Alternative Enterprises for Your Forest Land:
Forest Grazing, Christmas Trees, Hunting Leases,
Pine Straw, Fee Fishing and Firewood
Mary L. Duryea, Editor
.4, 5 i
Ii -6; ~'
I Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences / University of Florida / John T. Woeste, Dean
In the past, managing your forest land usually meant managing the timber to produce the maximum
amount of wood fiber for a given pulp or timber species. However, in addition to managing for timber
products, there are other enterprises which can provide benefits to the landowner.
Forest Grazing: Timber and cattle production on the same area can be very compatible. Planting trees
at "wide-row spacings" can provide both adequate timber production and sustained forage production
throughout the rotation age of the tree stand.
Christmas Trees: Christmas tree production in Florida is comprised mainly of small (1 to 5 acre)
"choose-and-cut" plantations. A profitable Christmas tree operation in Florida involves intensive cultural
management to produce well-shaped, high-quality trees over a short rotation (usually 3 to 4 years).
Hunting Leases: Leasing private lands for recreational uses such as hunting is an increasingly popular
alternative for supplemental income. Hunting leases offer landowners a low-cost alternative enterprise
in which they can annually make an average of $2.00 to $4.00 or more per acre by allowing access to
Pine Straw: Longleaf and slash pine trees annually deposit a blanket of needles on the forest floor.
Land owners can substantially increase their income by selling these needles as pine-straw mulch to
nurseries and homeowners.
Fee Fishing: The number of resident anglers in Florida is rapidly increasing due to the growing
interest in fishing and Florida's rapidly growing population. Fee fishing -- paying for the right to fish
and/or paying for any fish that are caught -- is becoming popular among anglers and may provide
income for landowners who develop and market this recreational activity.
Firewood: Firewood businesses are viable alternatives in many Florida counties, especially in areas
adjacent to suburban and urban population centers. If you already own land with trees on it, the
harvesting and marketing of firewood can bring extra income, as well as provide an opportunity to
improve your woodland management.
F b3 c.
C. z SCIENCE
Contributors LIBRARY C
Charles E. Cichra, Assistant Professor, Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, University of Florida, 7922
NW 71st St., Gainesville, FL 32606.
Mary L. Duryea, Assistant Professor, Department of Forestry, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.
James C. Edwards, Assistant Professor, Cooperative Extension Service, Florida A & M University, Tallahassee,
Wayne R. Marion, Associate Professor, Department of Wildlife and Range Sciences, University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 32611.
Nancy A. Pywell, Assistant Professor, Department of Forestry, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.
George W. Tanner, Associate Professor, Department of Wildlife and Range Sciences, University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 32611.
Roger S. Webb, Associate Professor, Department of Forestry, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.
Table of Contents
H highlights . .......................................................... 2
Introduction ............................................................... 5
Mary L Duryea
Forest Grazing ....................................................... ...... 6
George W. Tanner
Christm as Trees ............................................................. 9
Roger S. Webb
H hunting Leases ............................................................. 14
Wayne R. Marion
Pine Straw ................................................. ............. 18
James C. Edwards
Fee Fishing ....................... ............. ........................... 21
Charles E. Cichra
Firewood .................................................................. 27
Nancy A. Pywell
Literature Cited ........................................................... 29
Additional Reading -- for More Information ...................................... 30
Production, text editing and type formatting by Sarah M. Knox, Assistant In Editorial; illustrations and publication design
by Helen K. Huseman, Illustrator II, IFAS Editorial Department, IFAS, University of Florida, Gainesville.
Mary L. Duryea
In the past, managing your forest land usually
meant managing the trees to produce the maximum
amount of wood mass for a given pulp or sawtimber
species. However, in addition to managing for these
timber products, there are other enterprises which
can diversify a forest resources management program
and also may provide financial return to the
landowner. In this publication we highlight six of
the major enterprises which the landowner might in-
corporate into a forest resource management scheme.
These enterprises include forest grazing, Christmas
trees hunting leases, pine straw, fee fishing and
Why add other enterprises to your land? Timber
is a long-term investment with returns available only
after 20 or more years. In many circumstances
additional, shorter term income from the forest land
would be beneficial. For instance, a grazing lease
on the land might provide additional income during
the early years of a plantation. In other cases,
other enterprises might be added for aesthetic
reasons or as a hobby. Persons who love wildlife
and/or hunting might want to manage parts of their
forest land for wildlife. Many landowners might
want to manage their land for several products at
once, resulting in a mosaic of different enterprises
as shown in Figure 1.
Adding and managing a successful forest resource
enterprise, like any other business, involves planning
and decision-making prior to its establishment and
throughout the life of the enterprise. Some of the
general steps that need to be followed to successful-
ly begin and manage an alternative enterprise are:
1. Define your objectives and level of involvement
in the enterprise that you desire.
2. Investigate the marketing potential of the
product/enterprise in your area.
3. Investigate the biological and management poten-
tial of carrying out this enterprise on your land.
4. Identify any major factors (for example, financial,
taxation, marketing, labor) which may limit the
success of your forestry enterprise.
5. Decide what kind of assistance you need to begin
and manage this enterprise; for example, financial,
taxation, legal, forestry, and marketing assistance.
6. Plan the enterprise with professionals; for ex-
ample, a certified public accountant, professional
forester, attorney-at-law, etc.
7. With the help of professionals, develop a written
management plan for your new enterprise.
8. Always consider safety as an important component
of your forestry enterprise.
9. Develop a timetable for implementing your new
10. Keep good records at every phase of the es-
tablishment and management of the enterprise.
The purpose of this circular is to describe some
alternative enterprises in addition to timber for your
forest land. Each enterprise is addressed individually
in the following format:
1. Introduction What is the enterprise and what is
2. Steps for adding each enterprise
3. Costs and Returns for the enterprise
4. Advantages and Disadvantages of managing for
At the end of the circular, we provide a list of
publications to obtain additional information on each
George W. Tanner
The pine forests of the southeastern United
States have been grazed by cattle for approximately
400 years. Prior to state-mandated fence laws,
cattle were allowed to roam over the "open range"
seeking forage wherever it could be found. Ranchers
used frequent burning to keep fresh forage available
for the cattle, often without regard to the ownership
of the land. Today livestock are required to be
fenced, and prescribed fire is managed to keep young
pine stands protected until the trees are sufficiently
mature to withstand fire.
Timber and cattle production on the same area
can be very compatible. However, the combination of
the two enterprises requires advanced planning and
'increased management. Herbaceous understory
vegetation, which is the primary forage for livestock,
and overstory trees compete for the available
sunlight. Therefore, the amount of forage being
produced within a forest stand will depend upon the
age, density, and planting configuration of the
overstory trees. In general, the greater amount of
sunlight reaching the forest floor, the greater
amount of forage that can be produced. Newly
planted pine plantations will produce maximum levels
of forage regardless of tree density or planting
configuration. As the trees age and their crowns
develop, forage production will decline unless the
trees are planted in a configuration that will allow
open spaces to exist in the forest canopy (Figure 2).
Such configurations are called "wide-row spacings,"
and are designed to provide adequate timber produc-
tion and sustained forage production throughout the
rotation age of the tree stand.
Owners of forest land who do not own cattle may
wish to lease their forage resources in the under-
story to a cattle owner. Many functional leases are
arranged and secured by verbal agreement and a
hand shake, but a written lease document is sug-
gested to reduce potential confusion or misunderstan-
dings between the two parties.
AGE 0 5 10 15 20 25
Bosal Area (mZ/ho) 5 7 17 23 27
Figure 2. Generalized response of herbaceous
forage production under a developing
canopy of slash pine trees planted at an
8-foot by 12-foot spacing. To convert
forage production to Ibs per acre,
multiply by 0.9.
Steps to Add Grazing to a Pulp or Saw Timber
1. Establish trees in wide-row spacings. Wide-
row spacings are installed by planting two or
more rows of trees closer together than usual and
then providing a wider-than-normal unplanted
space before planting another set of closer rows.
A wide-row spacing that is receiving increasing
acceptance and use in Florida is the 4 feet x 8
feet x 40 feet configuration (Figure 3). This
Figure 3. A 13-year-old stand of slash pine planted
at the (4-foot x 8-foot) x 40-foot wide-
configuration calls for planting trees 4 feet apart
in two rows spaced 8 feet apart, then skipping 40
feet and planting two more rows. Some land-
owners are planting three to five rows and
skipping 80 feet to allow farming of crops
between the rows. Trees can be planted in wide-
row spacings on cutover forest land or on tame
2. Establish grass. Bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum
Fluegge) is the most shade-tolerant pasture grass,
but it may be very competitive with young pine
seedlings for moisture. Therefore, to aid initial
tree survival in case of drought, disk or apply
herbicide to the strip of sod where the trees are
to be planted.
