Sunday, June 19, 2011

Deadline approaches for forest landowners fighting beetle infestations

Pine beetle outbreaks in Florida have resulted in millions of cubic feet of pine timber over thousands of acres. Private, non-industrial forest landowners in northern and central Florida have a limited amount of time left to apply for a cost-share program designed to fight these pine beetle infestations. 

Because the program is intended as a preventative, landowners do not need to have an infestation to apply for the program. Payments may be used to pay for practices like first pulpwood thinning, pre-commercial thinning, prescribed burning, planting longleaf pines, and mechanical underbrush treatment. Funding must cover at least 10 acres and may not exceed $10,000. Unlike similar programs in previous years that were first-come-first-served, funding requests will be prioritized according to program priorities. Property is prioritized based on a number of factors, including the type of activity planned, whether funding has been given in previous years, whether a forest management plan has been prepared, and whether the region is at a high risk of infestation based on historical activity.

Landowners have until Monday, June 27 to submit applications to the Division of Forestry, part of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.