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THE FLORIDA FOREST STEWARD  A Quarterly Newsletter for Florida Landowners and Resource Professionals
Volume 10, No. 1                                                          Spring 2003

Congratulations Master Wildlifers
Wildlife Forages for Florida
Energywood
Forest Legacy Program
Spotlight on Florida Wild Turkeys
Wildlife Plant Feature
Timber Price Update
Upcoming Events - Florida Forestry Information Bulletin Board
 

 
A University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service and Florida Division of Forestry joint project:

Chris Demers (editor), School of Forest Resources & Conservation, UF, P.O. Box 110410, Gainesville, FL  32611-0410, (352) 846-2375 or cdemers@mail.ifas.ufl.edu
Alan Long (co-editor), School of Forest Resources & Conservation, UF, (352) 846-0891 or ajl2@ufl.edu
Todd Groh (co-editor), Florida Division of Forestry, 3125 Conner Blvd, Tallahassee, FL 32699-1650, (850) 414-9907 or groht@doacs.state.fl.us
Chuck McKelvy (co-editor), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 3125 Conner Blvd, Tallahassee, FL 32699-1650, (850) 414-9911 or mckelvc@fwc.state.fl.us


Congratulations Master Wildlifers and Thanks to Florida Master Wildlifer Team

Congratulations to all Master Wildlifers who attended at least 18 hours of the shortcourse last February and March, and a warm welcome to those Master Wildlifers who are receiving the Florida Forest Steward Newsletter for the first time. We have added you to our Forest Stewardship Program mailing list so that you will receive this publication and announcements to our upcoming natural resource workshops, tours and other events.

The Master Wildlifer program was a resounding success - the Clemson University satellite broadcast shortcourse reached over 440 landowners and wildlife enthusiasts across Florida and over 4,000 landowners around the Southeast. In addition to the 440 landowners participating in Florida, another 100 natural resource, academic, and extension professionals served on support committees at 20 downlink sites around the State. The program could not have happened without the help and support of these folks:

Site Coordinators: John Alleyne, John Atkins, Logan Barbee, Lamar Christenberry, Chris Demers, Diann Douglas, Gerald Edmondson, Eleanor Foerste, Lynn Gager, Sharon Gamble, Mike Goodchild, Susan Hedge, Brenda Holloway, Ed Jowers, Elizabeth Maitland, Mike Renwick, Stan Rosenthal, Ken Rudisill, Paulette Tomlinson, Allen Tyree, Larry Varnadoe, and Ray Zerba.

Site Committees: Andy Andreason, Tim Atkinson, Donna Belcher, Tim Boring, Steve Carpenter, Robing Marquette, Kendall Carson, Bill Clark, Louis Claudio, Shep Eubanks, Fred Gilliam, Pat Grace, Henry Grant, Larry Halsey, Jon Handrick, Ann Hanson, Craig Iversen, Paula Jensen, Bill Kelsey, Charles King, Aaron Levine, Mariaisabel Merizalde-Colletti, Josh Mayfield, Nik McCue, Jeff Mullahey, John Pankow, Barbara Pledger, Trisha Pohlmann, Will Sheftall, Trent Skill, Bern Smith, Charles Strauch, Dana Sussmann, Linda Ulesth, Robin Vickers, Bruce Ward, Tim Wilkinson, and Maria Wilson.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Biologists: Mark Asleson, Geoff Brown, David Cook, Terry Doonan, Justin Ellenberger, Jeff Gore, Wayne Harris, Harry Harter, Leslie Hawkins, Earling Hunter, Arlo Kane, Chuck McKelvy, Ashley Joye, Karen Lamonte, Jeff McGrady, Paul Moler, Cory Morea, Erin Myers, Larry Perrin, Jerry Pitts, Roger Shields, and Collin Smith.