3. Stock with cattle. Cattle should not be allowed
to graze the site until sufficient forage has
developed and the trees have become established
(approximately 1 year on cutover forest or 6 to 8
months on bahiagrass pasture). Cattle should be
stocked at about one-half the normal stocking
rate during the first growing season that they
graze, then at normal rates thereafter.
4. If you are leasing your land... A grazing lease
should specify the parcel(s) of land to be grazed,
the period of time cattle are allowed on the land,
the maximum number of cattle, provisions for
young plantation protection, fencing responsibili-
ties (construction and maintenance), liability for
any damages or vandalism that occur on the
property, and provisions for breaking the lease.
Forage production, and consequently cattle
stocking rate, will change as forest stands mature
and are harvested. Therefore, lease costs should
be based on the estimated amount of forage
available and not on a per-acre basis. Since it is
known how much a cow will eat for a given
month or year, forage availability estimates can
be converted to allowable cattle numbers, and the
lease based on a per-head charge.
Costs and Returns
Wide-row tree spacings have not been commer-
cially used to an extent which will allow an estimate
of comparative costs. Costs of site preparation will
vary according to the extent of the treatment (total
cutover area or actual strips where trees will be
planted) and to the intensity of treatment. At any
given level of site preparation intensity, costs for
strip treatment should be proportionally reduced from
that of total area treatment.
Lease costs for forest grazing are extremely
variable. A survey of prices paid in 15 Florida
counties in 1984 averaged $1.84 per acre, but ranged
from $0.25 to $9.41 per acre (Tanner and Gates [In
Press]). Depending on whether the leased forest land
is all young plantation or all mature plantation, the
average cost of $1.84 per acre will equate to a cost
range of approximately $20.00 to $100.00 per head of
cattle per year. This hypothetical example should
support the benefit to the forest and cattle owner of
establishing a lease price according to the amount of
1. Forest grazing is a means of securing annual
income while a forest stand is growing to a
merchantable size. Wide-row spacing will allow
forages to be produced at near open-field levels
while simultaneously growing a crop of timber.
2. Also, wide-row spacing is anticipated to improve
wildlife habitat when compared to uniformly
3. Cattle grazing will reduce roughage accumulation
thereby lowering the fire hazard, especially in
young stands of trees.
4. Leasing forest land for grazing allows the lan-
downer to receive annual income from the proper-
ty without having to own and manage the cattle
5. Developing a written lease provides the landowner
legal security that the timber and forage resour-
ces will be protected and not abused.
1. Combining timber and cattle production requires
an increased amount of management to optimize
profitability from both commodities.
2. Careful management and inventorying of available
forage must be employed to avoid overstocking
and overgrazing of the land.
Forest land often supplies a relatively inexpensive
source of cattle forage. Proper use of this resource
may provide additional income to the landowner over
that of growing timber alone. Technical and educa-
tional information concerning forest grazing can be
obtained from county Cooperative Extension Service
offices. Technical field assistance can be obtained
from the Florida Division of Forestry for tree-related
matters and from the U.S.D.A. Soil Conservation
Service for forage and livestock-related matters. It
is suggested that consultation with a certified public
accountant and an attorney-at-law be obtained in
developing a grazing lease contract.
Roger S. Webb
A profitable Christmas tree operation in Florida
demands intensive cultural management to produce
well-shaped, high-quality trees over a short rotation
(usually 3 to 4 years). The traditional northern
conifer will not grow well in the Florida climate;
however, certain species native to Florida, if tended
properly, may grow well and provide a less expensive
Christmas tree. Combating the few major diseases
and insects of native Christmas tree species will
reduce the likelihood of poor quality trees due to
pest damage and increase the financial return and
success of Christmas tree plantings.
Northern conifers such as Scots pine, balsam fir,
and Norway spruce traditionally have been the
Christmas tree species preferred by Florida con-
sumers. When energy costs were inexpensive, these
trees could be grown in the north and midwest over
a long rotation (8 to 9 years), shipped to southern
markets, and growers could still make substantial
profits. However, with the increase in fuel and
labor costs, it is now almost as expensive to ship a
tree to Florida from northern and mid-western areas
as it is to grow it. The increased prices of northern
conifers have stimulated new interest in producing
native trees in Florida for local markets.
Northern conifers managed for Christmas trees
require long, cold winters during which the trees
enter a period of dormancy as a part of their natural
development. In Florida, the growing season may
extend throughout the year, not enabling northern
trees to become dormant. As a result, the desirable
spring and summer flushes of foliage which are
critical for shaping of high-quality trees do not
occur. Certain native trees adapted for the Florida
climate do not need as much cold to become dor-
mant, and so they routinely produce the spring and
summer foliage needed for local Christmas tree
Three native tree species are recommended for
Christmas tree production in Florida but care must
be taken to match each species with the characteris-
tics of the soil where each will be planted:
Sand pine There are two varieties of sand pine
[Pinus clausa (Chapm.) Vasey] in Florida. The
Choctawhatchee variety occurs naturally in the
western Florida panhandle and is preferred for
Christmas tree production due to its straighter stem
form and better outplanting survival than the Ocala
variety. The needles are short and twisted, and
when properly sheared, sand pines resemble the form
of more traditional northern Christmas tree species.
Choctawhatchee sand pine has evolved on deep, well-
drained, infertile sandy soils. Hence, seedlings will
not survive in appreciable numbers when planted on
moist, fertile sites characteristic of other southern
Southern redcedar This species [Juniperus
silicicola (Small) Bailey] is widely distributed in
Florida and is adapted to a wide variety of climatic
conditions and soils. Southern redcedar grows best
on moist, heavier-textured soils but may perform well
on drier, sandy soils, except on those soils charac-
teristic of the sand pine native habitat.
Virginia pine This species (Pinus virginiana
Mill.) does well in northern Florida on heavier-
textured soils where the brief cool temperatures of
Figure 4. A successful, well-maintained Florida
Christmas tree plantation.
winter reflect its more northerly natural range. It is
similar in growth form to sand pine but produces
much heavier wood.
Christmas tree production in Florida is comprised
mainly of small (1 to 5 acre) "choose-and-cut"
plantations (Figure 4). The most successful of these
operations are located within 50 miles of a metropo-
litan area and depend upon a return trade of sati-
sfied customers. Trees which are not sold during
the Christmas season may be reworked by intensive
shearing or selective removal of lower branches to
improve the appearance and keep the trees within an
acceptable height range for the next year.
More than 32 million living trees are cut and sold
from retail lots or "choose and cut" operations in the
United States each year. In Florida, approximately
700,000 are shipped to retail lots from out-of-state
while an additional 50,000 trees are grown in-state.
Florida producers of Christmas trees are seeking to
expand their share of the statewide market through
the "choose and cut" system which maximizes tree
freshness and minimizes grower losses.
Unfortunately, Christmas tree species grown in
Florida do not experience severe winters and may
not become dormant. When cut, the trees tend to
dry out quickly and not retain acceptable moisture in
the branches and needles for an attractive
Customers prefer trees in the 5 to 7 foot height
range due to limitations of house or apartment space
and cost of the tree. Florida-grown trees in this
height range sold retail for $18 to $24 each in 1987
while out-of-state trees on retail lots sold for 25%
to 50% higher. Florida producers also sell large
numbers of trees wholesale to in-state retailers for
$10 to $11 per tree.
The labor required for many of these steps is
summarized in Table 1.
1. Prepare the site. A smooth, level soil surface is
best for Christmas tree plantings so site prepara-
tion is necessary to clear the land. Woody plants
and their root systems should be removed and the
cover vegetation burned and/or disked. Disking
at least several months prior to planting allows
settling of the soil before seedlings are planted.
The best time to plant Christmas tree seedlings in
Florida is late December or January.
2. Control weeds. Herbicides should be considered
if the soil structure is loose and the ground
covered with annual weeds. Use extreme caution
when using any pesticide and follow label direc-
tions for proper and safe application.
3. Fertilize. While fertilizers are not usually
necessary for Christmas tree production, par-
ticularly on old-field sites, new time-release
fertilizer tablets with residual activity of 1 to 3
years may be advantageous for growing trees in
our sandy Florida soils. However, further testing
is needed before specific recommendations can be
made. This may mean reduced fertilizer losses
due to leaching and a prolonged presence of
fertilizer constantly in the root zone, where it
needs to remain for maximum effectiveness. A
soil test performed by the county extension office
should be done routinely to identify nutrient
problems and recommend corrective fertilization.
