Florida Forest Service Helps Landowners Prevent Southern Pine Beetle Outbreaks

Last week, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson and the Florida Forest Service announced that applications are being accepted for the 2023 Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program for non-industrial, private forest landowners through June 9, 2023. The program includes 44 northern Florida counties – the known range of the southern pine beetle.

“Most of Florida’s forests are privately owned, many by small family landowners,” said Simpson. “This program helps to protect the health of our pine forests – one of our most valuable resources in providing clean air, water, and timber.”

The southern pine beetle is one of the most economically devastating forest pests in the Southeastern United States, with periodic outbreaks destroying thousands of acres of pine timber. The last major southern pin beetle outbreak in Florida, between 1999 and 2002, caused an estimated $59 million in timber losses on over 24,000 acres.

“Southern pine beetle outbreaks have the potential to destroy thousands of acres of pine timber,” said Rick Dolan, the irector of the Florida Forest Service. “The most effective way to minimize losses is to prevent infestations through active forest management.”

The Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program, supported through a grant by the U.S. Forest Service, provides incentive payments for landowners who have overstocked pine stands and need to conduct a first thinning. In addition, it offers partial cost reimbursement for activities that can mitigate southern pine beetle activity, such as prescribed burning, mechanical underbrush treatments, and the planting of longleaf or slash pine rather than loblolly pine, the beetle’s preferred species. All qualifying applications received during the submission period will be evaluated and ranked for approval.

The Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program promotes forest management practices that reduce the risk and impacts of southern pine beetle infestations. Since it was first offered in 2005, the program has been implemented on more than 205,000 acres and helped thousands of landowners.

To obtain an application or to learn more about the Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program, visit: FDACS.gov/SPBPrevention.

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