Title: Florida forest steward
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090040/00044
 Material Information
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 2007
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090040
Volume ID: VID00044
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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The Florida Forest Steward

A Quarterly Newsletter for Florida Landowners and Resource Professionals


Summer 2007


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Statewide RCW Safe Harbor
Agreement Established
By Jennifer Perkins, Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission

The pinelands of the southeastern U.S.
are the year-round home to the red-
cockaded woodpecker (RCW) but
habitat loss and degradation has reduced
its range by about 97%, putting this
species on the Federally Endangered
Species list since the late 1960s. This
designation and RCW presence on many
federal and private lands have resulted in
a significant amount of research on the
bird's biology and habitat.


Private properties in Florida may be
home to as many as 10% of Florida's
remaining RCW groups. In an effort to
foster partnerships for the conservation
of red-cockaded woodpeckers on private
lands, the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission (FWC)
signed a statewide RCW Safe Harbor
Agreement with the U.S. Fish and
Private lands are an important part of Wildlife Service (USFWS) in August
red cockaded woodpecker habitat, 2006.
photo by Jennifer Perkins.
Private landowners and their properties
are critical to conservation efforts
targeting
imperiled species.

^UF UNIVERSITY of

UF FLORIDA

IFAS


Volume 14, No. 1









Many private landowners are good land
stewards who already conserve wildlife
through their management efforts, but
providing habitat for wildlife becomes
an obligation when species listed under
the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
occur on the property. For this reason,
the ESA effectively creates a
disincentive to private landowners who
are often concerned about land use
restrictions that may occur if listed
species colonize their property or
increase in numbers as a result of land
management. This disincentive causes
some landowners to avoid or limit land
management practices that could
otherwise enhance or maintain habitat
for listed species. Some landowners
even destroy unoccupied habitat to
prevent occupation by listed species -
even when they would otherwise prefer
to keep habitat intact.


So why would I want to bother with
RCWs?

The Safe Harbor Program was created
to address these legitimate concerns. The
concept was created by a cooperative
effort between the USFWS and
Environmental Defense, a non-
government organization. The first Safe
Harbor Agreement was established for
the RCW in the sandhills of North
Carolina. Participation in a Safe Harbor
program assures landowners that their
voluntary conservation actions will not
result in increased land use restrictions
in the future.

Here's how it works: under Florida's
RCW Safe Harbor Agreement, a
landowner is only required to protect the
number of RCW groups present on the
property (along with a minimum amount
of foraging habitat) at the beginning of


the agreement. This is termed the
baseline responsibility. If a landowner
increases the number of RCW groups on
his/her property, for example, he/she is
not legally obligated to protect these
"surplus" groups. At any time and with
a 60-day notice to FWC a landowner
can alter the habitat of these "surplus"
groups. In return for these regulatory
assurances, the landowner agrees to
conduct certain management activities
such as prescribed burning, midstory
hardwood reduction, and/or thinning of
dense pine stands. Managing for RCWs
promotes a healthy forest and is usually
compatible with quail management,
timber harvesting, and cattle ranching.
Florida's RCW Safe Harbor program is
available to landowners with habitat that
is occupied by RCWs, or is likely to be
suitable RCW habitat. Safe Harbor
agreements are especially beneficial to
landowners who want to maintain
mature, open pine forests within or near
established RCW populations.


What if I want out or want to sell my
property?

Involvement in the program is
completely voluntary and participating
landowners may cancel the agreement at
any time with a 60-day notice to FWC.
The agreement is also transferable to a
new owner if the property is sold. If the
new owner signs a Safe Harbor
Agreement, he/she will assume the same
baseline responsibility as the original
landowner. Thus, under a Safe Harbor
Agreement, property value would not
diminish if "surplus" RCW groups are
grown. Involvement in Florida's RCW
Safe Harbor Program in no way limits
landowners' rights to sell their land.









What about red tape and getting some
assistance?

