Back to Back to Back to
Back to Florida Forestry Information
Extension Home Page Newsletter Index Extension Publications
The Florida Forest Steward
A Quarterly Newsletter for Florida Landowners and Resource Professionals
Volume 5, No. 3
Wildfires Ravage Northeast Florida
Fire-related Extension Publications
Stewardship of Longleaf Forests
Lookiniqfor Stewardship Forest
Landowner of the Year -
Timber Price Update
Florida Forestry Website
Stewardship Landowner Survey
Pine Straw Workshops
A University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service and Florida Division of Forestry joint project:
Chris Latt (editor), School of Forest Resources & Conservation, UF, P.O. Box 110410, Gainesville, FL
32611-0410, (352) 846-2375 or CRLA ti,,n '.ifas.ufl.edu
Alan Long (co-editor), School of Forest Resources & Conservation, UF, (352) 846-0891 or AJL@gnv.ifas.
Charles Marcus (co-editor), Florida Division ofForestry, 3125 Conner Blvd, Tallahassee, FL 32699-1650,
(850) 414-9907 or marcus@doacs. state.fl. us
.- .. -UNIVERSITY OF
Cooperative Extension Service
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Wildfires Ravage Northeast Florida
It is much more pleasant to sit here this afternoon and write this article than it was to be involved
in what we were doing during June and July. If you have driven lately on 1-95 between
Titusville and Jacksonville, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, you should take the
opportunity to view some of the most extensive wildfire damage in the history of the State of
Florida. Keep in mind that these fires and the resulting smoke closed 150 miles of 1-95 a month
ago, as well as several expanses of US 1, State Road 40, and other major highways on the East
No one would have anticipated a fire season of this magnitude back in February, when flooding
from El Nifio was a more immediate concern. Then the rain stopped, everywhere. By mid-June,
statewide drought indices were almost as high as those found in deserts. Then the dry cold fronts
arrived, bringing with them intense lightning activity. In some areas, arsonists also added
significantly to the fire problem.
By the time the rains returned in mid-July, almost 500,000 acres had burned. Volusia County
suffered the worst damage, with over 140,000 acres burned. The largest fire exceeded 40,000
acres. Other major fires occurred in Flagler County, which had to be totally evacuated for three
days; Brevard County, where a large fire also caused evacuations and threatened the City of
Titusville; and the San Pedro Bay in Taylor and Lafayette Counties.
It cost $133 million to suppress these fires. The most aircraft ever deployed in the history of the
US Forest Service were sent to Florida, and over 7000 individuals, including personnel and
equipment from 45 states and Russia, participated in the fire-fighting efforts.
The Division of Forestry is taking steps to handle similar situations in the future. The Division
has requested additional fire suppression equipment and personnel from the legislature. Outdoor
burning regulations are also being reviewed to make it easier for landowners to conduct
prescribed burning. Private landowners who had their timber destroyed may be able to receive
financial assistance to replant, as well as access to additional sources of seedlings.
If you have suffered recent wildfire damage and need assistance with either salvage or
replanting, contact your local County Forester.
Fire-related Extension Publications
Two recent extension articles, each 2- to 3-pages long, were written in response to the
Summer's fire outbreaks, and are now available from your County Extension Office and
from the SFRC web site located at:
A brief synopsis of each is provided below.
Risk Assessment for Burned Timber: Guidelines for Landowners
Many of the trees that were damaged by recent fires will die or succumb to pine beetle
attacks. Landowners need to assess potential tree mortality and harvest the most severely
damaged trees first. Some general rules-of-thumb can guide landowners in this decision:
Trees with greater than 50% stem char and
total crown scorch are at high risk of death
or beetle attack.
Trees with less than 50% stem char are at
Because of its fire resistance, longleaf pine
is not at high risk until stem char reaches
If roots are exposed by fire and the bark is
burned off, the tree is at high risk.
For each category of wood products, there is a different time frame for getting burned
timber to market. Chip-n-saw has a time frame of only 5 to 8 weeks; saw timber and ply
logs may have up to 3 months; and pulpwood up to 6 months. The amount of time that
passes before your fire-damaged trees lose market value will depend on the severity of
damage and weather conditions until harvest. It is quite possible that your trees will lose
value in less time than stated above.
County foresters, forestry consulting firms, and consultants from industry landowner
assistance programs may be able to assist you in assessing timber damage.