Agency / Organization Support: Thomas Gilpin, Todd Groh, Charles Maynard, and Earl Peterson of the Florida Division of Forestry; Brad Gruver, Chuck McKelvy, Frank Montalbano, Tim O’Meara, and Nick Wiley of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Vickie Allen and Jeff Doran of the Florida Forestry Association; and Rod Clauser, Freddie Johnson, Mitch Flinchum, Alan Long, Joseph Schaefer, Wayne Smith, Pete Vergot, and Christine Waddill of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Sponsors: Fred Simons of Carden & Sprott Insurance Agency; Kevin Morgan of Florida Farm Bureau; and Dianne Hines and Sal Riveeccio of Florida Wildlife Federation.

State Coordinators: Chris Demers and Will Sheftall of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR HARD WORK AND SUPPORT!


Wildlife Forages for Florida
by Dr. Ann Blount, UF-IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center; and Chris Demers

With the Master Wildlifer program fresh in many of our minds, this is a good time to review an on-going, collaborative effort by UF- IFAS and the Florida Fish and Widlife Conservation Commission to determine which forages are really the best value in Florida. While nature lovers and hunters invest in a multitude of wildlife forage products on the market, University of Florida forage specialists believe buyers don’t always get what they pay for and that they pay too much. IFAS and several State wildlife biologists joined together recently to look at what works and what doesn’t.

Because there is not much hard data on food plots for wildlife, UF-IFAS horticultural specialist Steve Olson, along with forage workers Ann Blount, Ken Quesenberry, Ron Barnett, Gordon Prine, and Carrol Chambliss set out to evaluate commercial forage products, as well as recommend recipes for wildlife that can be assembled with adapted varieties available at many feed stores. These blends should be suitable for light, sandy soils and be relatively inexpensive. County extension agents have taken the lead in planting trials in many north and south Florida counties, to make valid comparisons of wildlife forages, rather than base recommendations on testimonials. You can often see these trials first hand in yours or neighboring counties. Forages are evaluated on their adaptation to the region, including resistance to disease, insect, and nematode pressures. Seasonal distribution, forage production and utilization by wildlife are the key elements used in rating the food plot materials. The end result should be a win-win-win for the wildlife, you-the wildlife enthusiast, and IFAS.

So far the team has discovered that a few choice blends are biologically and economically suitable for Florida wildlife forage plots. Blends containing locally adapted varieties of oats, ryegrass, wheat, crimson clover, red clover, and white clover seem to work the best in this part of the country. Specific variety and forage blend recommendations are available in two IFAS Extension publications recently completed by this group: “A Walk on the Wild Side: Cool Season Forage Recommendations for Wildlife Food Plots in North Florida” (SS-AGR-28), which is an abbreviated version of “Wildlife Forages for North Florida - Part I: Cool Season Food Plots” (SS-AGR-30). Both of these are available for viewing, downloading and printing on the IFAS Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS) at: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/TOPIC_Wildlife_Forages. Also check with your local county agent about updates on wildlife forage recommendations.

Dr. Ann Blount can be reached at the North Florida Research and Education Center in Marianna at 850-482-9849, ablount@mail.ifas.ufl.edu.


Energywood: a Marketing Opportunity for Short-Rotation Trees?

Timberland owners in the South may see a new wood-using industry develop that, in time, could conceivably become as big as the pulp and paper business. This new industry is biomass energy, or energywood.

Based on an estimate given by W. N. Haynes of Timberland Managers, Inc. in last quarter’s Timber Mart-South summary report, one ton of hardwood or pine chips, depending on moisture content, has the same British thermal unit (BTU) value as that of one barrel of oil or one-half ton of coal. With oil selling at around $28 to $32 per barrel and pine pulpwood selling at a delivered price of $22 or less per ton, pulpwood is theoretically worth more for energy than pulp. Most of the intensively managed pine plantations in the south are growing about 10 to 12 tons of merchantable timber per acre per year. Translated to BTUs, they are growing 12 to 15 barrels of oil per acre per year, the difference being in the non-merchantable portion of the trees. Another advantage of selling trees for biomass fuels is the ability to include the entire tree in the sale, regardless of species or size; and insect infested, fire killed, and invasive exotic trees can be sold as energywood as well.