Private landowners who sign up for this
program will be included under FWC's
umbrella permit. Inclusion under the
umbrella permit is a streamlined process
for landowners because most of the red
tape is handled by the FWC. There are
also many state and federal programs
that can assist landowners in achieving
their management objectives and
conserving RCWs. Cost-share funds are
available under programs such as FWC's
Landowner Incentives Program (LIP),
the USFWS' Partners for Fish and
Wildlife Program (PFW), or through the
Natural Resource Conservation
Service's Wildlife Habitat Incentives
Program (WHIP) or the Environmental
Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
Also, new legislation will be introduced
to Congress this year aimed at giving tax
credits to private landowners who are
willing to establish conservation
easements or agree to restore, enhance or
manage listed species habitat on their
lands. The bill would also expand tax
credits for landowners participating in
furthering recovery plans under the ESA
and would exclude from taxable income
certain federal cost-share payments that
landowners receive under other
conservation programs. (See Idaho
Senator Mike Crapo's website for more
about these initiatives -
http://crapo.senate.gov/media/newsreleas
es/release full.cfm?id=266590)

How do I sign up?

If you are interested in a Safe Harbor
Agreement for RCWs on land you own
or manage and/or are interested in
learning more about the program, please
contact:


Jennifer Perkins
RCW Safe Harbor Coordinator
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission
1239 SW 10th Street
Ocala, FL 34474
Office: (352) 732-1225 xl01
jennifer.perkins(@,myfwc.com

Conserved Forest Ecosystem
Outreach and Research
Cooperative
By Dr. Shibu Jose, University of Florida
School of Forest Resources and
Conservation

The University of Florida School of
Forest Resources and Conservation and
Department of Wildlife Ecology and
Conservation announce the formation of
a new research and outreach cooperative
called Conserved Forest Ecosystem
Outreach and Research (CFEOR). The
mission of CFEOR is to develop and
disseminate knowledge needed to
conserve and manage Florida's forests as
healthy, working ecosystems that
provide social, ecological and economic
benefits on a sustainable basis.

The 10 founding members of CFEOR
are: Florida Division of Forestry, Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission, Florida Park Service,
Florida Wildlife Federation, National
Forests in Florida, The Nature
Conservancy, Northwest Florida Water
Management District, Suwannee River
Water Management District, St. Johns
River Water Management District, and
UF School of Natural Resources and
Environment.

Mike Long, Director of the DOF, is the
chair of the Steering Committee and new
members are being actively recruited
including other agencies, industry,









consultants, private landowners and
municipalities. These organizations will
be working collectively with scientists
from the University of Florida's Institute
of Food and Agricultural Sciences and
other UF units to address a wide range of
issues including:

*Restoring Florida forest ecosystems;
*Evaluating water quality and quantity;
*Valuing forest ecosystems;
*Assessing visitors & recreation
management strategies;
*Promoting biodiversity, wildlife and
fish populations;
*Controlling invasive, exotic species;
*Cost effective conservation planning
through public-private ventures;
*Exploring innovative market
opportunities;
*Understanding and using prescribed
fire; and
*Enhancing threatened and endangered
species.

University leadership for CFEOR will
come from four co-directors: Dr. Janaki
Alavalapati (SFRC, Economics and
Policy), Dr. Shibu Jose (SFRC,
Ecology), Dr. Taylor Stein (SFRC,
Recreation and Ecotourism) and Dr.
George Tanner (Wildlife Ecology and
Conservation). If you would like to
learn more about CFEOR, please email
Dr. Shibu Jose at sjose@ufl.edu.

What's Killing the Red Bays?
By Bud Mayfield, Entomologist, Florida
Division of Forestry

Two trees in the laurel family, namely
red bay (Persea borbonia) and sassafras
(Sassafras albidum) are dying rapidly in
coastal areas of South Carolina, Georgia
and Florida. The cause is what has
become known as Laurel Wilt Disease
(because it seems to favor plants in the


laurel family): a fungus (Ophiostoma
sp.) vectored by an Asian ambrosia
beetle (Xyleborus glabratus). Both the
beetle and fungus are recent
introductions into the United States. At
the present time there is no known
method to halt the spread of this disease.

History

In 2002 the Asian ambrosia beetle was
discovered for the first time in a
monitoring trap near Savannah, Georgia.
The beetle is a native of India, Japan and
Taiwan. By late 2003, red bay trees were
dying in coastal South Carolina; the
beetle was found on those dead and
dying trees and was suspected to be
related to the mortality. Sassafras trees
were also impacted. The Ophiostoma
fungus was also found in all diseased
trees and inoculation experiments
confirmed the fungus was the cause of
mortality. Examination of the beetle
confirmed the fungus was present in all
examined beetles. Evidence strongly
suggests the beetle was the vector for
moving this fungus from tree to tree.

