Title: Florida forest steward
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Title: Florida forest steward
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Publisher: Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: Summer 2006
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Bibliographic ID: UF00090040
Volume ID: VID00040
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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The Florida Forest Steward

A Quarterly Newsletter for Florida Landowners and Resource Professionals


Volume 13, No. 1


Summer 2006


Ih, Iii iiuei: Stewardship Appraisal Revisited


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Wiley Coyote: Curious canine or problematic
pest? Photo by Dr. Lloyd Glenn Ingles, California
Academy of Sciences


If you've been in the Stewardship
Program or have been receiving the
Florida Forest Steward in the mail for
the last 5 years or so, you may recall an
article in the Spring 2001 issue (vol. 8,
no. 1) entitled, "A Stewardship
Appraisal Category?" In it we discussed
the merits of a property tax assessment
that considers the value of non-timber
benefits in calculating property taxes for
a particular property. The conclusion of
the piece was that, since many non-
timber benefits, like wildlife habitat and
recreation, also require active
management, properties that are actively
managed for these benefits should be
valued under some sort of "Stewardship"
or "Conservation" appraisal category so
that landowners who are providing these
benefits receive at least a modest level of
property tax relief.

Since that article was written, and
independently of it, some progress has
been made in this direction at the State
level. If approved by legislative
committee and sponsored, a
Conservation Assessment Act will be


UNIVERSITY OF

FLORIDA


IFAS


I RIDA 11









placed before the Florida State
Legislature.

Alachua County Gets the Ball Rolling

Property taxes are one of the economic
factors that influence land conversion
from forest to residential or urban,
especially where the land's fair market
value is extremely high relative to
agricultural assessment, as is the case
now in much of Alachua County.
Agricultural or forestry tax assessments
account for bona fide active
management and contributions to the
economy but they offer no benefit for
landowners providing other
nonagricultural conservation or habitat
benefits. Depending on landowner
objectives and the number of trees they
may plant per acre, many properties (or
parts of them) may not qualify for the
County's timber current use value (CUV)
and are therefore appraised as though
they are under no management at all.
Land under no management is taxed on
its fair market value, the highest level of
CUV taxation possible.

To give some tax benefit to landowners
who wish to manage for conservation or
habitat values, the Alachua County
Conservation Assessment Act was
proposed by County Commissioner
Mike Byerly. The purpose of the act was
to recognize that allowing land to lie
fallow provides benefits to an
agricultural economy by enhancing soil
fertility; serving as a buffer against wind
and rain erosion and the spread of
agricultural pests; providing habitat for
crop pollinators and protecting water
quality. Conservation land provides
further public benefits, including plant
and animal habitat, recreational


opportunities, air filtration and scenic
beauty. Conservation purposes include
"uses that provide for the maintenance
ofplant or wildlife habitat, or uses less
intensive than that agricultural use that
is ordinarily requiredfor qualification
as bonafide agricultural use pursuant to
Section 193.461, Florida Statutes."

Under the Act, the current tax
assessment for agricultural land would
be extended to farmers or landowners
who set aside land for conservation or
who scale back their agriculture
activities, and only landowners who
have been getting the agriculture
assessment for five years would qualify.

Having won support for the initiative in
Alachua County, County officials would
need to have the Act approved by the
State Legislature so the tax assessment
category would apply only in Alachua
County. However, the County Attorney
concluded it would be unconstitutional
because the state Constitution prohibits
special laws pertaining to the assessment
or collection of taxes for state or county
purposes.

Can this be applied at the state level??

This is a distinct possibility but it will be
a much larger challenge. Alachua
County is now trying to find an area
state legislator who will sponsor the bill
and file it as a general act. This would
allow all counties to extend the
agriculture assessment for conservation
if passed. Once sponsored, the bill would
be reviewed by the appropriate
committees and either approved or
denied.

Legislators are only allowed to sponsor a
given number of proposals and this









year's legislature is already in session so
it may need to wait for next year.
Despite the challenges ahead,
Commissioner Byerly is optimistic that
the Act will gain support if they can get
it on the agenda.