Understanding Tax Deductionsfor Timber Losses
If your timber has been destroyed, you may be eligible to deduct the loss on your federal
income tax return. There are two types of losses from natural events: (1) casualty losses are
sudden, unexpected, and unusual-as from fire or storms, (2) non-casualty losses are
gradual, unexpected, and unusual-as from insect attack, drought, or disease. Deductions
for both types of losses are available to owners who hold timber to produce income. The
loss must be physical in nature and caused by an identifiable event or combination of
events that has run its course. A deduction is allowed only if the damage renders timber
unfit for use.
Loss deductions are limited to your adjusted basis in the timber destroyed, minus any
insurance reimbursement or compensation received from salvage operations. Basis is the
amount of money you have invested in the timber-producing activity, adjusted for credits
and deductions taken, or additional investments made. Tax law allows you to recover this
investment, but does not act as insurance on your timber.
To determine your loss deduction, follow these three steps:
1) Determine the volume of timber destroyed
(or acres for pre-merchantable trees).
2) Calculate the depletion unit:
Adjusted Basis + Total Timber Volume.
3) Multiply the depletion unit by the volume
(or acres) destroyed.
Example: If your land has 200 MBF (thousand board feet) of sawtimber, and your adjusted
basis is $4000, and fire destroys 25 MBF, your loss deduction is: ($4000 + 200 MBF) x 25
MBF = $500, even though the value of destroyed timber was much higher.
You are obligated to make a genuine effort to sell salvageable timber. If the proceeds from
a sale or other reimbursement (e.g., insurance) exceed your adjusted basis in the timber,
you will have a taxable gain rather than a loss deduction.
Stewardship of Longleaf Forests
After this summer's fire outbreaks, it seems appropriate to write about the Southeast's most fire-
tolerant pine species-longleaf pine. Longleaf pine forests once covered up to 90 million acres
on the Southeast's coastal plain and adjacent areas. This species was part of the largest forest
community in North America, with a natural range extending from southeastern Virginia to
central Florida, and westward to east Texas. Today less than 3 million acres of longleaf forest
remain, of which approximately 950,000 acres are in Florida. The decline can be attributed to
land clearing for agriculture and development, the replacement of harvested longleaf stands with
faster-growing loblolly and slash pine, and fire suppression.
Longleaf pine ecosystems evolved in the presence of frequent fires. The longleaf forests not only
survived the fires-which may have occurred every 3 to 5 years-but benefitted from them. The
fires eliminated competing hardwoods, exposed mineral soil for good germination of longleaf
seeds, and maintained the vast expanses of open, park-like longleaf forest that welcomed early
settlers. In addition, many of the plant species that occur within this community are fire
dependent, requiring periodic fire to flower and produce seed.
Longleaf pines have evolved a number of physical adaptations to tolerate fire. In a paper
presented at the First Longleaf Alliance Conference, U.S. Forest Service researcher, Dale Wade,
commented on longleafs fire adaptations, "The roots, bole and crown all possess traits that, in
combination, make longleaf pine one of the most fire resistant trees on our planet."
These traits include:
a juvenile grass stage during which the
seedling shows little height growth, but
develops a long, heavy taproot enabling it
to survive frequent dry spells that eliminate
adequate food reserves stored in the thick
root collar and taproot so that seedling
height growth, when it begins, will be fast
enough to place terminal buds above fires;
enormous buds that help keep cell tempera-
tures below the lethal threshold;
tufts of needles concentrated at the branch
tips, which shield the buds; and
thick bark that protects the underlying
cambium layer (cells that produce living
wood and bark) from heat once groundline
stem diameter exceeds 1/2 inches.
Last year, the Longleaf Alliance published, Stewardship of Longleaf Pine Forests: A Guide for
Landowners, to provide private landowners with the information they need to manage longleaf
pine forests. The book covers a range of management topics, and also provides two pages of
suggested readings, a long list of Federal, State, and private sources of assistance, and a state-by-
state listing of sources for longleaf pine seedlings. The present article contains a mere sampling
of the wealth of information contained in this book.
Longleaf forests occur on a range of sites, from dry to seasonally wet. Most existing coastal plain
longleaf forests fall into one of four categories: Sandhills (the driest sites), Flatwoods (sites with
intermediate moisture conditions), Savannahs (the wettest longleaf sites), and Rolling Mesic
Hills (characterized by fine- textured soils and subsoils with a high clay content). The typical
plant species, in addition to longleaf pine, vary from category to category, as do the rare,
threatened and endangered species of plants and animals. Some longleaf sites may contain over
forty different plant species per square meter, making these forests some of the most diverse
plant communities in North America.
Some landowners are reluctant to plant longleaf pine because of its reputation of being hard to
regenerate and a slow grower in its early years. Research has now demonstrated, however, that if
longleaf seedlings are properly handled and planted, their survival and growth are comparable to
other southern pine species on most sites.
