Volume 4, No. 4                                                                                             Summer, 1997

In this issue:
*  News from the Forested Wetlands Workshops
*  Learning about Managing & Marketing Cattle or Pine Straw on Forest Land
*  New Member of UF's Extension Team
*  Ecosystem Management in the Southeast:  Attitudes and Challenges on Fragmented Ownerships
*  Books and Articles of Interest
*  Restoing the Urban Forest Ecosystem
*  EQIP s Sign up Announced

News From the Forested Wetlands Workshops

On April 28th and 30th, two workshops on Forested Wetlands Ecology and Management were held in Nassau and Alachua counties, respectively. Jointly sponsored by the Forest Stewardship Program and the Cooperative Extension Service, the workshops were designed to provide information about forested wetlands issues and options for management to landowners and natural resource professionals.

The wetland topics covered included: types and values, wildlife issues, conservation easements, BMPs, regulations, timber management and research findings. Dr. Susan Vince, University of Florida researcher, described the different types of forested wetlands that occur in Florida, and the important role these wetlands play in the natural landscape, including flood control and protecting water quality. Dr. Peter Frederick, also from UF, then discussed the importance of these wetlands to various types of wildlife, and how activities like hunting and bird watching in forested wetlands contribute greatly to the economy.  Dr. Richard Hilsenbeck, an ecologist with The Nature Conservancy in Tallahassee described the use of conservation easements in protecting wetlands. A conservation easement is a legal agreement which can be used by landowners with forested wetland property that has unique or special natural features. A conservation easement allows landowners to sell the development rights for the property to an organization that will protect (not develop) the resources. The landowner retains title and control over how the land is managed. For example, the landowner can still manage the land for timber or hunting. This arrangement may result in both revenue and a substantial tax savings for the landowner while still protecting the natural areas from any development impacts.

Following supper, Mr. Jeff Vowell of the Florida Division of Forestry presented information on the silvicultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) recommended for forestry activities in wetlands, which were developed in 1993. Important points included limiting road building in wetlands and restricting harvesting operations to dry periods. Mr. Vowell also talked about various levels of regulation: Federal, State and local, which may require permitting for some silvicultural activities.

The timber management portion of the workshops was presented by two forest industry representatives: Dr. Tom Fox of Rayonier spoke in Nassau County and Mr. Rob Cone of Georgia-Pacific Corporation in Alachua County. Information presented included silvicultural systems appropriate for regenerating forest wetland systems and the products for which one can manage.

The final speaker at the workshops was Dr. Jim Shepard of the National Council of the Paper Industry for Air and Stream Improvement. Dr. Shepard presented results from the Florida Wetlands Study which was conducted in cooperation with the University of Florida and several other partners in Alachua County. The study looked at the ecological impacts of harvesting cypress ponds and surrounding pine plantations in comparison to no harvesting activities. One finding was that complete harvest resulted in a shift in some wetland wildlife communities to more early successional species in the early years following harvest.

Approximately 80 people attended the workshops. For more information on some of these topics, obtain Extension publications CIR1178 "Forested Wetlands: Regulations Governing Management" and CIR1185 "Forests, Hydrology and Water Quality: Impacts of Silvicultural Practices", both available through your county extension office.

Learning About Managing and Marketing Cattle or Pine Straw on Forest Land

On May 5, a multi-county workshop on Alternative Enterprises for Your Timber Land: Managing and Marketing Cattle or Pine Straw was held in Hamilton County. The workshop was a joint effort of the Hamilton County Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Forestry Forest Stewardship Program and the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida. Putnal's Premium Pine Straw, Inc and American Cyanamid graciously sponsored the workshop.

The purpose of the workshop was to provide information to ranchers and forest landowners about opportunities for additional economic benefits from managing their timber lands for cattle or pine straw. Workshop participants went on a field tour of Harrell Tyree's forest land to observe the differences between slash, loblolly and longleaf pine in growth, management and marketing. At Jerry Smith's property, they discussed management techniques for forage production in pine stands with widely-spaced rows of trees.