Southern Pine Beetle Prevention
Cost-Share Program
Florida Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services news release

As of May 1 the Florida Division of
Forestry is offering a new Southern Pine
Beetle Prevention Cost Share Program to
eligible non-industrial private forest
landowners. The goal of this program is
to minimize southern pine beetle damage
in Florida by helping forest landowners
reduce the susceptibility of their pine
stands to this destructive insect pest.
Periodic southern pine beetle outbreaks
in Florida have resulted in millions of
cubic feet of pine timber killed on many
thousands of acres. Forest management
practices, such as thinning and
prescribed burning, can improve the
health of pine stands and decrease their
likelihood of developing southern pine
beetle infestations.

The new program offers up to 50% cost
reimbursement for pre-commercial
thinning and prescribed burning
treatments, and a fixed-rate, per-acre
incentive payment for landowners who
conduct a first pulpwood thinning. The
program is limited to 44 northern Florida
counties located within the range of the
southern pine beetle. Qualified
landowners may apply for one approved
practice per state fiscal year. The
minimum tract size requirement is 10
acres and funding requests may not
exceed $10,000.


For an application and more information
on program requirements and
procedures, please visit your local
Division of Forestry office. Contact
information for the county forester office
in your area is available at www.fl-
dof.com. Applications will be evaluated
on a first-received, first-served basis.
The program is supported through
temporary grants from the USDA Forest
Service and will be offered only as long
as funding is available.

Farmers Can Benefit Under New
Program by Providing Bird
Habitat
By Chuck McKelvy, Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission

The Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission (FWC) is
encouraging north Florida farmers to
improve quail habitat and providing
compensation for those farmers who do
so, under a federal program initiated last
year.

The program, CP33 Habitat Buffers for
Upland Birds, pays farmers to not mow
or harrow the native grasses and shrubs
that border their fields and instead allow
it to remain natural. These bobwhitee
buffers" provide much-needed habitat
for quail, songbirds and other small
animals.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA), working through local Farm
Service Agency (FSA) offices, will
enroll up to 250,000 acres nationwide
for the Northern Bobwhite Quail Habitat
Initiative. Florida has been designated
for 2,300 acres. The initiative is part of
the USDA's Conservation Reserve
Program, which compensates farmers
who set aside sensitive areas to protect









water quality and other environmental
assets, including wildlife habitat.
Landowners may plant these buffers or
may allow natural vegetation to become
established. In either case, they must
agree to manage the enrolled acres
periodically to prevent tree
encroachment.

Bobwhite quail, once prolific in the
Southeast and Midwest, have declined in
the past several decades. Since 1980,
quail populations have declined 70
percent nationwide, according to federal
data.

The cause appears to be loss of habitat -
the weeds, shrubs, briers, goldenrod and
wildflowers that spring up after a natural
or planned disturbance such as a
prescribed fire. These types of
vegetation provide the necessary food,
cover and nesting habitat for quail and
other birds, but this habitat has declined
due to modern farming techniques,
conversion of marginal farm land to
timber production, intensification of
forestry practices, urbanization and lack
of prescribed fire.

If landowners want to enroll in the
program and meet basic land eligibility
requirements, they may establish a
natural border from 30-120 feet in width
around one or more sides of an
agricultural field. Compensation
includes a one-time signing bonus of up
to $100 per acre enrolled. Landowners
will receive annual payments for the
length of the 10-year term of the
agreement based upon soil fertility and
local established rental rates plus an
annual maintenance payment of $5 per
acre.


The FWC is reaching out in particular to
landowners in 21 counties in northern
Florida, where this initiative has the
most potential to benefit bobwhite quail.
Interested landowners should contact
their county FSA office and ask for
enrollment applications for Practice
CP33 Habitat for Upland Birds. For
more information about the program
contact Chuck McKelvy at 850-414-
9911.

The Wiley Coyote: Curious
Canine or Problematic Pest?
By Leslie Adams, Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission

In the past twenty to forty years, the
cagey coyote has established it's
presence in the Florida peninsula. If you
haven't seen one, you still may have
overheard one of their nightly yip-howl
conversations. You may have wondered:
Is the coyote an uninvited house guest to
Florida, or does the canine naturally
have a place among the palmettos and
pines of the sunshine state?