Longleaf pine seedlings remain in the grass stage until the root collar diameter (RCD) reaches
one inch. Once this size is attained, seedlings begin rapid height growth. To minimize the time
required to achieve a 1-inch RCD, follow these recommendations:
* Adequately control competing vegetation
during site preparation and during the spring
after planting. This is especially important on
* Buy seedlings that have RCDs between 0.3
and 0.6 inches, and a stout tap root 8 to 10
inches long, with numerous well-developed
* Minimize exposure of roots to the air.
* Plant seedlings as soon as possible after
receiving them, within 3 days at least.
* Plant seedlings so that root collars will be
slightly below (no more than 12 inch) the
settled soil surface 2 to 3 months after
* Plant seedlings between mid-December and
March 1, preferably in the early part of this
period. Don't plant during periods of low
soil moisture or dry weather, and when
strong cold fronts are passing through.
Containerized seedlings have shown better survival and growth than bareroot seedlings, have
greater tolerance to herbicides, and can be used to extend the planting season and replant partial
regeneration failures. The main disadvantage of containerized seedlings is that they can cost
more than three times as much as bareroot seedlings. Containerized seedlings need to be planted
when there is adequate soil moisture.
Direct seeding is less costly than planting, but regeneration failures can occur from inadequate
control of competing vegetation, low seeding rates, seeding at the wrong time, using seeds not
treated with bird and rodent repellent, or poor weather conditions. The following tips will help
you achieve regeneration success with direct seeding:
* Avoid sites that are too wet, too dry, or
subject to erosion. The best sites will have
soils of medium moisture-holding capacity
on gentle slopes.
* Longleaf pine seeds germinate naturally
during October and November, so this is
usually the best time for direct seeding.
* Use only the best quality seed, purchased
from a reputable dealer. Buy seeds treated
with bird and rodent repellent.
* Use prescribed burs or other site preparation
techniques 3 to 6 months before seeding to
expose mineral soil.
The major benefits of direct seeding are speed and cost. The disadvantages are less control over
spacing and density, and a lengthy grass stage before height growth begins.
Landowners who already have longleaf pine stands can naturally regenerate them by using the
shelterwood system. In the shelterwood system, overstory trees are harvested in a series of cuts
spaced several years apart, retaining the best quality trees as a seed source. Success depends on
* Adequate seed supply. A thinning about 10 years before the final harvest provides space for the
growth of the seed trees. A second thinning about 5 years before final harvest (the seed-cut)
provides favorable conditions for the development of new seedlings. When 3000 to 6000
seedlings per acre are present, seed trees can be harvested.
* Receptive seedbed. Three to six months before seedfall, use a prescribed bum or a mechanical
treatment, such as chopping, to expose mineral soil and create a receptive seedbed for longleaf
* Minimum vegetative competition. Remove competing woody vegetation, preferably before the
seed-cut, by harvesting merchantable trees and using herbicides, prescribed bums or other
treatments. The stand is considered established once 1000 to 1500 seedlings per acre have started
height growth and are free of overhead competition.
* Ample soil moisture. After removing competing vegetation, there is little else you can do to
ensure adequate soil moisture.
Longleaf pine is generally more resistant than other southern pine species to insect and disease
attack, including attacks by the southern pine beetle. The best defense against insect attacks is
good stand management, for example, periodic thinnings and avoidance of tree damage during
logging and prescribed burs.
Brown-spot needle blight, a fungal disease which attacks the needles of seedlings in the grass
stage, can be very destructive. It delays the start of height growth and may kill seedlings. One
control option is to dip seedling roots in benomyl fungicide before planting. In established
seedling stands, prescribed fire is the only practical means of control. Be sure to monitor seedling
stands for this disease.
Longleaf pine is an excellent species for multiple-use forest management.
* It provides a good mix of wood products.
* It is the most insect and disease resistant
pine species in the South.
* The canopy develops slowly, so understory
plants that benefit wildlife can be main-
tained for relatively long periods.
* Fire can be introduced early in stand devel-
opment, maintaining wildlife values.
* The open, park-like nature of well-
managed longleaf stands is aesthetically
pleasing, and provides many opportunities
for recreational activities.
Timber and Pine Straw
Because of its excellent form, longleaf pine yields a higher proportion of pole and piling material
than other southern pines. Historically, stumpage prices for these products have been 30% to
50% higher than sawlog prices. On average sites, even-aged stands can be managed for poles on
a 40- to 60-year rotation. Frequent, light thinnings which retain the best pole candidates and
leave a residual stand basal area of 60 to 90 square feet per acre are recommended. Poles are best
grown in relatively dense stands in order to produce straight stems with minimal taper.