4. Know your seedlings. The seed source should be
local whenever possible to obtain seedlings
adapted to the southern United States, or prefer-
ably the Florida environment. Purchase only
seedlings that carry a certificate of state inspec-
tion for the absence of pests.
5. Purchase high quality seedlings. Only high
quality seedlings should be purchased from
experienced nurseries. Most seedlings sold for
Christmas tree production will be one year old
and are designated by the nursery as "1-0".
Bareroot seedlings are sold in bundles of 500 or
1,000; the root systems should be packed in
moisture retaining materials and wrapped in water
repellent kraft paper.
Containerized seedlings may also be purchased
from certain nurseries, and although they are
usually more expensive than bareroot stock, they
have root systems already growing in soil media.
6. Discard seedlings which are too small. Within
each lot of seedlings, whether bareroot or con-
tainerized, there exits a range of seedling sizes.
Discard the very small seedlings, since these will
never produce high-quality trees in a reasonable
period of time and so are comparatively unprofit-
able. Ideally, seedlings to be planted should have
tops ranging from six to ten inches in height
with an equal root system size, and have a
ground-level stem diameter of approximately 1/4
7. Do not let seedlings dry out. Seedling bundles
must not dry out either during shipment or be
left open and exposed during planting, as this
reduces the likelihood of post-planting survival.
Water seedlings as soon as possible after receiving
them, and if planting is not accomplished within
several days, store the wet bundles in a cold (not
freezing), dark place but only for as short a time
period as possible. Once in the field, seedlings
must be kept moist.
8. Establish spacing. Trees are generally spaced at
6 x 6 feet, or 1,210 trees per acre. Planting
seedlings at regular intervals at intersections of
rows and columns facilitates mowing and pesticide
applications. Also, "neatness counts" for choose-
and-cut operations -- an orderly, well-kept
Christmas tree plantation impresses potential
customers. In large plantations where equipment
access is critical, consider leaving every tenth
row vacant as a roadway to ease transport.
9. Plant seedlings. For the small grower, either a
planting bar ("dibble") or spade is ideal for
planting seedlings. Plant seedlings at the depth
at which they grew in the container or nursery
bed, which is determined by examining the lower
stem for the interface between the top portion
and the beginning of the root system.
10. If possible, water. Watering can help the trees
become established and it will also settle the soil
and remove air pockets which could reduce
11. Shear. Shearing in Florida should begin at the end
of the first growing season after planting. At
this time, more intensive shearing should be
directed at reducing the height of the terminal
leader while allowing the lower laterals to grow
proportionately more (Figure 5). A shorter tree
is preferred even through the second year of
growth to ensure more compact foliage. Height
Figure 5. Pruning will eliminate excessive terminal
leader growth and result in a traditional
cone-shaped Christmas tree.
can be "added" during the third year during the
shearing process by favoring growth of the
terminal more than the lateral branches.
During the second and subsequent years, the
first shearing of the season should occur first in
the spring, after bud break but before the new
shoots are 4 to 6 inches long. A mid- to late-
summer shearing is necessary, and early fall
shearing may be needed to force as much energy
as possible from height growth back into the
conical form for growth of the foliage.
Prune the terminal leader to about 50 percent
of original height and at a 45-degree angle to
balance the form as well as to favor formation of
only one bud to maintain growth of a single
terminal. Symptoms of pest damage such as dead
branch tips from pine tip moths or flagging
branches due to the pitch canker fungus, especia-
lly among Virginia pines, should be mechanically
removed or burned.
Various shearing tools are available for the
small grower such as hand pruners, hedge clip-
pers, pruning knives, and an array of gasoline or
battery powered, backpack-mounted shearing rigs.
Since user safety is the prime consideration, hand
pruners or hedge clippers are recommended to
provide maximum safety to the user and other
persons in the immediate area of shearing opera-
tions. Severe wounds can be quickly inflicted
when shearing with knives or mechanical devices,
so gloves and shin guards are recommended. Kits
of bandages and simple wound dressings also
should be kept close at hand to treat the in-
evitable accidents that are likely to occur during
Following these simple rules for planting and
shearing will increase the likelihood that top-quality
Table 1. Labor required per year during three years of a
Christmas tree operation.
Labor Required (Person-Hours)a
Operations 1st year 2nd year 3rd year total
Site preparation 5 5
Planting 20 20
Mowing 20 20 20 60
Shearing 1 2 3 6
Pest Control 2 2 2 6
Herbicide application 4 4 4 12
Harvesting 10 10
Total 52 28 39 119
a Values will vary depending upon economies of scale and
level of mechanization.
trees will be produced. As Florida Christmas tree
growers improve their skills, the quality of trees will
improve, and in a competitive market place, the trees
with optimal form and thickness should sell first.
Costs and Returns
The costs and returns for growing Christmas trees
in Florida in 1987 are shown in the following table:
Table 2. Per-acre profit of Florida-grown Christmas trees
(1987) based on 1,210 trees per acre (6 x 6 ft.
Estimated number of salable trees per acre
Average wholesale price per tree
Estimated maximum gross return, per acre
(@$10.00 x 800 trees sold)
Estimated maximum operating cost
(for "choose-and-cut" operations,
excluding land rent
and management costs), per acre
Estimated maximum net profit, per acre
Estimated maximum net return per acre
per year (4-year rotation), excluding
land rent and management cost
1. Christmas tree species are available which are
suitable to the Florida soils and climate.
2. The cultural system is easy to learn and practice.
3. Input costs (excluding land costs) are low relative
to potential profits.
4. Market potential in Florida is steadily shifting in
favor of high-quality, fresh, "choose-and-cut"
trees produced locally.
5. The business may be conducted as an intensive,
full-time business on large acreages or as a
second-income, family-oriented operation on
1. The availability of local markets determines the
profitability of "choose-and-cut" operations, and
these markets may be easily overestimated,
especially when production sources may increase
in any one area for a brief period of time.
2. Although easy to manage, Christmas tree farms
must be inspected frequently to prevent small
problems with pests or weeds from becoming
large, expensive ones.
3. Growers must be diligent in the timing and
quality of their cultural applications.
4. High-quality trees sell best but are usually not
produced initially by inexperienced growers; this
may dampen grower enthusiasm and result in
below-normal early cash flows.
5. Three to four years are necessary before the first
crop of trees is sold which may create a financial
Christmas tree production in Florida may be a
profitable alternative enterprise for either the full-
time or part-time grower provided an adequate local
market exists. The grower should start small (1 to 2
acres per year) and expand slowly to satisfy the
local market without exceeding the number of trees
to be sold in any one season. The production of
only the highest quality trees should be the guiding
principle of the operation since poor-quality trees do
not sell well and weaken the reputation of Florida-
Wayne R. Marion
Demands for outdoor recreational opportunities in the
United States tripled from 1962 to 1983 and this
trend is expected to increase in the future, par-
ticularly in a tourist-oriented state like Florida
(Doig 1986). Leasing of private lands for recreation-
al uses such as hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping,
which normally have minimal impact on the land is
becoming an increasingly popular alternative that
may be supplemental to other land uses and income.
Leases for hunting in the southeastern United States
have expanded in popularity and extent in the last
two decades; Florida experienced an estimated 16 to
25 percent growth in the use of hunting lease
systems in the decade 1975 to 1985 (Wiggers and
Rootes 1987). This section will describe the status
of hunting leases in Florida and their potential as a
source of revenue for landowners.
Figure 6. The majority of hunting leases in Florida
are for white-tailed deer.
Prior to deciding whether or not to lease private
land for hunting, it may be useful for the landowner
to consider the following:
1. Inventory game species and habitats. It is
important to know what wildlife resources you
have on your property prior to trying to "sell"
them (Figure 6). Therefore, having an inventory
of game species and available habitats for these
species on your property is a good place to start.
Some expertise is necessary to recognize wildlife
habitat characteristics and /or signs of wildlife
population abundance; this is best accomplished by
requesting technical assistance from regional
offices of the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish
Commission located in Panama City, Lake City,
Ocala, Lakeland, and West Palm Beach.
2. Evaluate characteristics of your land and its
game population. It is useful to recognize that
the amount of income realized from hunting leases
depends upon several things, including number of
acres leased, abundance of game on the land, the
location of the leased property, and management
skills and goals of the landowner. In general,
people with larger tracts of land in closer proxi-
mity to population centers and with high game
populations tend to receive the most income from
3. Decide on time commitment. A serious assess-
ment of the time commitments and the abilities of
the landowner in dealing with people is essential.
