Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson has announced that the department’s Division of Forestry is re-offering the Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Cost Share Program to eligible non-industrial private forest landowners. The sign-up period has begun and will run through July 1. The goal of the program is to minimize southern pine beetle damage in Florida by helping forest landowners reduce the susceptibility of their pine stands to this destructive insect pest.
Periodic southern pine beetle outbreaks in Florida have resulted in millions of cubic feet of pine timber killed on thousands of acres. Forest management practices, such as thinning, prescribed burning, other competition control, and use of less-susceptible pine species, can improve the health of pine stands and decrease the likelihood of developing southern pine beetle infestations.
The program offers an incentive payment for landowners who conduct a first pulpwood thinning, and partial cost reimbursement for pre-commercial thinning, prescribed burning, mechanical underbrush treatments, and planting longleaf pine.
The program is limited to 44 northern Florida counties located within the range of the southern pine beetle. Qualified landowners may apply for no more than two approved practices per year. The minimum tract size requirement is 10 acres and funding requests may not exceed $10,000.
Application forms and more information on program requirements and procedures can be obtained from a local Division of Forestry office or visit www.fl-dof.com to obtain application materials and contact information for county forester offices. All qualifying applications received during the sign-up period will be evaluated and ranked for funding approval. The program is supported through temporary grants from the USDA Forest Service and limited funding is available.