This business of producing energy from trees would clearly be an economic boost for landowners and loggers alike and it would have important benefits to society as well:

-This renewable source of energy could reduce our dependence on foreign and domestic oil reserves.

-Biomass from intensively managed plantations could result in a positive contribution to the oxygen/carbon dioxide balance in the atmosphere - carbon that is released into the atmosphere from the fuel burned this year could be captured by the next year’s growth.

-Tree biomass mixed with coal to produce electricity could significantly reduce sulfur air pollutants.

Is there a market for energywood?
There is but the emphasis is currently on hardwoods. According to some local producers of energywood, one obstacle to using pine for energywood is the abundance of "wild" biomass in the form of unwanted hardwoods that are available at no cost. In fact, many landowners will pay to have hardwoods removed to make way for new homes.

Very few power plants are fueled exclusively by energywood. Most of the power plants using energywood are using an approach called co-firing, which means the power generation facility is modified to allow use of energy crop fuel, changing the fuel mix from 100% fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, natural gas) to approximately 5% energy crop fuel and 95% fossil fuels. This doesn’t sound like a significant shift but, according to the Treepower Web site, it is very significant when recognizing the tremendous size of these facilities. For example, co-firing energy crops at just one medium size power plant (365 MWs) would be the equivalent of installing over 18,000 large solar panels.

While markets for energywood are currently limited, there seems to be growing interest in “green fuels” as a means to increase energy efficiency. Should more utilities start using energywood for all or a percentage of their fuel, as is proposed by pending legislation in the Florida Senate, markets for low value pines could develop.

For more information about this technology from both the crop and firing perspectives, see the Treepower Web site at www.treepower.org/.


Forest Legacy Program
by Ed Kuester, Forest Legacy Program Administrator, Florida Division of Forestry

The rapid development of Florida’s forest areas to nonforest uses poses an ever-increasing threat to maintaining the state's valuable forestlands. Fragmentation and parcelization across our state is resulting in the loss of these valuable ecosystems and their biological, economic and social values they provide. In response to these trends, Governor Bush recently appointed the Florida Division of Forestry as the lead agency to administer the Forest Legacy Program (FLP) in Florida, an action uniting Florida with 31 other States now participating in that Program. The FLP is a voluntary program that resulted from the Federal Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978, was amended in the1990 Farm Bill, and renewed in the 2002 Farm Bill.

The FLP will protect designated forest areas, called Forest Legacy Areas, which are being identified by the Florida Division of Forestry in consultation with the State Forest Stewardship Coordinating Committee with significant public involvement and input. The USFS provides grant funds to help prepare an Assessment of Need (AON), a statewide plan that identifies the threats of conversion to non-forest uses facing private forests, and also identifies where the environmentally important private forests are located. This AON plan is based on existing data, public participation, and State lead agency analysis. The final plan will be sent to the USDA Secretary for approval. Typically the planning process takes 8-18 months, but Florida will try to do it in less than six months. Once the AON is approved, Florida will be eligible for additional funds to purchase land or interests in land consistent with their AON goals and objectives.

Florida’s program will encourage and support the acquisition of conservation easements on privately-owned forestlands. These easements are legally binding agreements that transfer a negotiated set of property rights from one party to another. The property remains in private ownership and forest management uses can continue. Florida will receive Federal funds from the Forest Service in a grant and then undertake the real estate transaction and accept title of conservation easements in the name of the State. Forest Legacy grants require at least a 25% non-Federal contribution. These grants are specific to Forest Legacy projects and are matched with non-Federal dollars on a project-by-project basis.

For more information about the Forest Legacy Program in Florida, contact Ed Kuester, Forest Legacy Program Administrator, Florida Division of Forestry, Phone: 850-414-9929, Fax: 850-921-6724, kuestee@doacs.state.fl.us.

