The Steward of the Zuni Pine Barrens

The early naturalists who explored the American South marveled at the longleaf-pine forests that covered vast stretches of the coastal plain. In his 1791 account of his travels, William Bartram described "open, airy" tracts, "the stately trees scatteringly planted by nature, arising straight and erect from the green carpet, embellished with various grasses and flowering plants."

In Bartram's time, those forests covered as many as 90 million acres from Virginia to Texas, but the U.S.