This enterprise, like most others, does take some
time and work in order to be successful. The
preferred way of dealing with people is for the
landowner to lease to one or a very few hunting
Sample Hunting Lease
This LEASE made and entered into this day of
hereinafter called the "LANDOWNER," and
(the person or group to whom hunting rights are
being leased), hereinafter called the "LESSEE."
1. LANDOWNER for and in consideration of the rents and
covenants hereinafter referred to does hereby lease unto
LESSEE for the purpose of hunting white-tailed deer the
following premises: (describe the tract of land to be leased).
2. The term of the lease will be for the period of one year,
beginning on 19 and
ending on ,19_ .
3. LESSEE shall pay unto LANDOWNER a rent of
$__ in cash, one-half of the total to be paid on or before
,19__, and the balance to be paid on or
before ,19_ .
4. LESSEE will abide by the State and Federal laws re-
garding the hunting of white-tailed deer and will report all
animals killed to the LANDOWNER so that records may be
5. LANDOWNER reserves the right and privilege for a
maximum of three persons from his family to hunt and fish on
the leased property at any time.
6. LESSEE may permit guests to accompany him upon the
leased property for the purpose of hunting white-tailed deer,
but the number of guests the LESSEE may invite upon the
leased property shall not at any time exceed two.
7. LESSEE will not cut, injure, or destroy any trees, crops,
roads, fences, buildings, or other improvements located on the
leased property, and LESSEE agrees to compensate LAND-
OWNER for all damages so caused as determined by LAND-
OWNER. Vehicular travel is limited to established roads now
located on leased property.
8. LESSEE will not assign this lease or sublet the leased
property or any part thereof without the written consent of
9. LESSEE agrees to save harmless LANDOWNER
against any and all claims of loss, damages, liabilities, or other
expense of any nature, character, and kind that may arise out
of, be connected with, or as a result of LESSEE's occupancy
and activities on the leased property.
10. If LESSEE defaults in the performance of any of the con-
ditions or covenants hereof, then such breach shall cause an
immediate termination of this lease and a forfeiture to
LANDOWNER of all rentals prepaid.
LESSEE Space should be pro-
vided for each lessee to sign.)
Figure 7. A sample hunting lease agreement. (For more information and general guidelines for developing a
lease see Marion and Hovis 1985).
clubs and to negotiate and interact with only a
few selected representatives of these clubs. If
followed, this strategy results in fewer total
interactions between hunters and the landowner
and tends to reduce frustration levels. Try to
choose hunters or hunting clubs who will respect
property rights of landowners.
4. Advertise. Advertising in newspapers, sports-
men's magazines and in regional publications will
stimulate interest in leasing a parcel of land and
will often increase the prices you can receive if
different hunting clubs begin to compete for the
same property. For the best net returns from the
land, try to keep advertising costs modest relative
to expected revenues.
5. Develop a hunting lease agreement. Develop
and sign a written hunting lease agreement which
explains legal and liability aspects of the lease
(Figure 7). If possible, involve an attorney who
-N .:* --,'-~-iaw-~_ -
Figure 8. Signs and gates help (a and b) limit access to the hunting property, (c) direct hunters to hunting
location, and (d) remind hunters to respect the environment.
is familiar with the legal aspects of these arran-
6. Encourage safety. Safety in the hunting ex-
perience should be encouraged at all times.
Landowners may be able to promote safety in a
number of ways, such as (a) establishing buffer
zones near buildings and roads; (b) requiring
hunters to have a hunter safety course before
hunting; (c) restricting the number of hunters at
any one time; and (d) restricting the use of
alcoholic beverages, fires, or other hazards.
Costs and Returns
Of the many alternative enterprises for forest
lands with potential for producing income, hunting
lease arrangements involve relatively low cost unless
the land is managed extensively for wildlife or
advertising and marketing costs become extreme.
Usually, access to the land is about all that is
provided by the landowner, and the costs associated
with this are minimal. If major improvements to
facilities are made or if intensive management to
enhance native wildlife populations is begun, the
expenses are often cost-shared with or handled
completely by the hunting club.
Returns or income per acre resulting from hunting
leases are highly variable, and data on these returns
have been difficult to accurately estimate, depending
not only on the factors listed in Step 2 above, but
on the willingness of landowners who operate
hunting leases to share accurate information.
Private landowners often are reluctant to share
information on the magnitude of "extra" income, and
hunting leases are a good example of an enterprise
where survey results must be considered conserva-
tive. A survey was conducted in 15 counties in
Florida in 1984 that indicated an overall average of
$2.29 per acre per year (range of $1.32 to $2.73 per
acre). Currently, average hunting lease prices for
typical land where white-tailed deer are the primary
species hunted are expected to be in the range of
$2.50 to $3.00 per acre. Extremes of average prices
charged in 1987 appeared to be $0.34 per acre paid
to landowners by the Florida Game and Fresh Water
Fish Commission (for lands included in Wildlife
Management Areas) up to a high of $5.74 (range
$3.08 to $8.53) per acre for lands leased for hunting
by Deseret Ranches, Inc. near Melbourne, Florida.
In addition to "per acre" income from hunting leases,
it is common for landowners to gain additional
income from "trophy" animals taken on the property
(up to $500 to 600 for a large white-tailed buck).
Overall, the returns per acre for leased lands in
Florida are lower than those in the adjacent states
of Georgia and Alabama. The potential exists for
substantial increases in Florida in upcoming years as
a result of increased urbanization and recreational-
1. The main advantage is that the landowner may
gain annual, supplemental income with a minimal
investment of time and money. The "annual" na-
ture of this income provides certain "cash-flow"
advantages not offered by many other enterprises
on forest land.
2. Hunting leases restrict access to the land by the
general public; this is considered by some land-
owners to be an advantage. By restricting access
to only a few individuals, the landowner benefits
by knowing who is on the property, and these
hunters frequently develop a vested interest in
caring for and protecting the land. Liability
aspects of "access to trespass" are generally
covered by written agreements (Figure 7) or
insurance policies and are a reduced burden for
3. If the landowner-lessee arrangement exists for
several years, often a sense of trust or even
comradery develops between the two groups and
this certainly has advantages for the landowner.
Oftentimes, hunt clubs are willing and able to
contribute both time and money to improve
facilities and/or enhance wildlife populations.
1. Establishment and maintenance of hunting leases
requires some time and effort, as do most money-
making endeavors. It is desirable for the land-
owner to keep careful records of income and
expenses and to run this enterprise more as a
business than as a hobby.
2. The wildlife resources on the property do not
necessarily improve with lease hunting as over-
exploitation of game species may occur. Also, it
is rare for landowners to significantly alter land
use or improve habitat conditions for wildlife, so
hunting leases are not necessarily in the best
interest of the wildlife resources.
3. From the average hunter's perspective, the
hunting lease system may be pricing many users
out of affording recreation on private lands and
forcing them onto the already over-crowded public
A growing need exists for outdoor recreation in
Florida and public lands are not able to handle the
numbers of people and provide the necessary quality
recreational experiences. Private lands have and will
increasingly continue to be used for recreation;
charging for access to these lands is becoming "the
rule" in many areas of the state and nation. A
recent publication reported that over 50 percent of
private lands in Florida are leased for hunting and
the future trend is for expansion of this activity
(Wiggers and Rootes, 1987). Hunting leases offer
landowners a low-cost alternative enterprise in which
they can annually make an average of $2.00 to $4.00
or more per acre by allowing access to their lands.
The advantages for the landowner seem to over-
shadow the disadvantages; however, wildlife resources
and lower-income hunters do not necessarily benefit
from this system.
James C. E
Longleaf and slash pine trees, greater than six
years old, annually deposit a blanket of needles on
the forest floor. Landowners can substantially
increase their income by selling these needles as pine
straw mulch to nurseries and homeowners. Stanton
(1986) stated that retail sales of North Carolina
longleaf pine straw bales exceeded $10 million in
1985. Also, he reported that sales could be doubled
and tripled if owners are made aware of the finan-
cial returns and markets are expanded into northern
In Florida, 27,633 acres of longleaf pine and
355,671 acres of slash pine were planted in the
three-year period 1985 through 1987. In six years,
these plantings could supply a great deal of pine
straw .and add to the income of the landowners.
Longleaf and slash pine grow well in sandy, acidic
soils with low organic matter in the surface layer.