Spotlight on Florida Wild Turkeys
By Larry Perrin, Wild Turkey Management Section, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Wild turkeys are considered “generalist species” meaning that they do not require specialized food or habitat. This is quite evident from the fact that wild turkeys occur from Canada to Mexico, and from Rhode Island to Hawaii. Even though wild turkeys are widely distributed, they are the same species; however, scientists have designated five subspecies of wild turkey. The two subspecies of wild turkey that occur in Florida are the Osceola, or Florida, subspecies (Meleagris gallopavo osceola) and the eastern subspecies (M. gallopavo silvestris). The difference between the Osceola and eastern subspecies is minor, with the Osceola tending to be a little darker in coloration. This is most notable on the primary feathers (large flight feathers on the wing), which have less white markings than comparable feathers of the eastern subspecies. The white markings are narrow and often do not extend across the vane of the feather.

The eastern subspecies occurs primarily throughout the eastern United States, including north Florida and the panhandle portion of the state, where, it intergrades with the Osceola. The Osceola subspecies only occurs in the peninsular portion of Florida. Consequently, turkey hunters wanting to harvest each of the turkey subspecies must come to Florida for the Osceola. This makes the Osceola an extremely valuable natural resource, which is evident by the number of non-resident turkey hunters coming to Florida each year (approximately 1,700 to 1,800 non-residents are hunting the Osceola).

While turkeys are generalist species, and can therefore live in a wide variety of plant communities and climates, a key to their well-being is vegetation structure. For the most part, turkeys prefer low, moderately open herbaceous vegetation (less than three feet in height) that they can see through, or see over, and through which they can easily move in relatively close proximity to forested cover. Such open habitat conditions help them see and avoid predators and these areas will typically provide sufficient food in terms of edible plants, fruit, seeds, and insects.

Newly hatched turkeys, referred to as poults, need grassy, open areas so they can find an abundance of insects. Such areas are usually the most critical, and often the most lacking habitat in Florida. Under ideal conditions for turkeys, grassy openings would occupy approximately 25 percent of a turkey’s home range. Openings should be scattered throughout an area, varying in size from 1 to 20 acres, and irregular in shape to maximize the amount of adjacent escape cover (moderately dense vegetation or forested areas that can provide hiding places from predators or other disturbances). Large, expansive openings (e.g., large pastures) without any escape cover are not as useful for turkeys since they generally will not venture more than 100 yards away from suitable cover.

Managing your land for turkeys
Management can be as simple as regulating the number of turkey hunters, or turkeys harvested; or can involve extensive efforts to increase the amount of available turkey habitat through the use of prescribed burning, active timber management (i.e., thinnings, daylighting roads), mowing, and the establishment of wildlife openings. Use of these, and other management elements, will depend on your particular situation with respect to your land’s features and available money, labor, and equipment.

Turkeys may easily range over a couple of thousand acres, so turkey management efforts need to consider the size of your property and what management your neighbors are doing. For instance, if you have 500 acres or less, your turkey population will likely depend a lot on the surrounding lands. In this situation, if your neighbors are doing very little management and they do not have many open areas, you can likely attract a lot of wildlife by maximizing your wildlife openings. Obviously, the opposite of this is true as well.

A popular management technique for turkeys and other wildlife is planting food plots. However, this management option can be expensive, time consuming, and unsuccessful if the weather does not cooperate. If you decide to go with food plots, conduct soil tests so the correct amount of fertilizer and lime can be applied. Although this technique has become popular, a more comprehensive approach would be to improve overall habitat conditions using management techniques such as active timber management, prescribed burning and mowing. These management applications can be applied to larger acreage and are perhaps more cost effective and beneficial for a host of wildlife, including turkeys.

