feet of terrace outlets have been designed and staked out, and 1800 linear feet constructed.  In addition, applications for terracing, cropping plans, and pasture and forest stand as improvements were received from 170 farmers, controlling approximately 30,000 acres of land.  (3)

A good deal of work is being done along the line of improvement and reproduction of home forest.  Five thousand trees, ranging from three to eight years, are being thinned and pruned in this acreage.  The reason for pruning  the young trees is to make a small tight knot.  Pruning is not done in dry seasons because of the prevalence of insects and fungi.  Pine trees are more valuable for lumber, hence a lot of time is spent on these.  Plans are being made to prune some red oaks, because they are not of commercial value unless this is done.  So far, ten acres have been pruned, 1936, with an expectation of doing much more of this in the future.

Black locusts have been planted because they make rapid growth on good land; they are easily propagated and produce very durable wood.  It is a legume, and by virtue of its roots nodules is a natural soil enricher.  Its strong, spreading-root system and rapid development gives it first place among all trees in quality to check erosion in gullies and on steep hillsides.  Its very durable wood makes it widely sought and used for fence posts, stakes, and poles.  The black locust has a dangerous enemy known as the black locust borer.  The menace of this pest should be carefully considered before choosing black locust as a tree plant, or deciding on the matter of planting. (4)

Over 64,000 loblolly pines, 1857 yellow  poplars, and 689 sycamores were planted in the spring of 1936.

(1) W. O. Taylor, Pontotoc, Miss.

(2) R. W. Elliot, Jr., Forrester Camp S. C. S. #2, Ecru, Miss.

(3) W. C. Fields, camp project superintendent, Pontotoc, Miss.

(4) "Growing Black Locust Trees," Farmer's Bulletin #1628 p. 1.

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