Following supper, four speakers presented information on cattle marketing alternatives, managing pine straw, fertilizing pines and weed and brush control recommendations. A brief summary of each presentation follows.

Cattle Marketing Alternatives

by Dr. John Holt

Cattle prices fluctuate in unpredictable cycles. The market is currently recovering from a low because of an abundant corn crop, and over supply of slaughter facilities and a strong export market (especially to Japan). The University of Florida Market Information System and Livestock Weekly are good sources of information for keeping up with the cattle market. Florida prices are $6 to $10 less than quoted Midwest prices due to a lack of nearby slaughter facilities and the greater distance to market opportunities. The best price predictor available is the futures market and current predictions are for 6% rise from May, 1997 to January, 1998.

Although "woods cows" will bring a lower market price, the most important consideration for breed selection is choosing a breed that can thrive and reproduce under the field conditions we find in Florida. For example, a Brahma cross is a good choice because of greater heat tolerance, longevity and calf size. Another factor that is as important as breed selection is marketing strategies. Pooling cows with your neighbors for a sale can attract more buyers and improve your return. You should try to assemble a group of one hundred or more similar looking cows to attract more competitive buyers. Another way of improving your return is to consult with your cattle market manager to help time your sale to coincide with order buyers seeking your product.

Managing Pine Straw

by Mr. Scott Hamlin

Since the beginning of the industry in 1971, the demand for pine straw for landscaping has steadily increased. Both slash and longleaf pine are excellent species for generating alternative income from pine straw. There is no market for loblolly pine straw because the needles are shorter and do not hold their color.

An ideal site is planted at 8 to 10 ft row spacing where crown closure has shaded out the undergrowth. For slash pine plantations, shading typically occurs at eight years of age. The minimum row width for equipment access is eight feet, however wider spacings can delay crown closure in a stand. Thinning is another management practice that influences pine straw management. It promotes growth of undesirable underbrush which makes harvesting pine straw more difficult and significantly reduces product value. Pine straw is typically harvested by hand to avoid breaking the needles.

Contracts for pine straw are usually done on an annual basis by acre, although sites that require herbicide treatment may have extended contracts. Current prices range from $60 to $80 acre/yr depending on the tree species, number of trees per acre and undergrowth conditions. When negotiating a contract, your pine straw contractor should provide proof of workman's compensation insurance and liability insurance. You may also want to consider fertilizer applications as part of the contract and a payment schedule.

Ask Your County Extension Agent for copies of these publications:

Fertilizing and Weed Control in Pines

by Dr. Alan Long

Forest soils in the Southeast are generally nutrient deficient. This is especially noticeable with respect to phosphorus at planting time and both phosphorus and nitrogen by mid-rotation. Therefore, fertilization can dramatically increase tree growth (up to 40 cords/acre over a rotation) and profits, if done correctly.

Fertilization is especially critical for wet, poorly drained sandy soils like wet prairies and flatwoods. These sites often require phosphorus application (40 to 50 lbs phosphorus/acre) at planting time for successful stand establishment. Mid-rotation fertilization (40 to 50 lbs of phosphorus/acre and 150 to 200 lbs of nitrogen/acre) will also significantly improve stand growth on many sites (2 to 5 cords/acre).

Stand establishment on better drained loamy soils will probably not benefit from fertilization at planting. In fact, fertilization of these soils may actually stimulate weed growth. A better strategy for these well drained loamy sites is to eliminate weed competition for the existing nutrients, and to fertilize mid-rotation at the same rates as described in the previous paragraph.

Fertilization of dry sandhills and wet peat soils is of limited value because growth is limited by too little or too much water. Frequent burning of sandhills is not recommended because it will reduce soil organic matter and lower the water holding capacity of the soil. Old agriculture sites may not require fertilization because of residual fertilizers.