Additional management points to consider:
1- Protect hardwood areas such as oak hammocks and creek bottoms as these plant communities often provide highly desirable fall and winter food sources (e.g., acorns).
2- Do not initiate predator control as a primary management tool since turkeys have evolved as a prey species and effective predator control is expensive and time consuming (it is better to spend this time and money on habitat improvements).
3- Be cautious with feeders as grain allowed to remain in moist, humid conditions, as well as grain sold as wildlife food (rather than livestock feed, e.g., deer corn), may contain sufficient amounts of aflatoxin (a poison produced by fungus) that can be detrimental to turkeys and other wildlife.
4- Do not release turkeys of any variety into the wild, since Florida law prohibits the release of any animals that may adversely affect native wildlife, or may reasonably be expected to transmit disease to naturally occurring wildlife. Pen-reared turkeys will not have the wildness necessary to survive and reproduce, and they can potentially spread disease to existing wild turkeys. Improving habitat is a much better management approach.

Larry Perrin can be reached at 850-627-9674 or Larry.Perrin@fwc.state.fl.us.

Wildlife Plant Feature: Blackberry (Rubus spp.)
Blackberry is an important wildlife food and cover plant that is widely distributed throughout the eastern United States. It is a hardy plant that grows in a variety of climates and may do well in both cool, northeastern regions and hot, central Florida locations.

Form: blackberries (otherwise called brambles) are perennial shrubs that are characteristically armed with sharp barbs along the stems and midribs of the leaves.

Leaves: often compound, with 3 to 5 leaflets with serrated edges.

Flowers: small, white, 5-petaled flowers grow in loose clusters near the tips of the branches.

Fruit: an edible cluster, 3/4" to 1" long, of tiny drupelets that turn deep bluish-black when ripe.

Wildlife value: the fruit is an important food source for many wildlife species including black bear, deer, rabbit, and numerous songbirds. Deer also browse on the leaves and woody shoots. Small mammals, game birds and snakes frequently use blackberry thickets for shelter and nesting sites.

Reference

Miller, J.H. and K.V. Miller. 1999. Forest Plants of the Southeast and their Wildlife Uses. Southern Weed Science Society. Champaign, Ill. 454 pp.

For more information on wildlife food plants see the reference above or the University of Florida's 4-H Companion Plant page at www.sfrc.ufl.edu/4h/Trees_Plants/Plants/plants.html



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 per ton for each product is now included in parentheses after the price per cord.

Stumpage price ranges reported across Florida in the 1st quarter 2003 Timber Mart-South (TMS) report were $17-$20/cord ($6-$9/ton) for pine pulpwood, $43-$70/cord ($16-$26/ton) for pine C-N-S, $72-$100/cord ($27-$37/ton) for pine sawtimber, and $98-$118/cord ($36-$44/ton) for pine plylogs. On average, prices were down for all products from 4th quarter 2002 prices. Hardwood pulpwood prices ranged from $14-$21/cord ($5-$7/ton), which was up slightly from those of the previous quarter. A more complete summary of 1st quarter 2003 stumpage prices is available at your County Extension office.

Trend Report

South-wide average prices varied for the major timber products last quarter. Continuing wet weather across the region kept average pulpwood prices on the rise. Pine sawtimber prices remained strong, above those of a year ago, but pine chip-n-saw lost most of the quarter’s gains and continues its downward trend. This slump for C-N-S is reportedly due to a lower demand for smaller, low-quality sawtimber. Hardwood pulpwood stumpage prices are strong, only a few cents below the south-wide record high price set in early 1998.

Click on the link to see the graph - use the "Back" function to return here.


Stewardship Mailing List - We Still Need Your Help
We’re still looking for updated addresses. U.S. Post Offices in some parts of the state are no longer delivering to route-box addresses (example: RR 1 Box 234). They will only deliver to 911 addresses: a house number followed by a road, street, drive, lane, circle, place, etc. (example:123 Hound Dog Rd). PO Box addresses are good too. If you currently have a route-box address and know your 911 address, please take a moment to send your 911 address to Chris Demers at University of Florida, PO Box 110410, Gainesville, FL 32611; or cdemers@mail.ifas.ufl.edu. If you don’t know your 911 address, ask your local post office. If your 911 address is not yet available, simply send it to us when it is. Thanks very much in advance for your help!