Tallahassee, FL –The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Florida Forest Service began accepting applications today for the Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) Assistance and Prevention Program, a program designed to mitigate the damage caused by SPBs. The program seeks to assist forest landowners in conducting management practices that can make pine stands less susceptible to this destructive insect pest.
“SPB outbreaks have the potential to destroy millions of tons of pine timber on thousands of acres,” said Jim Karels, Director of the Florida Forest Service. “The most effective way to minimize losses from SPBs is to prevent infestations by reducing susceptibility through active forest management.”
The SPB is a native, periodically destructive insect pest of pines in the southeastern United States. The SPB typically attacks pines that are dying or weakened due to environmental stress, competition, age or other factors. Under certain environmental conditions, however, SPB populations may overcome the defenses of healthy trees, building rapidly and killing large numbers of pines.
Between 1993 and 2002, there were nearly 7,000 SPB infestations in Florida resulting in more than 36,000 acres with pine mortality.
The program, supported through a grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, offers an incentive payment for landowners who conduct a first pulpwood thinning and partial cost reimbursement for prescribed burning, mechanical underbrush treatments and planting longleaf or slash pine.
Qualified landowners in one of the 44 northern Florida counties located within the range of the southern pine beetle may apply for up to two approved practices per year. Funding requests may not exceed $10,000. All qualifying applications received during the submission period will be evaluated and ranked for approval. The Florida Forest Service will accept applications now through June 11.
To obtain application forms and more information on program requirements and procedures, visit a local Florida Forest Service office or www.floridaforestservice.com.
For more information about the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.