Support for Florida Timber Producers Recovering from Hurricane Michael

Clint Thompson Florida, Forestry, Weather

File photo shows the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in 2018.

(NSF) – Timber growers in Florida who sustained damage from Hurricane Michael in October 2018 can start applying for federal recovery grants. State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced registration has opened for the Florida Timber Recovery Block Grant Program and the Florida Irrigation Recovery Block Grant Program.

Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm, caused about $1.3 billion in losses to the timber industry in Florida. Fried says growers in 18 North Florida counties are eligible for the $380 million in federal grant money as part of the storm recovery efforts.

“It’s a $25 billion industry here in the state of Florida, timber, with thousands of jobs. It really is a part of the infrastructure in those communities, and it is essential for the livelihoods of those counties.” 

Growers had to sustain at least a 25% loss during Michael to be eligible for the Timber Recovery Block Grant and a minimum 15% crop loss to be eligible for the Irrigation Recovery Block Grant.

(UF/IFAS) – The University of Florida/IFAS has announced they are supporting these producers in their recovery through a series of webinars on relevant topics to the reforestation process. Hosted by the UF/IFAS Florida Land Steward program, an Extension service of the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation (SFRC), the first event is scheduled for Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. CDT and will detail a just-announced block grant funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The Florida counties involved in this process are: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Okaloosa, Suwannee, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton and Washington.

Planned webinar topics include:

  1. Hurricane Recovery Assistance Update and Timber Market Update(scheduled for Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. CDT / 2 p.m. EDT): Information about the block grant program with Daniel Stevens, cooperative forestry assistance supervisor at the Florida Forest Service; plus, a brief market update from Laura Bosworth, director of forestry and regulatory affairs at the Florida Forestry Association.
  2. Which Pine is Right for My Property? (scheduled for Sept. 17 at 1 p.m. CDT / 2 p.m. EDT) led by Stan Rosenthal, UF/IFAS Extension forestry agent emeritus and forest advocate, also affiliated with the Florida Wildlife Federation and Natural Resource Planning Services.
  3. Keys to Success with Longleaf Pine and Enviva Biomass Partnership (scheduled for Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. CDT / 2 p.m. EDT), featuring Ad Platt, vice president for operations at The Longleaf Alliance; Ben Larson, director of sustainability at Enviva; Shawn Cook, sustainability forester at Enviva; and Billy Clark, commodity manager at Enviva. (Registration details to come.)
  4. Invasive Species Identification and Control (scheduled for Oct. 1 at 1 p.m. CDT / 2 p.m. EDT), led by Brian Pelc, restoration project manager at The Nature Conservancy. (Registration details to come.)

The schedule for the UF/IFAS webinar series can be found on the newly improved UF/IFAS Florida Land Steward program website, and participants must register in advance to receive the Zoom meeting information. The series will be recorded and remain accessible on the website following each live event.

(From the News Service of Florida and University of Florida/IFAS)