Most of the soils in central and north Florida are of
this type and have potential for pine straw as a
forestry enterprise. One precaution, however, is
that repeated removal of pinestraw from the forest
floor may reduce the long-term productivity of the
soil and forest stand.
Steps to Establish a Pine Straw Site:
1. Select and prepare a site. Select a site (10
acres minimum) that has been previously used for
crops and is level. If the site has not been used
for a number of years turn and harrow the area
at least two months prior to planting trees.
2. Purchase seedlings. Purchase slash or longleaf
seedlings from a state nursery or other nursery
that has a good reputation for producing pine
3. Plant trees. Prior to planting (in January), mark
rows 10 feet apart and plant trees within the
rows 6 feet apart. Trees may be planted with a
planting bar or machine. However, best results
are obtained by machine planting. (For more
information on planting, see Duryea and Edwards
4. Control weeds. While trees are growing, be sure
to control underbrush and other trees that may
compete with pines and cause problems later with
the raking of the pine straw.
5. Fertilize pine trees. Fertilizer may be used to
aid tree growth; a few studies have shown an
increase in the number and size of needles with
N and P fertilizer. (More information on fertiliza-
tion can be found in Kidder et al. 1987)
6. Rake pine straw. When trees are six or more
years old needles may be raked (Figure 9).
Raking may be done by hand or machine. Prior
to raking, be sure to remove cones, branches,
and hardwood leaves.
7. Bale pine straw. Baling pine straw is labor-
intensive when done by hand (Figure 9). One
person pitchforks the straw into the baler,
another ties the wire that binds the bale and
another stacks. This three-person crew can bale
between 250 and 300 bales per day. If a tractor-
driven baler is used, higher production is realized
because the machine picks up the straw, ties the
bale, and pushes the bale out the side. When this
method is used, production can reach 1,000 bales
per day (Stanton 1986). To increase ease of
storage and handling, use wire for tying bales.
The average bale is 28 to 36 inches long and
weighs from 30 to 60 pounds. Average yield
from a six-year-old site ranges from 50 to 70
bales per acre. From a 15 year old site, average
yield is 200 bales per acre. To obtain the fresh,
non-decomposed needles desired by customers, no
more than two years should pass between rakings.
8. Selling pine straw. Pine straw bales may be sold
on a per-bale basis or through a sealed bid/boun-
dary basis. The latter is recommended for most
landowners since (a) payment is made before
harvesting, (b) competitive bids bring higher
prices, (c) there is better utilization of straw, and
(d) there is the relief of not having to keep up
with every harvested bale (Stanton 1986).
To Rake an Established Pine Stand:
The biggest challenge with raking pine straw in
an established pine stand is weeds. If there is an
abundance of grass, brush, and/or hardwoods it may
be impossible to rake the pine straw. If the under-
story is fairly clean, vegetation control may permit
raking. After controlling vegetation, follow steps 5
through 8 above to rake, bale, and sell pine straw.
Costs and Returns
The following tables give estimated costs (Table 3)
and estimated returns (Table 4) for ten acres:
Table 3. Estimated costs to establish 10 acres in pine straw
Hay baler (used)
Truck for transporting
Hay rake (used)
Table 4. Estimated returns for 10 acres in pine straw
Average Average Total
Age of Yield Price Income
Forest Stand (Bales) ($ per Bale) Per Year
Greater than 6 years 100 $1.50 $1,500
Greater than 15 years 200 $2.00 $4,000
Figure 9. Raking (a) and baling (b) pine straw can be very labor intensive. (c) Bales ready to be loaded into
a truck for shipment.
These costs and returns are based on the land-
owner not owning any equipment to bale the pine
straw or to transport the bales to a store for
marketing. If pine straw is sold to a company which
comes in and bales it and hauls it, the income may
be at least $30 per acre per year from that company.
1. Production of pine straw will provide a source of
income while trees are being grown for timber.
2. Production of pine straw provides an opportunity
to obtain relief from a portion of taxes.
3. By removing weeds and other understory vegeta-
tion, the landowner may improve the aesthetic
appearance of the forest stand.
4. The business is not too time-demanding, especially
if the landowner contracts with a baling company
which will harvest the pine straw.
1. Removal of pine straw may affect the nutrient
balance and reduce the long-term soil productivity
in addition to decreasing the growth of the
2. Wildlife which normally reside in forest stands
may be adversely affected by lack of cover and
Pine straw production has the potential to
supplement the income of landowners during the
years when no income will be received from a timber
harvest. The production of pine straw is a natural
process and requires very little management to
produce an adequate supply for the market. Howev-
er, if the landowner decides to purchase the equip-
ment needed to bale pine straw and transport it to a
market, expenses may exceed income for many years
of pine straw production. The method that provides
the most profit immediately to the landowner is
contracting with a baling service company which will
pay per acre for baling the forest stand. The
landowner should be aware that baling for a long
period of time on a parcel of land may drastically
reduce the long-term soil productivity of that land.
Charles E. Cichra
The number of resident anglers in Florida is
rapidly increasing due to the growing interest in
fishing and Florida's rapidly growing population. In
addition, millions of non-resident anglers vacation in
Florida each year. Fishing pressure on our public
waters is increasing, with many people looking for
alternative places to fish, often closer to home. Fee
fishing -- paying for the right to fish and/or paying
for any fish that are caught -- is becoming popular
among anglers. Many ponds are seldom fished by
their owners; these can be turned into alternative
sources of revenue.
Fee fishing is appealing to a wide variety of
individuals including those anglers who like to fish,
but are limited by time or resources (such as not
owning a boat). Fee fishing can be attractive to
tourists or individuals who fish on an occasional
basis because no license is required to fish in a
private pond that is owned by a single individual.
Owners of ponds which are operated for fee fishing
and which are larger than 20 acres are required to
obtain a permit from the Florida Game and Fresh-
water Fish Commission. The cost is $3.00 per acre
per year. No permit is required for smaller ponds.
There are three basic types of fee fisheries: long-
term leasing, day-leasing, and fish-out operations.
The steps, costs and returns, and advantages and
disadvantages of each type of fishing are described
Long-term leasing generally involves exclusive
fishing rights to a private pond or lake leased on a
long-term basis to an individual or group of in-
dividuals such as is done with hunting leases.
Management of the pond is often the responsibility
of the lessee. Long-term leasing generally involves
quality fishing for largemouth bass or panfish.
Location and aesthetics are often the most important
selling points. Many people fish to relax, to escape
the hustle and bustle of their daily life. They desire
a quality fishing experience.
Unlike hunting leases which require a large
quantity of land to support adequate game, fishing
leases can be rather small in size. One acre of
water can naturally produce 300-400 pounds of
harvestable size fish with proper management. So a
minimum number of acres of water can produce
many hours of productive fishing.
Long-Term Leasing Steps
1. Find an interested individual or group. Indivi-
duals interested in leasing fishing rights are
usually located through advertising or word-of-
mouth. The amount of effort and money that is
expended in locating possible lessees for the
property should depend upon the quality of the
fishery and the location and visual attractiveness
of the pond. These factors will also determine
the value of the lease, for example a trophy bass
fishery, in close proximity to a large metropolitan
area, and at an attractive site will be a prime
enterprise. An adequate effort should be ex-
pended to ensure that the best price is obtained
by the property owner.
2. Develop a lease agreement. A written lease
agreement should be prepared with the help of
an attorney-at-law and a fisheries biologist and
should include legal liability statements. The
lease should include who will have access/fishing
rights to the pond, the length of the lease, the
price per year, under what conditions the lease
can be broken, any fishing limits or regulations
that are to be followed, other privileges that are
included such as camping or swimming, what
management practices will be followed (i.e. aquatic
weed control, lake drawdown, and stocking), who
will provide the cost of management practices
and liability insurance, and what privileges will
be retained by the owner.
Long-Term Leasing Costs and Returns
The major costs to the pond owner will be
locating a suitable lessee and having the lease
prepared. Advertising costs can be highly variable.
The cost of having the lease prepared by an attorney
should be minimal. Any work requested by the
lessees should be paid for by the lessees. Liability
insurance is usually obtained and paid for by the
Returns vary substantially from less than $100
per year to almost $100,000 per year. For example,
a 3,600-acre reservoir in central Florida currently
leases for $70,000 per year. Access is limited to 60
individuals. The amount of the lease increases each
year with the CPI (Consumer Price Index), not to
exceed a 5% increase in any one year. The members
must jointly pay for liability insurance.
Long-Term Leasing Advantages
1. The pond owner needs only to deal with one or
several individuals on an occasional basis, mini-
mizing his labor.