The "barking dog", as described by its
scientific name Canis latrans, is a
creature that is well adapted to human
settlements and activities. Coyotes favor
open spaces (e.g. agriculture landscapes)
as opposed to dense forests. The
conversion of Florida into more coyote-
friendly habitat coupled with the
removal of a competing predator (the
wolf), prepared Florida to become the
next stop in the coyote's natural
expansion into the east. The importation
and "unnatural" release of coyotes
during the 1950's and early 1980's by
spirited sportsmen for dog-hunting
purposes most likely didn't cause the
establishment of a permanent population
but did contribute to the rapid expansion









of their range. Observations of the
coyote in Florida have been documented
since the 1930's, and annual surveys
have been conducted by The Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission and the University of
Florida since 1997.

When you spot a coyote, it is most likely
part of a group that has an established
territory. Territory size depends on a
number of factors including available
resources, geographical features and
seasons (dry/wet). One Florida study
found home ranges to range roughly
between 5,000 and 7,000 acres. Groups
consist of the alpha pair (the mating
pair) and beta dogs that help raise the
pups in the spring and early summer.
Often, the beta animals are last year's
pups. While pairs do not mate for life,
they often stay together for up to four
years. Coyotes typically breed once a
year, in early-to mid-winter, depending
on location. Courtship can last for as
long as 2-3 months before mating takes
place. The pups are born after a gestation
period averaging 2 months. Litter size
can range from 2 to 12 pups, with six
pups as the average size. The litter size
can vary with population and prey
density; when food resources are
abundant, the litter size increases.
Mortality is greatest during their first
year and the average life span of a
coyote in the wild is 5-6 years. Captive
coyotes have survived as long as 12
years.

Coyotes are opportunistic consumers. In
other words, if they trip over a fawn they
will definitely make a worthwhile
attempt to make supper out of it. The
chances of the same coyote taking the
time to stalk and hunt adult does are
possible, but slim. Besides fawns, a


study in south central Florida revealed
that coyotes preferred fruit namely
palmetto berries and rabbits over
delicacies such as quail eggs. Coyotes
will also eat rodents such as the cotton
rat, insects, and snakes. Diet varies
greatly both seasonally and
geographically, as do the methods by
which prey are acquired. Coyotes are
active predators relying primarily on
vision while hunting, and they have been
observed to fish and climb trees in
pursuit of food.

Sometimes, a newly born calf or a patch
of juicy watermelon provide the
opportunity that coyotes are looking for.
Oftentimes though, livestock losses are
actually due to a group of feral dogs or
most frequently, to poisonous plants.
You can often discern how your
livestock was killed by examining the
bite marks and wounds. Commonly,
free-roaming dogs will mutilate but not
consume the animal whereas coyotes
typically make a meal out of their kill, in
particular the fleshy hindquarters. Like
the turkey vultures we see everywhere,
coyotes are scavengers and oftentimes
the carcass in which you see them ears
deep is not their kill.

If you are not experiencing either loss of
livestock or watermelon crop to coyotes,
removal of one or both of a territorial
pair may result in the establishment of
coyotes that have learned to prey on
livestock, a behavior that also will be
taught to offspring. Consequently,
removal of non-problem coyotes may be
counter-productive. If a problem with
livestock or crops is identified, control
efforts should attempt to target the
problem coyotes. This is both a less
expensive and more effective strategy
than indiscriminate control efforts.










Oftentimes, indiscriminate control
efforts actually result in an increase in
the coyote population. By reducing the
population, an increase in food resources
for the remaining coyotes will result. As
pointed out earlier, female coyotes will
produce a larger litter when resources
are bountiful.

Eradication efforts in the West have had
minor impacts in some populations of
coyotes, but the costs in terms of labor
and money is high. Participants of a
Utah bounty program recognized their
efforts in terms of damage control as
minimal. When surveyed, the number
one reason for participation was to
'enjoy the outdoors'. Livestock
protection ranked 6th out of 8 reasons. A
more cost effective method to control
coyote damage is the use of a guard dog
or llama.

Concerns regarding the coyote's role in
Florida's ecosystem include competition
with other predators such as bobcats and
foxes. Florida's native gray fox is
frequently excluded from habitat
occupied by coyotes. On the other hand,
competition with heavy nest predators
such as the raccoon may result in less
predation on the nests of ground nesting
birds such as the bobwhite quail.

