|A University of Florida Cooperative Extension
Service and Florida Division of Forestry joint project:
Chris Latt (editor), School of Forest Resources
& Conservation, UF, P.O. Box 110410, Gainesville, FL 32611-0410,
(352) 846-2375 or CRLA@gnv.ifas.ufl.edu
|Springtime in Florida is splashed with color as our flowering plants
– dogwoods, redbuds, azaleas – burst into bloom. But springtime also
harkens the arrival of a not-so-welcome guest: the wildfire season. Hence,
the three main articles in this issue of The Florida Forest Steward all
deal with wildfire topics. The first provides some indication of what we
can expect during the coming months. The second provides guidelines for
protecting your home from wildfires. And the third recommends actions you
can take to minimize damage from insect outbreaks in burned-over stands.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that all three of these articles are based fairly closely on publications I downloaded from the internet. I decided to reprint the information here because it is important and relevant at this time of year, but also because I want to demonstrate how valuable a tool the internet can be and, hopefully, whet your curiosity. No matter what interests you, you can investigate it on the internet. It's not difficult. In fact once you get the hang of it, exploring the internet is easy, perhaps even addictive. Our recent survey of participants in the Florida Stewardship Program showed that the majority of you have access to the internet. Yet, relatively few respondents had used it to obtain forestry information. I encourage you to give it a try.
On the topic of the Forest Stewardship survey, our sincere thanks go out to everyone who responded. We haven't finished tabulating the results yet but from what I've seen, we're getting very useful information. In the next issue of the newsletter, we will share the results with you, and address some of the issues you've raised. Thanks again.
|Wildfire Season Forecast|
|For each quarter of the year, the Fire Protection Bureau of the Division
of Forestry produces a wildfire forecast that provides information on current
conditions, the long-range outlook, and expectations for wildfire activity.
The forecast for March-May 1999 is given below.
First, some background information. The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is a mathematical system that relates current and recent weather conditions to potential or expected fire behavior. It is widely used by fire managers in the South to evaluate the risk of wildfires, so they can prepare and respond accordingly. Higher drought index values indicate drier conditions and higher wildfire risk. Values from 0 to 400 indicate normal or near-normal risk; values from 400 to 600 indicate an increasing risk of wildfires and increasing difficulty in controlling fires that ignite; and values from 600 to 800 indicate a high risk of wildfire and high difficulty of control. When the drought index reaches 800, "desert-like" conditions prevail. During last year's spring and summer fires, the drought index ranged between 730 and 798.
Current Conditions Around Florida
Fire Season Expectations
For Additional Information and Updates
Do you want to see an up-to-date map of fire conditions throughout Florida? On the Forest Protection Bureau main page, click on "Fire Weather/Danger Maps." Under the "Current and Forecast Maps" heading, click on "National Fire Danger Rating System." You will see a table with dates along the left side and headings across the top: KBDI, FM (fuel moisture), etc. To get a drought index map for March 25, follow the row for March 25 from left to right until you intersect the column under KBDI...click on that cell, and up comes the map.
|Protecting Your Home From Forest Fire|
||Since many of you live on your forest property, your homes, as well
as your forests, are threatened by the wildfires that occur in Florida
each year when rainfall decreases during the spring and fall. The following
guidelines will help you protect your home during the next fire season.
Fireproofing Your Home
Preventing Fires From Starting
Creating A Fire-Resistant Landscape
Within 50 feet of your home:
Even if your property is too small for a prescribed burn, your support for this practice is critical. Controlled burns reduce the amount of fuel in forest stands, so decrease the risk of runaway wildfires. Everyone is safer, including folks who live in towns or have no forestland. Development and population growth are making it increasingly difficult to conduct controlled burns in Florida. Let public officials know that you support controlled burns, and tell your neighbors how this practice can reduce wildfire risk.
Recommendations given in this article were taken from the publication, Protecting Your Home From Forest Fire, by Martha Monroe and Alan Long, assistant professors in the University of Florida's School of Forest Resources and Conservation. To read or download this publication, visit the SFRC web site: www.sfrc.ufl.edu/Extension/ or contact your county extension office.
|Insects and the Wildfires of 1998: Reducing the Risk of Additional Tree Losses|
||This article is based primarily on the publication, Insects and the
Wildfires of 1998, produced by the Southern Pine Beetle Working Group,
a committee of State, Federal, university, private and industrial forestry
workers appointed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer
Services, Division of Forestry. To read or download this publication, visit
the Pest Alert website at:
The wildfires of 1998 killed millions of trees, causing significant losses for many forest landowners. Unfortunately, the damage caused by last year's fires may continue into 1999. Insect attacks may pick up where the wildfires left off. The information contained in this article will help you to evaluate and minimize your risk. Some of the advice (for example, the prompt removal of fire-damaged trees) may come too late to help victims of last year's fires, but other recommendations can be applied now. Even if you weren't affected by the fires of 1998, remember: wildfires occur every year. If your timberland is damaged by wildfire (or another type of disaster) sometime in the future, the information provided here can help you reduce tree deaths and economic loss.
Trees damaged and stressed by the wildfires, as well as apparently healthy
trees, are at high risk of attack by different insects. Several factors
influence the buildup of pest insect populations after wildfires:
The timely removal of fire-damaged trees, and trees that are already infested by insects, is an important step in reducing the threat of insect outbreaks. Quick recovery of tree health also reduces the risk. On the other hand, the likelihood of insect outbreaks increases if fire-damaged trees suffer additional stress in the months following the fires. Drought, poor soil fertility, severe storms, and other disturbances can further weaken a tree, increasing the amount of time it requires to regain its resistence to insect attack. Many parts of Florida experienced extended drought towards the end of 1998, so trees in these areas may be particularly vulnerable to insect outbreaks. Severe weather, such as tornadoes and hurricanes, can also stress trees, by weakening root systems and breaking branches.