2. The landowner will have someone on the property
looking after it, decreasing problems with theft,
vandalism and fire. This should be particularly
appealing for absentee landowners. Often the
lessee will "post" the land for the landowner
which will limit trespass problems. The pond
owner may also require the lessees to pay for
Long-Term Leasing Disadvantages
1. One disadvantage to this form of fee fishing is
that not all ponds have suitable fisheries, loca-
tions, or aesthetics to interest someone in
desiring to lease the fishing rights.
2. Leased ponds also tend to be larger in size than
those that many land owners have available on
their property, thus restricting this form of fee
fishing to landowners who own large ponds.
Day-leasing involves collecting a daily use fee
from the fisherman. Pond management is the
responsibility of the operator. Ponds of at least an
acre in surface area, but commonly closer to 5 to 10
acres in size are good prospects for day-leasing.
Most are located in close proximity to a public road,
having good visibility to individuals travelling by.
Harvest by fishermen relies primarily on natural
production of the pond. Most fishing is for species
such as the largemouth bass, bluegill (bream), redear
sunfish (shellcrackers), and crappie (speckled perch).
Channel catfish can be supplementally stocked to
attract fishermen. Much of the fishing pressure is
in the spring of the year when these species are
close to shore and easily caught.
An aesthetically pleasing pond or one that offers
good fishing tends to attract the interest of local
fishermen. Many fishermen will ask the landowner
for the right to fish such a pond, while others may
trespass to gain access. Such an "attractive nuisan-
ce" may be considered a liability, but such a situa-
tion can be turned into an alternative source of
income. Instead of allowing free fishing for all, a
pond owner can charge a nominal fee for a day of
fishing. Hence, the term "day-leasing." Family and
friends can still be allowed free access to the pond.
A number of ponds, particularly in north Florida are
-I I .Qv
Figure 10. Deposit box used to collect fees at a
day-lease fishing operation.
operated in such a manner. Ponds located near
travel trailer parks and overnight camping areas may
attract a number of non-resident fishermen.
Day-Leasing -- Steps
1. Advertise. Advertisement of such an operation
can be as simple as by word of mouth. This
method will generally restrict use to local fisher-
men, and thus a small group of anglers will use
the pond and a small income will likewise result.
Larger numbers of fishermen can be attracted by
posting an attractive sign along the roadside.
2. Make collection of fees simple. Location of a
day-lease pond should be close to the manager's
residence to assure that all anglers pay the
entrance fee. The simplest way to collect the
entrance fee is to have the fishermen drop it off
in a deposit box as they enter the property
(Figure 10). This reduces the time expended by
the manager in collecting fees. This method
works well when dealing with small numbers of
local anglers who can be trusted.
3. Regulate entrance to the pond. One way to
regulate access to the pond is to require anglers
to check in with the manager before going to the
pond. This can sometimes prove to be incon-
venient when it disrupts work or family life.
Limiting the hours of operation and even the
seasons of the year when the pond is fished can
relieve some of this inconvenience. Another
method of keeping track of those who use the
pond is to allow anglers open access to the pond.
The manager can then simply stop by the pond on
an occasional basis to collect an entrance fee. If
large numbers of anglers frequent the pond, a
dated receipt, ticket, or permit could be given to
those who have paid. This could be obtained
directly from the manager or through a nearby
store that could retain a portion of the fees as a
handling charge. This last method greatly simpli-
fies knowing who has or has not paid the entra-
4. Maintain the pond site. An aesthetically appeal-
ing pond site helps attract users. The site must
be kept clean of litter. Trash containers should
be located on-site and emptied regularly to ensure
their use by patrons. Any litter on the ground
must be picked up. Added features such as
pavilions, a picnic area with tables, and shade
trees will help increase the attractiveness of the
site. Minimal toilet facilities are encouraged, but
are usually not supplied. Access to the water
should be maintained by mowing the banks and
managing aquatic vegetation.
Day-Leasing -- Costs and Returns
The costs of maintaining a day-leasing enterprise
are intermediate to those of long-term leasing and
operating a fish-out enterprise. One major cost is
collecting the daily use fee or checking fishermen
for current permits. Moderate travel expenses may
incur if the pond is remotely located. Another major
cost is liability insurance. Current costs for such
insurance run from $350 to $1500 per year for $2 to
$3 million of insurance.
Management input into the pond is usually
minimal because the pond owner can rely upon the
natural production and carrying capacity of the pond
to produce the fish that are harvested. Supplemental
stocking can increase the catch by the anglers and
their interest in returning to the pond. The cost
of such a program varies with the quantity and cost
of the fish stocked. Returns from a stocking
program can far outweigh its cost. Additional costs
that may be incurred are those associated with
properly managing the pond for fishing. These
include such practices as aquatic weed control,
fertilization, liming, and supplemental feeding.
Daily fees in Florida generally range from $2.00
to $7.00 per day for adults for bass/bream ponds, but
can go as high as $50.00 per day for ponds with
quality bass fishing. Children should be accompanied
by an adult and are often admitted free or at,half of
the adult fee. Senior citizens are sometimes given a
discounted price. Several individuals in north Florida
are managing their large (>50 acres) ponds for
"trophy bass" fishing. Catching a single bass of 10
pounds or larger may net the pond-owner $1000.
Currently, it is illegal to sell black bass; however,
fishermen may be charged for the right to fish for
1. One advantage of a day-leasing operation over
that of a long-term lease is that in a day-leasing
operation no long-term commitment is made,
allowing the pond owner to be more flexible in
the use of the pond.
2. The day-lease relies on natural fish production
and can have minimal input of time and expendi-
tures on the part of the manager -- a distinct
advantage over that of a fish-out operation.
Day-Leasing -- Disadvantages
1. Day-leasing requires more time on the part of the
pond owner than is required in long-term leasing
of a pond. Time must be spent policing the pond
area for litter and for collecting the access fee.
"Fish-out", "put and take", or "pay by the pound"
fisheries involve stocking a pond with fish and then
charging the angler for each fish that is caught.
Consequently, fish populations in this type of
operation must be maintained at artificially high
levels by regular stocking of catchable-size fish,
usually channel catfish. Fish-out ponds involve the
highest level of management, the highest costs, and
potentially the highest returns to the pond owner of
any type of fee fishing enterprise. They provide the
excitement and challenge of fishing with improved
chances of catching fish. Fish-out ponds are
appealing to families with small children and single-
parent families because of the likelihood of catching
fish. They can be an excellent place to take some-
one who is learning to fish because of the ease of
Fish-Out Ponds -- Steps
1. Stock pond. Catchable-size fish are stocked at
densities well above the standing stock which
would be present in the pond by natural produc-
tion. Anglers are allowed to fish the pond for
the stocked fish. Currently, the only fish that is
available in quantity for use in fish-out ponds in
Florida is the channel catfish. They can be
purchased locally or out-of-state. Other species
are difficult to obtain in abundance or do not
survive hauling and stocking. The tilapia or Nile
perch would make an excellent hot weather fish,
but this species can only be possessed in the
state by special permit of the Florida Game and
Fresh Water Fish Commission.
2. Collect fee. A minimal entrance fee is usually
charged. An additional charge is then paid for
any fish that are caught. Price is based either
on the number or weight of fish in the angler's
3. Maintain two ponds. A minimum of two ponds
should be at the site. This allows the fishermen
to select the pond where they would like to fish.
Having more than one pond will allow the fishery
to continue in operation should a disease outbreak
occur in one of the ponds. When the fish become
"smart", they can be removed from the pond with
a net seinedd) and placed into another pond to
stimulate them to bite.
4. Establish practically sized ponds. Ponds should
ideally be of a variety of shapes and sizes to give
the fishermen the feeling of a natural setting
(Figure 11). The pond bottoms should be smooth
and the margins not so irregular as to prevent
the ponds from effectively being seined. The
ponds should be about one half acre in size. This
will accommodate a fairly large number of people
who will be able to "reach" most of the fish, but
will be small enough to allow seining.
5. Control depth of the ponds. Ponds should be
about 4 to 5 feet in depth. This will allow easy
seining of the ponds and good survival of stocked
fish. If water level in the ponds fluctuates, this
should be the minimum depth encountered during
the year. Well water can be supplied to maintain
water level and water quality.
6. Have an alternative use for non-biting fish. One
problem with catfish fish-out ponds is that only
about 60-70% of the fish are caught before fishing
success drops off to less than a profitable margin.