Pine straw, which is in high demand as a landscaping material, can be produced at the same time
as poles and piling material. Highest pine straw yields consistently come from well-stocked
longleaf stands on old fields with little or no understory. Straw can first be raked in plantations
between ages 8 and 12, and then every other year until age 20, or when stands are thinned.
With pine straw management there are several considerations to bear in mind. Most of a pine
forest's nutrients are contained in the pine needles, so frequent removal of needles can reduce site
fertility. Nutrient levels in the needles and soil should be periodically tested, and fertilizer applied
as needed. High, sandy sites with low fertility are not recommended for pine straw harvesting.
Also, wildlife habitat may be degraded because understory vegetation must be eliminated.
Timber and Wildlife
To accommodate both timber and wildlife, longleaf forests can be managed as even- or uneven-
aged stands on rotations ranging from 40 to 100 years or longer. In even-aged management, the
goal is to develop a structurally diverse forest, composed of a number of irregularly shaped
timber stands of a variety of ages. A patchwork of different-aged stands can provide the habitat
diversity that benefits many wildlife species. Thinnings every six to ten years, and retention of
streamside vegetation and pockets of hardwoods are also beneficial practices.
With uneven-aged management, trees of various ages are mixed together in the same forest stand.
A typical mixture includes many young trees, some middle-aged trees, and a scattering of mature
and old trees. A percentage of stems in each size class are harvested at regular intervals, and
openings are created where natural regeneration can occur. Trees are selected for harvest on an
individual or small group basis.
Uneven-aged management produces a patchy forest with a great deal of small-scale habitat
diversity. The main benefits are habitat diversity, periodic income from the high-value timber
products harvested during each cutting cycle, and the aesthetic appeal of managing without
clearcuts. The main disadvantages are the increased complexity of regulating timber harvest,
lower volume growth than would be produced by even-aged stands on the same site, and more
frequent entries into the stand for timber harvest (which increases the risk of damaging valuable
The following discussion of livestock grazing applies only to cattle; hogs should be excluded
from longleaf range because they root-up and eat young pine seedlings.
To improve grazing conditions in longleaf pine forests, thin stands early and often, and use
prescribed bums. Thinning should start as soon as practical and every six to ten years thereafter.
This will reduce shading and maintain forage production throughout the rotation. Prescribed bums
-considered by many land managers to be the most effective grazing management tool in
southern pine forests-improve the quality of forage and can be used to concentrate and rotate
grazing. For the longleaf-wiregrass communities, which are typical of Florida's longleaf forests,
the best burning schedule for grazing is a late winter or early spring prescribed bur every two
years, beginning after pine seedlings have developed fire tolerance.
When regenerating harvested longleaf stands, use minimal levels of site preparation so that
valuable forage plants are not eliminated. Stands with a history of prescribed fire will not require
intensive site preparation to control competing vegetation. Exclude livestock until adequate pine
regeneration is achieved
The key to compatible management of cattle and wildlife is to reserve a portion of the available
forage for wildlife, and adjust cattle stocking accordingly. On Louisiana ranges managed for deer
and cattle, 15% of the total livestock carrying capacity is reserved for deer. Failure to consider
the forage requirements of wildlife can lead to overgrazing and soil erosion.
Whether managing for timber, wildlife, livestock, recreation, pine straw, aesthetics, biodiversity,
or a combination of these objectives, there is one management tool that is always recommended
for longleaf pine stands-prescribed fire. Depending on vegetation conditions and ground fuels,
winter or early spring burns every two to three years are the norm in most longleaf pine
ecosystems. This fire regime top-kills woody brush, stimulates the production of nutritious
browse, prevents the buildup of woody fuels, and maintains the open, park-like environment on
which many plants and animals of the longleaf pine community depend. Keep in mind, however,
that "longleaf pine is not asbestos" (Dr. Bob Farrar). In spite of its fire tolerance, fire intensity
still needs to be carefully regulated to avoid tree injury or mortality.
References consulted for this article
* Stewardship of Longleaf Pine Forests: A
Guide for Landowners. 1997. Robert M.
Franklin. 44 Pages. $8 plus shipping and
* Proceedings of the First Longleaf Alliance
Conference-Longleaf Pine: A Regional
Perspective of Challenges and Opportuni-
ties. 1996. 178 pages. $6 plus shipping and
Both of these references are available from: Longleaf Alliance, Route 7, Box 131,
Andalusia, AL 36420.