Will the disease affect other trees?

Other trees in the laurel family include
swamp bay, silk bay, avocado,
pondspice (Litsea aestivalis) and
southern spicebush (Lindera
melissifolia), a federally endangered
species. In the field, the pathogen has
been recovered from dying sassafras,
southern spicebush and pondspice (these
finds were in GA and SC). The pathogen
and the redbay ambrosia beetle have also
been recovered from a dead avocado
seedling, one of several we planted in
Jacksonville for monitoring purposes
(causality of death in this instance was
uncertain and further monitoring/testing
of avocado is ongoing). What the level









of impact will be on these species in the
field is uncertain; seedlings of several
species in the Lauraceae that have been
artificially inoculated in the lab (USDA
Forest Service) become diseased.

What are red bays good for?

The seeds of red bay are eaten by
turkeys, quail, deer, songbirds and bears.
Red bays are host plants to three
butterflies: palamedes, Schaus and
spicebush swallowtails. The palamedes
is obligate to the red bay as the eggs are
laid on the leaves and the emerging
caterpillar eats the leaves. Red bays have
limited commercial use but the wood is
sometimes used in cabinetry and boat
building and the trees are occasionally
used in landscaping. Leaves are used in
Southern cooking to flavor gumbos.

Beetle and fungus biology

Much about the biology and disease
cycle is still uncertain and/or unstudied
but this is what is understood so far: the
vector for the Ophiostoma fungus is an
ambrosia beetle. There are 20 species of
ambrosia beetles in the U.S., nine of
which are exotic and eight of these cause
no economic or ecological harm.
Ambrosia beetles are usually attracted to
dying trees but the Asian variety seems
to attack healthy trees. The beetle
burrows into the cambium layer and
deposits the fungus which then
multiplies, inhibiting the tree from
moving water and nutrients. The beetle
may leave the tree after the initial visit,
but once the tree dies, a large number of
beetles return to the infected tree to eat
the fungus. It may take only a single
beetle visit to inoculate the fungus into
the tree.


Rate of spread

The initial observation of dead red bay
trees in South Carolina was in late 2003.
By 2005, the beetle and disease were
confirmed in seven counties in northeast
Georgia, five counties in South Carolina
and Duval County in Florida. The spread
of the disease to Florida happened
without the disease being observed in
southern Georgia. By the end of 2006,
the disease had spread to five counties in
South Carolina, 15 counties in Georgia
and eight counties in Florida. One of the
counties in Florida, Indian River County,
is approximately 140 miles south of any
known infestation. Researchers in South
Carolina estimate the rate of spread is
approximately 20 miles per year. The
rate of spread in Florida far exceeds this
estimate. Transportation of the beetle via
inadvertent human actions (e.g. in
firewood, in shipment of timber
products, or stuck on a vehicle or train)
over distances greater than the flight
distance also seems to be occurring.

Can it be stopped?

Unfortunately there is currently no
method to control the disease but efforts
can be made to slow down the spread of
the disease through sanitation and
limited movement of infected
plants. This could be supplemented by
chemical control in limited
circumstances (high value trees) if
products and techniques are eventually
demonstrated to be effective. Research
trials evaluating some systemic
fungicides are now being initiated.
Slowing the spread of the disease could
buy some time for the development of
longer-term solutions like biological
control, genetically-resistant trees, or
improvements in mechanical and
chemical controls.









Monitoring plots on Ft. George Island
(Duval County, Florida) show 92 percent
mortality of red bay trees. All red bays
above 6 inches in diameter have died.
Given this mortality rate, one researcher
has characterized this as an ecological
disaster. While no one was willing to
predict the long term impact of the loss
of red bays (and possibly other laurel
species), all researchers agreed it will
have major impacts including changes in
fire behavior, loss of dependent species
and probable economic consequences.

In light of the possibility of losing red
bay, seed collection efforts are being
initiated by the USDA Forest Service
National Seed Laboratory. Seeds will be
put in long-term cold storage for
potential reintroduction in the future, if
and when red bay goes extinct in the
field and the vector/pathogen die out due
to lack of hosts. These types of seed
collections are already underway for
other species threatened by exotic pests
(like ash and hemlock).