You must, therefore, have a market for those fish
that will not bite the hook. These fish can be
seined from the pond and placed into live tanks
and sold to individuals who do not want to fish
or to those who do not catch enough fish to
meet their needs. You must manage your inven-
tory and keep the fish flowing through the
operation as fast as possible. You may have to
arrange for some restaurant outlets to market
these fish. These extra fish will not result in
much profit, and may even cause a net loss, but
Figure 11. Fish-out operation showing ponds, gras-
sed levies, picnic table and shade pavilion.
you must get rid of them in order to keep the
best biting fish in large enough quantities in the
7. Collect dead fish. Dead fish should be collected
from around the perimeter of the ponds each
morning. Records of their weight should be kept,
so that this loss can be recorded.
8. Promote fishing during the best seasons. Spring
(February through May) is usually the best sales
period of the year in Florida. People have the
urge to fish, and catfish are generally most
willing to bite during this time. Sales as high as
3000 pounds per week have been recorded during
the spring at fish-out operations in Florida
(Figure 12). Both anglers and fish slow down in
the heat of the summer. An upswing in sales will
occur in the autumn as temperatures begin to
cool. Florida has an advantage over other states
to the north in that catfish will often bite during
the winter, especially if it is mild. Fish-out
operations are generally open on weekends, and
some are open seven days a week. Daylight hours
are common, but many remain open after dark,
especially on weekends.
9. Provide other services. A shaded area, picnic
tables, food and beverages, bait, tackle, rental
equipment, ice, and a fish cleaning service all
improve the business opportunity and customer
12. A satisfied angler witn nis caicn or
channel catfish taken from a fish-out
10. Advertise. Advertising does not have to be limited
to word-of-mouth, but can include billboards,
printed fliers, newspaper advertisements, and
even radio and television commercials. Prizes can
be given to anglers who catch extremely large
fish or specially tagged fish.
Fish-Out Ponds -- Costs and Returns
It is difficult to determine costs of operating
fish-out ponds because many management alternatives
are available. The major expenditure will be for
fish. Live catfish can be purchased in Florida for
$0.75 to $1.10 per pound. An entry fee of $1.00 or
more per person should be charged. The price per
pound of fish caught varies from $1.25 to $2.00 per
pound live weight. Another major cost is liability
Labor is a major expenditure because someone
must be at the site during all hours of operation to
rent and sell concessions, to weigh fish and collect
the appropriate fees, to keep the facilities free of
litter, and to minimize the loss of fish by theft.
Other costs include construction of an office and
concession area and toilet facilities, fencing or
natural barriers to keep trespassers out and fish in,
fish feed, and monitoring and maintaining proper
The return from a fish-out operation is limited
only by the number of pounds of fish that can be
sold. A 7-acre fish-out operation located in Escam-
bia County, Florida has sales as high as 80,000
pounds per year. Channel catfish are obtained at
$0.75 per pound delivered and sold for $1.35 per
pound live weight. Of these, 16% are sold out of
holding tanks. This operation has 11 small ponds.
If fish are cleaned on the premises, county health
department requirements should be followed. This
usually requires a triple stainless steel sink with
hot running water to be on the premises. Fish
cleaning service runs around $0.30 per pound live
Several operators have indicated that they make
more money from selling drinks, food, bait, and
tackle than from the fish that are sold.
Fish-Out Ponds -- Advantages
1. A distinct advantage of fish-out operations is in
pond size. Small ponds are quite amenable to
such operations. Ponds can also be located within
city limits and at major highway intersections.
2. Fishing does not have to rely on natural produc-
tion, but upon artificially maintained populations.
Fish-Out Ponds -- Disadvantages
1. Fish-out operators must have a heavy commitment
to public relations, marketing, promoting, and a
sensitivity to public wants and behavior. Such
operations need to be near large population
centers and highly visible to the public. A lot of
time is required on the part of the manager, who
must deal with "people problems" such as litter
Fishing has a different meaning for different
people. Fee fishing is a means through which
Florida pond owners can supply fishing opportunities
to the increasing number of anglers in the state and
simultaneously use an under-utilized resource for
economic gain. Fee fishing is both a form of
entertainment and a source of fresh fish for the
Fee fishing operations in Florida are rapidly
increasing in number, but vary substantially in their
success. Little is known as to why this variation
occurs and what attracts anglers to these facilities.
Moderate to large-size ponds with controlled access
are best suited for long-term leasing, while small to
moderate-size ponds can be day-leased or stocked
and used in fish-out operations. Pond construction
costs are not listed above and can be substantial.
Fee fishing can be a source of additional income,
but the most important thing to remember about fee
fishing is that it involves people management more
than fish management. If an individual does not
want to take the time to deal with people, yet wants
to use his pond as a source of revenue, then he or
she would be best advised to lease it on a long-term
basis to minimize the amount of contact with people.
For additional information on fee fishing and
pond management, contact your local county agricul-
tural extension agent, your county Soil Conservation
Service agent, or the nearest regional office of the
Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission.
Local phone numbers for these agencies are listed in
the government section of your phone book.
Firewood businesses are viable alternatives in
many Florida counties, especially in areas adjacent to
suburban and urban population centers. If you
already own land with trees on it, the harvesting
and marketing of firewood can bring extra income,
as well as provide an opportunity to improve your
woodland management. If you have a commercial
timber harvest planned, firewood may also be avail-
able in the tops and branches left on site.
Tree species are critical in determining the price
of firewood. Many people are reluctant to burn pine
due to the impression that it generates large amounts
of creosote. Any wood produces this flammable
substance if not burned properly and you should be
able to successfully market mixed loads of hardwood
and pine, especially if the hardwoods dominate.
Oaks, hickory, dogwood, ash, beech, red maple,
more logs Le
Cord 8' .v
sycamore and cherry are all woods of high to
medium density and will burn well (For information
on wood characteristics see Flinchum 1980).
1. Find and determine your wood supply. Deter-
mine whether or not you have sufficient wood on
your property or property that you might lease to
result in a successful business. A reasonably
productive hardwood site in Florida can produce
about two cords of wood per year on a sustained
basis -- with enough wood for annual harvests
and to leave trees growing for other uses (Figure
2. Consider safety first. Firewood can be harvested
with a minimum of equipment, but to make the
venture economical, investment in safety equip-
Face cord ---
Figure 13. Two different measurements of firewood include a cord and a face cord.
ment is essential. A chainsaw, pickup truck and
axe or maul and wedge for splitting are the
essentials for work. Steel-toed boots, a hardhat
with screen, strong gloves and chaps are the
minimum required for safety.
3. Maintain your chainsaw in good working con-
dition. Dull saws are a safety hazard as well as a
drag on productivity.
4. Select trees to be cut. Properly chosen trees will
improve the value and visual quality of your
woodland. Poor selection may degrade your
forestland value. (See Flinchum 1981, for advice
on tree selection).
5. Fell and cut your trees properly. If you cut
birch, beech, maple, cherry or sweetgum leave
the branches on until the leaves are dried out.
This will speed up drying of these species. Oaks,
ash and most other species may be limbed im-
mediately following felling. Be sure to cut wood
to a length of approximately 18" as this will fit
most fireplaces and woodstoves. (See Flinchum
1980 for information on gathering, preparing and
6. Season wood properly. In Florida, wood must be
seasoned (air dried) for a minimum of 6 to 8
months prior to burning. To enhance drying, and
prevent rot and insect damage, stack wood at
least six inches above the ground. Cover the top
of each stack and leave plenty of space for air to
flow between logs. The smaller the wood is cut,
the faster it will dry, so split wood before
7. Advertise. Firewood has been successfully
marketed by all of the following means: newspaper
ads, yellow pages listings, fliers on doorknobs in
suburban neighborhoods, signs on roadsides, and
door-to-door sales. If you add an extra market-
ing tool (free lighterwood, information on how to
burn wood efficiently, free or low cost delivery
and/or stacking), you may gain a competitive
edge. In urban areas, packaging wood in small
bundles for apartment-dwelling residents to
purchase at grocery or convenience stores can be
8. Consider selling "cut-your-own" firewood.While
this will eliminate your investment in time, labor
and materials, you must consider possible liability
if someone is injured while cutting on your
Costs and Returns
If you own your land, chainsaw, and truck, then
fuel, safety equipment and time are your only costs.
If you do not own the basic equipment there is a
substantial investment involved. You may expect to
cut about 1/2 cord of wood from the trunk and
branches of a tree with a 12-14 inch base. An acre
of good hardwood land should be able to produce
about 2 cords of wood per year.
Your returns will vary regionally and locally and
according to your marketing techniques and skills.