Looking for Stewardship Forest Landowner of the Year
Eight years after its initiation, over 1000 Florida landowners are enrolled in the Forest
Stewardship Program. Over 100 of these landowners have attained Stewardship Forest
certification, a designation that recognizes their commitment of time, effort, and funds to
implementing their plans and improving the resources on their properties.
For the past two years, we have recognized a landowner as Florida's Stewardship Forest
Landowner of the Year, for making the extra effort above and beyond what is needed for
certification. Paul Bielling of Marion County received this award for 1996, and Terry and
Barbara Glancy of Dade County received the 1997 award.
These award recipients "stood out from the rest" in a number of ways, including the following:
They implemented management activities,
as outlined in their forest stewardship plan,
to improve timber growth, wildlife habitat,
conservation of soil and water, recreational
opportunities, aesthetics, and (as an option)
They made significant improvements to
their forestlands since beginning their
They personally performed much of the
work on their property.
They demonstrated a land ethic integral to
the stewardship concept, as indicated by the
management and condition of the property,
and the way in which each landowner
They actively promoted the Forest
Stewardship Program and recruited other
They actively promoted conservation and
responsible land management in their area.
In the case of the Glancys, they recovered
from a catastrophic hurricane, and continued
their management activities.
At this time, we are looking for landowners who would make good candidates for the 1998
award. If you or someone you know has received Stewardship Forest certification, and would
like to be considered for this award, contact your County Forester, Game Commission Biologist,
or forestry or wildlife consultant as soon as possible. They will visit the property and complete
the nomination form. Completed applications need to be submitted to this office by October 31.
A total of five Regional Stewardship Landowners of the Year will first be selected. A committee,
with representatives from each of the administering agencies, will then select the Florida
Stewardship Landowner of the Year from among the regional winners.
For more information, contact one of the individuals listed above, or call (850)414-9907.
Timber Price Update -
The 2nd quarter, Timber-Mart South report for Florida, listed average stumpage prices in April to
June, 1998 as $42/cord for pine pulpwood, $89/cord for pine C-N-S and $123/cord for pine
plylogs. Prices were $8, $1 and $15 per cord, respectively, lower than in the first quarter, but
were at about the same level as in the last three months of 1997. Hardwood pulpwood prices
dropped about 25% between quarters, but hardwood timber prices were slightly higher than last
quarter. As previous newsletters have pointed out, stumpage prices are highly variable and the
actual price for a particular timber sale can be affected by characteristics such as tract size, timber
density, access, proximity to mills, and weather. We have seen some extremes this year. For
example, prices were relatively high in January to March because of the long periods of rain. In a
dramatic turnaround, because of the fires and large amounts of dead timber on the market, prices
are now considerably lower for some product classes than earlier in the year. A more complete
summary of second quarter stumpage prices is available at your County Extension Office. To
determine current prices in your area, your best source of information will be forestry consultants
and timber companies that conduct timber sales in your area.
Florida Forestry Website
Since January of this year, Chris Demers, a Masters degree candidate in forestry, has worked
with the Forest Stewardship Program to produce an internet web site that provides landowners
with a comprehensive source of forestry information. Although still "under construction," the
web site already covers a variety of topics: timber management, non-timber management
opportunities, forest inventories, financial planning, forestry opportunities, cost-share programs,
land-use regulations, contacts for information, BMPs, forest ecosystems, Florida's trees and
shrubs, and soils. More information is being added all the time.
Chris is always looking for ways to improve the website, and welcomes and encourages
comments and suggestions. Please check out the website and let him know what you think.
The web site can be visited at:
Chris' e-mail address is:
Within the next couple of weeks, we will be mailing a survey to all participants in the Forest
Stewardship Program. The objective of the survey is to evaluate the past performance of the
Program and determine ways in which it can be improved. Participation in the survey is
completely voluntary, but we encourage you to respond. Your opinions will help us to make the
Program as productive and useful as possible. Be assured-your privacy will be strictly
protected. Your name does not need to be written anywhere on the survey form. .
Pine Straw Workshops
Two workshops on pine straw management are scheduled for October, 1998:
October 29 in Green Cove Springs
October 30 in Live Oak.
You will receive announcements in the mail.
5The USDA will be scheduling a sign-up period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP),
probably in mid-to-late fall. As with the 1997 eligibility requirements, applications will be
ranked according to an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). [Note: Longleaf pine plantings are
considered a Conservation Priority Area, so receive a higher EBI score.] Approved applicants
will receive cost-shares and technical assistance for establishing approved practices, as well as
an annual rental payment for 10 to 15 years. This may be one of the last opportunities for
significant acres to be enrolled in the program, so if you are interested, be sure to contact your
local County Forester, Cooperative Extension Service, or Natural Resources Conservation