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Southern pine beetle assistance, privation program taking applications

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The Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services announced that the Florida Forest Service will be accepting applications for the Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Cost Share Program from June 14 through July 31 from eligible private non-industrial forest landowners who own at least five acres.  

The southern pine beetle, or SPB is a native, periodically destructive insect pest of pines in the southeastern United States. Like other pine bark beetle attacks, SPB attacks are typically limited to pines that are dying or weakened due to environmental stress, competition, age or other factors. Under susceptible stand and environmental conditions, however, SPB populations have the potential to build rapidly and kill large numbers of pines, and may overcome the defenses of healthy trees during periodic outbreaks. Between 1993-2002 there were nearly 7,000 SPB infestations in Florida resulting in over 36,000 acres with pine mortality.

The best way to minimize losses from the SPB is to prevent infestations by reducing stand susceptibility through active forest management. The purpose of this program is to help private forest landowners minimize damage from southern pine beetles by helping to reduce the susceptibility of their pine stands to this forest pest.

The program offers partial cost reimbursement for forest management activities such as tree planting with longleaf or slash pines, mechanical underbrush treatment, and prescribed burning.  The program also offers an incentive payment for landowners who conduct a first pulpwood thinning on high risk pine stands.   There are some changes to the plan from previous years such as the first pulpwood thinning is offered on tracts between five and 50 acres.  For the second year, slash pines are an option on appropriate sites for planting cost share.   Landowners may apply for up to two treatments on the same property.  The maximum reimbursement for any landowner is $10,000.   

To find out more details on the program visit www.floridaforestservice.com or contact Hamilton County Senior Forester Greg Marshall at 352-463-3138 or by email at gregory.marshall@freshfromflorida.com.