Current prices vary from $80 to $115 per standard
cord (seasoned, delivered and stacked) in Alachua
County to $115 to $125 unstackedd) in St. Petersburg.
Some businesses in the Tampa Bay area are charging
$125 to $150 per cord if the buyer picks it up and
$160 to $180 delivered (not stacked). Near Tallahas-
see seasoned oak is selling for $90 to $115 per cord.
In rural areas prices will generally be lower, but
unseasonably cool weather or rises in fuel-oil cost
generally result in increases in fuelwood prices.
Measures of wood vary. Ethical business persons
will advertise full (or standard) cords or face cords
depending on what they sell.
1. Firewood sales can not only increase your income,
but permit you to remove dead, crowded or poorly
formed trees which are competing with potentially
valuable timber trees.
2. Fuelwood harvests can be conducted throughout
the year during slack seasons of other ventures.
3. Firewood can be stockpiled for several years so
its prices are not subject to market fluctuations
as are perishable crops.
4. There are abundant supplies of hardwoods in many
stands which are often considered weeds among
the highly preferred pine timber species. Removal
of some of these trees can increase ease of pine
harvest in the future without adversely affecting
1. If you have small holdings and cannot provide
continuous supplies, you may still have trouble
developing a market.
2. Firewood is a labor-intensive business.
3. Unsafe cutting and splitting techniques can result
in serious injury or death.
Firewood production and marketing can provide a
steady supplement to income of many forest lan-
downers in Florida. However, unless there are large
acreages involved, it is unlikely that Floridians
could depend on a firewood business as a sole
income. A well-devised forest management plan for
your land should provide a marketable supply if you
own eight acres or more. Firewood production
requires substantial work and should not be under-
taken without planning for markets, returns on your
investment, and the impact on your forest land.
The advantages of firewood production in terms
of management benefits may outweigh the monetary
returns in the early stages of the business, but after
becoming an established business, firewood production
can be a viable source of supplemental income.
Doig, H. E. 1986. The importance of private lands to recreation.
Pages 7-10 In: Recreation on Private Lands: Issues and
Opportunities. Washington, D.C.
Duryea, M. L. and J. C. Edwards. 1987. Planting southern pines.
Florida Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, University of
Florida. Circular 767. 14 p.
Tanner, G. W. and C. A. Gates. (In Press). Survey results of grazing
leases in Florida, 1984. Florida Cooperative Extension Service,
IFAS, Wildlife and Range Sciences Circular 781. University of
Kidder, G., N. B. Comerford and A. V. Mollitor. 1987. Fertilization
of slash pine plantations. Florida Cooperative Extension Service,
IFAS, University of Florida, Gainesville. Circular 735. 5 p.
Marion, W. R., and J. A. Hovis. 1985. Developing a hunting lease in
Florida. Florida Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, Wildlife
and Range Sciences Fact Sheet WRS-1. University of Florida,
Gainesville. 3 p.
Stanton, W.M. 1986. Longleaf pine straw production. Woodland
Owner Notes. North Carolina Agriculture Extension Service.
Raleigh, North Carolina. No. 18. 4 p.
Wiggers, E. P., and W. Rootes. (1987). Lease hunting: Views of the
nation's wildlife agencies. Trans. North Amer. Wildl. Nat. Resour.
Additional Reading -- for More Information
Forest Management and Regeneration
Duryea, M. L. 1987. Forest regeneration methods: Natural
regeneration, direct seeding, and planting. Florida
Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, University of Florida.
Circular 759. 10 p.
Duryea, M. L. and J. C. Edwards. 1987. Planting southern
pines. Florida Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS,
University of Florida. Circular 767. 14 p.
Duryea, M. L., J. C. Edwards, D. M. Flinchum, and C. L.
Taylor. 1987. Reforestation: Extension programs motivate
Florida landowners to plant trees. Florida Cooperative
Extension Service. IFAS Circular 783. University of
Florida, Gainesville. 17 p.
Eason, M. A. and D. M. Flinchum. 1984. A guide for comparing
returns from forestry investments to annual crops. Florida
Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Circular 592.
Jack, S., K Munson, and D. M. Flinchum. 1984. Site prepara-
tion: alternatives for plantation establishment. Florida
Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, University of Florida.
Forest Resources and Conservation Fact Sheet FRC-37. 4 p.
Kidder, G., N. B. Comerford, and A. V. Mollitor. 1987.
Fertilization of slash pine plantations. Florida Cooperative
Extension Service, IFAS, University of Florida, Gainesville.
Circular 735. 5 p.
Munson, K. R. 1984. Forest soils of Florida: Useful groupings
for forestry purposes. Florida Cooperative Extension
Service, IFAS, Forest Resources and Conservation Fact
Sheet, FRC-33. University of Florida, Gainesville. 4 p.
Tanner, G. W. 1983. Determining grazing capacity for native
range. Florida Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, Wildlife
and Range Sciences Circular 781. University of Florida,
Tanner, G. W. and C. E. Lewis. 1984. Alternative tree spacings
for wood and forage production in Florida. Florida
Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, Forest Resources and
Conservation Fact Sheet, FRC-36. University of Florida,
Gainesville. 2 p.
Tanner, G. W. and M. R. Werner. 1985. Developing a grazing
lease in Florida. Florida Cooperative Extension Service,
IFAS, Wildlife and Range Sciences Fact Sheet, FRC-31.
University of Florida, Gainesville. 4 p.
Tanner, G. W. and C. A. Gates. (In Press). Survey results of
grazing leases in Florida, 1984. Florida Cooperative
Extension Service, IFAS, Wildlife and Range Sciences
Circular 781. University of Florida, Gainesville.
Extension Service, IFAS, Wildlife and Range Sciences
Circular 781. University of Florida, Gainesville.
Edwards, J. C. and L Carter. 1985. Growing Christmas trees:
Florida A & M University Demonstration Project. Florida
Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, Florida A & M
University, University of Florida. Circular 646. 15 p.
Rockwood, D. L. 1977. Sand pine -- a potential Christmas tree.
Florida Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, University of
Florida, Gainesville.Forestry Report No. 77-9. 3 p.
Webb, R. S. 1984. Christmas tree pest management in Florida.
Florida Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, University of
Florida. Forest Resources and Conservation Fact Sheet
Webb, R. S. 1986. Christmas trees: planting and shearing for a
profitable harvest. Florida Cooperative Extension Service,
IFAS, University of Florida. Forestry Fact Sheet FOR-39.
Marion, W. R., and J. A. Hovis. 1985. Developing a hunting
lease in Florida. Florida Cooperative Extension Service,
IFAS, Wildlife and Range Sciences Fact Sheet WRS-L
University of Florida, Gainesville. 3 p.
Marion, W. R., and M. Werner. 1986. Management of pine
forests for selected wildlife in Florida. Florida Cooperative
Extension Service, IFAS, Wildlife and Range Sciences
Circular 706. University of Florida, Gainesville. 19 p.
Marion, W. R. and C. A. Gates. (1988). Hunting lease arrange-
ments in Florida and the Southeast. Florida Cooperative
Extension Service, IFAS, Wildlife and Range Sciences
Circular 793. University of Florida, Gainesville. 19p.
Flinchum, D. M. 1980. Selecting firewood. Florida Cooperative
Extension Service, IFAS, Forest Resources and Conservation
Fact Sheet, FRC-13. University of Florida, Gainesville. 2 p.
Flinchum, D. M. 1981. Gathering, preparing, and storing
firewood. Florida Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS,
Forest Resources and Conservation Fact Sheet, FRC-16.
University of Florida, Gainesville. 4 p.
Flinchum, D. M. 1981. Managing your forest landscape for
firewood. Florida Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS,
Forest Resources and Conservation Fact Sheet, FRC-19.
University of Florida, Gainesville. 4 p.
This public document was produced at a cost of $2,764.80, or a cost of 67 cents per copy to provide owners
of forest land in Florida with information about alternative enterprises. 8-4.1M-88
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL
SCIENCES, K. R. Tefertlller, director, In cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture, publishesthis Infor-
mation to further the purpose of the May 8 and June 30, 1914 Acts of Congress; and is authorized to provide research, educa-
tlonal Information and other services only to Individuals and Institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex or
national origin. Single copies of Extension publications (excluding 4-H and Youth publications) are available free to Florida
residents from County Extension Offices. Information on bulk rates or copies for out-of-state purchasers is available from
C. M. Hinton, Publications Distribution Center, IFAS Building 664, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611. Before publicizing this
publication, editors should contact this address to determine availability.