Mid-rotation fertilization should be done at least five to eight years before the intended harvest date to give the trees time to uptake nutrients, increase their needle growth, and accumulate wood growth. Fertilization is more productive after thinning because there is room for the tree crowns to grow. Burning just before or just after fertilization will decrease the soils' ability to hold nutrients and the heat will volatilize nitrogen. Less nitrogen will be volatilized if you fertilize in the winter or spring. Repetitive removal of pine straw (three or more rakings) may require re-fertilization to replace the removed nutrients (200 lbs/acre of nitrogen and 50 lbs/acre of phosphorus).

Early control of herbaceous and woody weeds will make nutrients and water more available to pine trees and can provide lasting growth benefits (an average increase of 0.5 cord/acre/year). However, herbicide management requires careful planning to be effective and safe. Management objectives, site characteristics, and climatic conditions need to be matched with the appropriate herbicide treatment. You should choose a reputable applicator with the proper certification, insurance and ground support crew. Your County Forester can provide you with a list of applicators. All labels should be read first and obeyed as they are the law. Keep good records to document what was done and to help evaluate the success of the treatment.

New Member of the University of Florida Extension Team

Michael Jacobson is a name that you will probably become familiar with as a participant in the Stewardship Program. He is the newest member of the University of Florida's forest extension faculty and his area of specialization is forest management and landowner issues. In addition to his extension assignment, Mike will be teaching two courses a year. Although originally from South Africa, he immigrated to Connecticut twenty years ago. His wife recently gave birth to their first child, a girl.

Mike is currently getting acquainted with forestry in Florida. His last position was at North Carolina State University's College of Forest Resources where he also obtained his Ph. D in Forest Resources. With a Masters degree in Environmental Management from Duke University and a Bachelors degree in Economics from the University of Connecticut, he has a strong background inforest economics and policy. Mike has also worked overseas in tropical forestry. The following article is an abstract from Mike's dissertation on the incentives and attitudes that affect non-industrial private forestry in the Southeast.

Ecosystem Management in the Southeast: Attitudes and Challenges on Fragmented Ownerships

Forestry is evolving towards ecosystem or landscape-level management approaches in many places. In the southeastern United States, much of the forest landscape is fragmented due to the millions of non-industrial private forest landowners each managing according to their individual objectives. One of the goals of ecosystem management is to reduce the negative effects of forest fragmentation. Managing at the landscape-level in the Southeast will require the cooperation of many landowners. This research was a first step in the process of identifying ownership characteristics and landowner attitudes about and interest in ecosystem management.

A survey instrument and computerized geographical information system (GIS) were used as tools to analyze landowner interest in ecosystem management. The study was carried out in a heavily forested region of the Coastal Plain of South Carolina, where the landscape-level management objective was to develop a landscape corridor system across ownerships. Landowners who participate in the corridor system would provide an important public service.

The survey results indicated that a majority of the respondents were interested in joint management. However, only one-third of the respondents were familiar with the concept of ecosystem management. The results are somewhat different from previous studies of non-industrial private landowners in size of tracts owned and percentage of inherited land. Incentives and attitudes were more significant than socio-economic or land management characteristics in explaining responses to joint management. Spatial attributes of landowner properties, including land cover, were also found to be insignificant in explaining landowner interest in ecosystem management. Maps displaying the respondent's tracts showed little connectivity among "yes" responses in joint management. Protecting commodity and land values was the main concern of landowners if they were to participate in a corridor system.

This study suggests that compensation and/or assistance will be important mechanisms for involving landowners in joint management to provide land for corridors or similar landscape level practices. More specific details about ecosystem plans will be required if alternatives such as voluntary approaches to landscape level management are tried. Further information is needed on the altruistic reasons for landowner cooperation in joint management.

Books and Articles of Interest:

Two recent publications of the US Forest Service Southern Research Station may be of interest to landowners who have wildlife management or recreation objectives for their forest land. Be sure to give the name, author and title of the publication as well as the publication number, when requesting an article from:

Southern Research Station
P.O. Box 2680
Asheville, NC  28802                                                                                                    

Describes procedures for monitoring birds using point counts, recording data (with forms to use), and explains how to use different sample sizes for a variety of specific management questions.

