Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson announced today 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 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 their likelihood of developing southern pine beetle infestations.
The program offers up to 50% cost reimbursement for pre-commercial thinning, prescribed burning and mechanical underbrush treatments in existing pine stands, and a $50 per acre incentive payment for landowners who conduct a first pulpwood thinning.
In addition, landowners may apply to receive up to 50% reimbursement for the cost of longleaf seedlings and $25 per acre in planting cost assistance to establish a longleaf pine plantation. The program is limited to 44 northern Florida counties located within the range of the southern pine beetle. Qualified landowners may apply for up to two approved practices per year. The minimum tract size requirement is 10 acres and funding requests may not exceed $10,000.
For an application and more information on program requirements and procedures, forest landowners can visit their local Division of Forestry office or contact the county forester office in their area by visiting www.fl-dof.com. Applications will be available beginning July 30 and will be evaluated on a first-received, first-served basis. The program is supported through temporary grants from the USDA Forest Service and will be offered only as long as funding is available.