The Florida contact for information
about this disease is Dr. Bud Mayfield,
Florida Division of Forestry, (352) 372-
3505 x119, mayfiea@doacs.state.fl.us

Succession Planning: What Does
the Future Hold for Your Forest
Property?
By Chris Demers, University of Florida
School of Forest Resources and
Conservation

This year's Master Tree Farmer mini-
series, "Preparing for the Next Owner"
explored issues that are heavy on many
landowners' minds and they are
therefore prominent on the radar screen
of extension foresters, agency foresters,
landowner and industry associations and
others who serve this important group of


citizens. The reality is this: millions of
acres of family-owned forest land will
change hands in the United States within
the next decade and many of these
transfers will happen with virtually no
planning. Although many landowners
wish to keep their land in the family and
pass it on to the next generation, few
have taken the necessary steps to make
that happen. The USDA Forest Service
projects that, nationwide, about 23.2
million acres of forestland will pass out
of forest use over the next 50 years.
Most of these acres will be privately
owned, nonindustrial forest lands
converted to residential subdivision.

In many cases succession planning is the
missing link in the chain of intended
land tenure and management that
landowners may envision. Succession
planning is a challenging set of tasks that
involves legal, economic, environmental
and social issues. Estate planning is an
important part of the process but estate
planning alone will not ensure that the
property will be owned and managed as
you envision it to be. When forest land is
at stake, differences among family
members in values, goals and
management skills can lead to
unintended results. Deliberate
communication and planning that
involves the entire family is needed to
ensure that each member's values are
understood and the transfer of the
property to the heirs is equitable. To
complicate matters, many family forest
lands are located at the edge of
metropolitan areas where development
pressure and associated tax burdens
compound the challenge of planning for
the property's future.


-continues after workshop announcement-









The "Preparing for the Next Owner"
miniseries addressed many of these
issues and others. DVDs of this program
will be available for sale on the Master
Tree Farmer regional Web site:
http://mastertreefarmer.org/ later this
spring or summer. Until then there are
some important resources available now
that can help you get started in the
process of family forest succession
planning:

Ties to the Land: Your Family Forest
Heritage, on the Web at:
http://www.familybusinessonline.org/res
ources/ttl/home.htm. Created by the
Austin Family Business Program at
Oregon State University, Clinton Bentz
and others, this project offers creative
resources to guide family forest owners
through a smooth transition of their
forest property from one generation to
the next. Several of these resources were
provided as part of the Preparing for the
Next Owner series.

Cover Your A$$ets: Estate Planning,
Conservation Planning and Income
Options for Forestland Owners: An
award-winning University of Florida -
IFAS Extension project, this 2-DVD / 1-
CD set contains prerecorded workshop
presentations on these topics, other
media and many printable resources and
Web links to relevant material. It is
available for sale ($40.00 plus shipping)
from the UF-IFAS Extension Bookstore:
http://www.ifasbooks.ufl.edu/ or by
phone: 1-800-226-1764 (Visa and
Mastercard accepted).

Timber Price Update

The timber pricing information below is
useful for observing trends over time,
but does not necessarily reflect current
conditions at a particular location.


Landowners considering a timber sale
are advised to solicit the services of a
consulting forester to obtain current
local market conditions. Note that price
ranges per ton for each product are
included in parentheses after the price
per cord.

Stumpage price ranges reported across
Florida in the 1st Quarter 2007 Timber
Mart-South (TMS) report were:

* Pine pulpwood: $17 $27/cord ($6 -
$10/ton), T (on average from 4th
Quarter 2006)
* Pine C-N-S: $52 $63/cord ($20 -
$24/ton), [
* Pine sawtimber: $87 $109/cord
($33 $41/ton), T
* Pine plylogs: $89 $110/cord ($33 -
$41/ton), [
* Pine power poles: $143 $183/cord
($53 $68/ton) [
* Hardwood pulpwood: $5 $20/cord
($2 $7/ton), [

Trend Report

On average South-wide stumpage prices
for all products are down from a year
ago with the exception of pulpwood
which is up by more than 10% from first
quarter 2006. The average stumpage
price of chip-n-saw has decreased the
most over the year with an average
decline of over 10%. The continuing
drought across most of Florida will
likely keep prices depressed over the
next quarter because of easy
accessibility to many stands. Regional
prices seem to reflect the market
indicators for the major products over
the first quarter 2007. Housing starts
and product prices, market indicators for
sawtimber, are down, while the pulp and
paper manufacturing sector is relatively
strong.




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