When Hurricane Michael moved through the central Panhandle of Florida, southeastern Alabama, and southwest and central Georgia last year, many acres of forestland were destroyed. Some landowners had timber that was close to being harvested — something a few of them were counting on for their retirement. But now they face the prospect of cleaning up the debris and replanting those timber stands. However, out of catastrophe can come opportunity.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing financial and technical assistance to plant longleaf pine through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
Much more is known today about how to effectively plant pines for higher growth rates and better survival. Pine species like longleaf pine, once considered difficult to plant, now have high survival rates. While longleaf does take a bit longer to start growing vertically, it catches up and at harvest time there is little difference in size.
Longleaf also produces more high-value products and, because of its high resin content, weighs more on the scale at the mill. It is also the best species for wildlife and is fire-tolerant even when burned only one year after planting. Other pine species can’t withstand burning for at least 10 years, allowing understory brush to become too thick for wildlife.
If you are interested in replanting with longleaf pine, USDA’s NRCS and Farm Service Agency have programs that can help finance your reforestation.
For more information, contact your local USDA service center.