Like any critter in the woods or water,
coyotes can have both positive and
negative effects on your property. It is
important to acknowledge the potential
benefits as well as the potential
drawbacks when considering the need to
manage coyotes.

For more information on coyotes in
Florida visit the "South Florida Coyote
Study" website at:
http://www.imok.ufl.edu/wild/coyote or


Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission:
http://myfwc.com/critters/coyote. asp

References

Bartel, R. A. and M. W. Brunson. 2003. Effects
of Utah's coyote bounty program on harvest
behavior. Wildlife Society Bulletin 31: 736-743.

Bekoff, M. 1982. Coyote. Pp. 447-459. In:
Chapman, J.A., and G.A. Feldhammer (eds.).
Wild Mammals of . M America. Johns
Hopkins University Press. Baltimore.

Bekoff, M. and Wells, M.C. 1986. Social
ecology and behaviour of coyotes. Advances in
the Study of Behavior. 16: 251-338.

Main, M. B. 2001 Interpreting the physical
evidence of predation on domestic livestock. The
University of Florida Electronic Data
Information Source [http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu]; Doc
nr WEC141.

Main, M.B., M.D. Fanning, J.J. Mullahey, S.F.
Coates, and D.H. Thornton. 2003. Cattlemen's
perceptions of coyotes in Florida. Florida
Scientist 66:55-62.

Palomares, F. and T. M. Caro. 1999.
Interspecific killing among mammalian
carnivores. The American Naturalist 153: 492-
508.

Thornton, D. H., M. E. Sunquist, and M. B.
Main. 2004. Ecological separation within newly
sympatric populations of coyotes and bobcats in
south-central Florida. Journal of Mammology
85: 973-982.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. 1978. Predator
damage in the West: a study of coyote
management alternatives. Dept. Interior. Pp 65-
74.

Congratulations to these
Landowners for Achieving
Forest Stewardship Certification

Ralph and Mary Armstrong,
Jackson County









Austin Cary Memorial Forest, UF School of
Forest Resources and Conservation,
Alachua County

Dean, Tommye and Aaron Collins,
Suwannee County

Jack and Katherine Ewel,
Alachua County

Helen Griffith, Calhoun County

Chet and Rita Grimsley, Wakulla County

Gary and Cindy Klingebiel,
Seminole County

Andrew Lee, Calhoun County

I,, iil,if Ecology and Forestry Society
(recertification), Alachua County

John and Jolene Paramore,
Jackson County

WE. and Corrine Paramore,
Jackson County

Gordon Revell, Liberty County

Leila 'hil; Calhoun County

Nadine Stone, Calhoun County

Stephen Toner, Calhoun County

Virginia Upton, Jackson County


Timber Price Update

This information is useful for observing
trends over time, but does not
necessarily reflect current conditions at a
particular location. Landowners
considering a timber sale would be wise
to let a consulting forester help them
obtain the best current prices. Note that
price ranges per ton for each product is


included in parentheses after the price
per cord.

Stumpage price ranges reported across
Florida in the 1st Quarter 2006 Timber
Mart-South (TMS) report were:

* Pine pulpwood: $15 $27/cord ($6 -
$10/ton), 1 from 4th Quarter 2005
* Pine C-N-S: $56 $78/cord ($21 -
$29/ton), [
* Pine sawtimber: $96 $119/cord
($36 $45/ton), [
* Pine plylogs: $117 $134/cord ($44
$50/ton), "
* Pine power poles: $148 $159/cord
($55 $66/ton) T
* Hardwood pulpwood: $13 $26/cord
($5 $9/ton), [

Trend Report

The average price trends for the major
timber products across Florida were
mixed. Prices were up from 4th Quarter
2005 for pine pulpwood, poles and
plylogs and down for the others reported
here. The Southwide averages for all
products were up from last quarter.
Consistent with this trend in Florida
were large diameter pine products such
as poles and plylogs.

Average Pine Stumpage Prices for Florida
1st Qtr 1997 through 1st Qtr 2006


71 73 81 83 91 93 01 03 11 13 21 23 31 33 41 43 51 53 61
Year/Quarter (beginning first quarter 1997)


-*-pulpwood -A-chip-n-saw --sawtimber




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