This study looked at bird populations in pine plantations age two to seventeen years and found that bird populations were low as well as being less diverse in two year old plantations. Bird abundance increased rapidly as the plantation developed until age six. Bird species diversity also increased until age ten to eleven and then gradually declined as the canopy closed and shaded out the lower vegetation. From age 12-17, the type of bird community was directly related to the presence of hardwood shrubs and trees in the pine plantation.

Also available from the USDA Southern Research Station is a new publication that is a comprehensive review of 50 years of research results on loblolly and shortleaf pine management. The General and Technical Report S-118 entitled, Uneven-Aged Silviculture for the Loblolly and Shortleaf Pine Forest Cover Types includes information on growth, yield and stand development, options for retaining hardwoods, silvicultural practices needed for maintaining an uneven-aged stand and sample forms for determining stocking levels, inventory and evaluation of reproduction.

Interested in Forest Aesthetics?

Three technical papers focusing on forestry aesthetics from both industry representatives and a private non-industrial forester are now available from the American Pulpwood Associations Annual Meeting held on April 7th at Hilton Head, SC for $5 each to APA members and $10 to all others:

American Pulpwood Association, Inc.
600 Jefferson Plaza, Suite 350
Rockville, MD  20852
Phone:  301-838-9385
Fax:  301-838-9481

Interactive Information on Wildfire

If you have ever wanted to ask an expert about fire management, this homepage is for you. Located at: http://www.firewise.org is an interactive section with fire experts, the opportunity to register to receive future updates of fire information and a bibliography of publications and videos.

Restoring the Urban Forest Ecosystem is the Theme of the Upcoming Urban Forestry Institute

Professionals who manage the urban forest are constantly facing challenges. Ecological restoration of urban forests has become essential for those trying to maximize the benefits to communities and cities. The Urban Forestry Institute offers up-to-date information about ecological restoration in the urban forest. The course will cover ecology and restoration principles, planning, resource assessments and implementation of restoration projects, problem-solving case studies and a one-day field trip. To enroll in this intensive course offered by the University of Florida School of Forest Resources & Conservation, CES and USDA Forest Service from June 23-27 in Fort Lauderdale, FL contact:

IFAS Office of Conferences
University of Florida
PO Box 110750
Gainesville, FL  32611-0750
Phone:  352-392-5930
Fax:  352-392-9734
Email:  kmgil@gnv.ifas.ufl.edu

EQIP Sign Up Announced

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept landowner applications for the new Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) from June 16th to July 18 at their office.

Forestry practices on agricultural, forested, and non-stocked forest land will be eligible for cost-sharing under EQIP, as in the past with the Agricultural Conservation Program (ACP). All EQIP practices, however, will be multi-year Long Term Agreements (LTA's) with a maximum annual cost-share of $10,000. The amount of EQIP funds that are allocated to forestry practices will be determined by landowner interest and the Environmental Benefit Index (EBI) scores that each application receives. These EBI's will be similar to the ones developed for the recent Conservation Reserve Program sign up. The Local Working Group in each Conservation Priority Area (CPA), however, will develop its own EBI.

Applicants whose farms are located within the CPAs will collectively receive 65% of the state's EQIP allocation. Ask your County Foresters to find out what portion of your county lies within the CPA. If you are willing to follow the same guidelines which are suggested for the Conservation Reserve Program, you are likely to receive higher EBI scores. These guidelines include planting longleaf pine, planting less than 500 trees/acre of other species, or leaving 40 foot wide open strips.

Ask your County Forester about the date and location of the next Local Working Group meeting in your area.

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

Anne Todd Bockarie  (editor), School of Forest Resources & Conservation, UF, P.O. Box 110410, Gainesville, FL  32611-0410
Alan Long (co-editor), School of Forest Resources & Conservation, UF
Charles Marcus (co-editor), Florida Division of Forestry, 3125 Conner Blvd, Tallahassee, FL  32699-1650