Harvest larger and more severely damaged areas of sawtimber first, then work towards removal of smaller patches of smaller trees. In forest settings, it is advisable to leave scattered, individual, fire-damaged trees if they are located in areas that were not seriously damaged by fire. Removing trees from these stands may stress and injure surrounding trees, aggravating the pest problem. However, in harvested areas, don't be tempted to retain isolated trees as potential survivors. These trees were probably stressed or injured during harvesting and may provide a foci for future pest activity.
Frequently revisit all remaining areas of burned residual forest and investigate any new or enlarging pockets of pine mortality. If bark beetles are present, try to identify the species, so you can determine the appropriate response. Southern pine beetles should be given high priority for control because of their potentially aggressive nature. Your County Forester can assist you in evaluating possible insect problems.
Delay planting pine seedlings within or adjacent to burned areas for one planting season (until the winter of 1999-2000) because seedlings planted earlier may be killed by debarking weevils. If you can't delay planting, seedlings should be treated with an approved insecticide labeled for use against regeneration weevils.
Lastly, during 1999, avoid any type of forest disturbance (e.g., thinning, burning) within one-half mile of significant wildfire activity because such disturbances can greatly increase the risk of pest outbreaks and associated tree deaths.
Evaluation of Tree Damage
Correct identification of dead, dying and soon-to-be-killed trees is essential when evaluating risk, but be aware that readily visible fire damage may be misleading. Pines often recover from 100% crown scorch if the roots, trunk, and buds in the crown were uninjured. In contrast, pines with full, green crowns will die if significant portions of their roots and basal cambium were destroyed by fire. Cambium is the layer of cells, located between a tree's bark and wood, which gives rise to both the inner bark and wood. When the cambium is destroyed, a tree cannot produce the vascular tissue it needs to transport food, water, and nutrients from one part of the tree to another. In effect, the tree has been girdled.
Significant destruction of vascular tissue in any one of a tree's three main parts–roots, stem, or crown–will be lethal even if the other two parts appear uninjured. The following criteria are guidelines for assessing fire effects on pine trees.
Evidence of any one of the following factors indicates a dead, dying,
or soon-to-be-killed pine tree:
Any combination of two or more of the following factors indicates a
dead, dying, or soon-to-be-killed pine tree:
Insects After the Fire
The black turpentine beetle colonizes large roots and the lower trunk of dead and dying pines. It is the largest bark beetle (about 1/4 to 1/3 inch long), cylindrical in shape, dark brown-to-black, and has a rounded, spineless rear end. Infested trees are often scattered throughout a stand and may be difficult to detect. Signs of infestation include fading foliage, round holes (1/8 to 1/4 inch wide) in the bark, and large pitch masses (about 1 inch wide) on the lower 3 to 8 feet of the trunk.
The southern pine beetle resembles the black turpentine beetle but is much smaller (about 1/8 inch long). Signs of infestation are similar to Ips engraver beetles. Outbreaks of southern pine beetle are usually associated with large areas of stressed loblolly pine, so little activity is expected in the slash and longleaf stands damaged in 1998.
The easiest way to identify the species of bark beetle infesting your
trees is to remove some bark and look at the size and shape of the beetles
and their associated egg galleries (the tunnels the insects make under
the bark). All five species of bark beetle may occur on the same tree.
|SIP Cost Shares|
|As many of you are aware, the 1999 Federal budget contained no money for Stewardship Incentive Program (SIP) cost shares. Things should be better next year because the Administration will propose $15 million for the SIP in the fiscal year 2000 budget. If you want to be considered for cost shares next year, contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office for information.|
|Timber Price Update|
|The 4th quarter, Timber-Mart South report for Florida, listed average stumpage prices in October to December, 1998 as $37/cord for pine pulpwood, $79/cord for pine C-N-S and $114/cord for pine plylogs. Prices were down slightly, the same, and up slightly for the three products, respectively, compared to third quarter prices, and were very close to fourth quarter, 1997 prices. Hardwood pulpwood averaged $12/cord, also down from the previous quarter. Stumpage prices are highly variable and the actual price for a particular timber sale can be affected by characteristics such as tract size, timber density, access, proximity to operating mills, and weather. Specific recent examples of factors affecting prices are the very low pulpwood prices in areas of the state where fires and/or mill closings occurred during the last 6 to 8 months. A more complete summary of fourth quarter stumpage prices is available at your County Extension Office. To determine current prices in your area, your best source of information will be forestry consultants and timber companies that conduct timber sales in your area.|
|A one-day dendrology/plant identification course for natural resource
professionals will be held on April 27 in Gainesville. Please note that
this date is a correction of the date mistakenly given in our last issue.
If landowners and professionals express enough interest, a modified and
shortened version may be developed to "take on the road." If you are interested,
call or email Alan Long:
Phone: (352) 846-0891
Details on these workshops will be provided as the dates draw closer.
For more information, contact Alan Long at the above numbers.
Registration fee: $60 SAF members
Last summer 500,000 acres of Florida's lands were devastated by wildfires. This symposium will bring together forestry professionals and fire management specialists to discuss what happened, why it happened, and what can be done in the future to prevent losses from wildfires.
Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, is the 1999 John Gray Distinguished Lecturer and will deliver the conference's keynote address on April 20.
For more information contact Mike Jacobson: