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THE FLORIDA FOREST STEWARD  A Quarterly Newsletter for Florida Landowners and Resource Professionals
Volume 7, No. 3                                                             Fall 2000
Welcome Leslie Hawkins, Stewardship Biologist
Attack of the Southern Pine Beetle
Greenhouse Gas Affects Tree Growth
Black Bears in Florida
Emergency FIP
Timber Prices - Another Look
Ask Joe Steward
SFRC Workshops for Landowners and Professionals
Forest Stewardship Program
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 
Alan Long (co-editor), School of Forest Resources & Conservation, UF, (352) 846-0891 or 
Todd Groh (co-editor), Florida Division of Forestry, 3125 Conner Blvd, Tallahassee, FL 32699-1650, (850) 414-9907 or 
Chuck McKelvy (co-editor), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 3125 Conner Blvd, Tallahassee, FL 32699-1650, (850) 414-9911 or

 Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida 

Welcome Leslie Hawkins, Stewardship Biologist
By now many of you have met Leslie Hawkins, who replaced Daniel Coggin as the Stewardship Biologist for the eastern half of the State.  Leslie is originally from Indiana, but has lived in 7 different states in the last 9 years working as a wildlife technician and on her masters degree.  She earned a B.S. in Wildlife Science from Purdue University in 1993, and has recently completed a M.S. in Wildlife Biology from Clemson University. 

Most of Leslie's experience has been in nest searching and point counts for songbirds with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Denver, and she has performed similar tasks with private avian research  centers in Oklahoma and California.  In addition to songbird counts, she has done her share of trapping and banding various bird species as well as prairie dogs and deer. 

For her M.S. degree, she studied northern bobwhite quail and its use of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) loblolly pine plantations following commercial thinnings.  This project involved trapping, banding, radio telemetry, and using geographic information systems  in rural South Carolina. 

Leslie enjoys recreating outdoors as well, partaking in many activities including hunting, canoeing, hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing.  If you have forest property east of Jefferson County and are interested in the Stewardship Program you will probably meet Leslie in the near future.  Those of you who have met her know that she is energetic, motivated, resourceful, and learning her way around rural Florida with great enthusiasm. 

Attack of the Southern Pine Beetle
Like people, trees are more susceptible to attack or infection when they are tired or run down. For trees, we refer to this tired or run down state as stress.  The recent drought caused many pines in north Florida to become targets for the southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis), one of the most serious pine pests in the southern U.S.  Jim Meeker, Forest Entomologist with the Division of Forestry, reported recent southern pine beetle activity in 17 northeast Florida counties, with a total of 1,110 damage spots covering 5,330 acres as of August 23.  The counties hardest hit by the recent outbreak were Hernando, with 352 spots covering 4,000 acres; Levy, with 317 spots covering 400 acres; and Alachua, with 100 spots covering 300 acres.  Other counties had damage varying from 2 spots covering 1 acre (Gilchrist) to 23 spots covering 163 acres (Flagler).  State lands have been hit as well.  Withlacoochee State Forest (in Hernando County) has 100 spots covering 1,000-1,500 acres, and Goethe State Forest (in Levy County) has 91 spots.  All identified active spots in these state forests are under control. 

adult southern pine beetle, USDAIdentification 
Southern pine beetles are short-legged, about 1/8 inch long, and dark reddish-brown to black in color.  They have a notched head and a rounded rear.  The larvae are crescent-shaped and whitish, with an amber head.  When fully developed the larvae are about the same length as the adults.  Pupae are the same size and white in color.  Eggs are pearly-white and are found in notches along the sides of the adult egg galleries found in the inner bark of attacked trees. 

Adult beetles bore through the outer bark into the inner bark, or cambium (the living tissue that feeds the tree).  At each bore hole the tree usually exudes a resin, which forms a pitch tube.  Once inside, the beetles construct winding s-shaped galleries that cross one another and eventually girdle the tree.  After eggs hatch, the larvae add to these galleries.  Spread of blue-stain fungi introduced by the beetles hastens the death of the tree.  The first sign of tree mortality from southern pine beetles is discoloration of the foliage.  Needles become yellowish, change to red and then brown.  To identify damage from southern pine beetles look for the s-shaped galleries in the cambium underneath the bark. A birds-eye-view of southern pine beetle damage reveals a target-like spot, with dead trees in the center appearing red and trees attacked more recently appearing more yellow to green toward the edges. 

Cyclic outbreaks of southern pine beetle are brought under control by diseases, predators, parasites, and weather.  Landowners can use integrated pest management techniques to suppress outbreaks if necessary.  The most recommended practice is rapid removal of infested trees, utilization of merchantable wood, and burning of infested materials.  Using infested wood to build structures near other pine stands is a bad idea because these materials can introduce the beetles into those stands. 

Beware of Other Insects 
Bear in mind that the southern pine beetle is not the only insect that can damage pine stands.  Other insects, such as the ips engraver beetle, black turpentine beetle, ambrosia beetle, and southern pine sawyer are also common invaders of southern pines.  The ips engraver is the second most common damaging insect for southern pines.  Signs of attack by ips engravers are reddish-brown boring dust in bark crevices or dime-size, reddish-brown pitch tubes on bark surfaces.  Y- or H-shaped galleries appear beneath the bark with short galleries running perpendicular to them.  Blue-stain fungi are also introduced by ips engravers and will expedite tree mortality. 

Black turpentine beetle damage will be found low on the tree as they attack fresh stumps or the lower trunk of living pines, usually about 2 feet from the ground.  Look for half-dollar-sized, white to reddish-brown pitch tubes in bark crevices on the lower tree bole.  Ambrosia beetles, which attack both pines and hardwoods, leave behind a pile of fine white dust below the entrance holes or at the base of the tree.  Southern pine sawyers generally attack dead pines or logs held in storage. 

For more information on insects and diseases affecting southern pines, visit the USDA Forest Service's Forest Health Protection web site at

Greenhouse Gas Affects Tree Growth 
ABC News recently reported on a Duke University study of the impact of increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) on tree growth and forest species composition.  Over the last 4 years, scientists at Duke have inundated an experimental forest with CO2, the principal greenhouse gas produced by burning fossil fuels.  An increasing concentration of atmospheric CO2 is expected to elevate global temperatures over coming decades by reflecting radiant heat from the Earth back to the surface, causing sea levels to rise and altering plant species composition around the world. The goal of the project is to provide scientific facts about the impact of increased CO2 levels. 
One finding of the study is that some trees, namely loblolly pines, grow more rapidly and reproduce more robustly as a result of increased atmospheric CO2.  Loblollies in the study have been growing about 25 percent faster and are twice as likely to be reproductively active than pines outside the experiment.  Hardwoods in the study, mostly oaks and hickories, are also growing more rapidly than those outside the experiment. 

Increased CO2 may be a good thing for loblolly pines, but they are only a small part of the picture.  Increased global temperatures, if realized, may alter the occurrence of other species and ecosystems.  The latest issue of the Society of American Foresters' Forestry Source newsletter (vol. 5, no. 8) reported a University of Alaska study on the effects of rising temperatures on the growth of white spruce in the Alaskan interior.  Researchers there have found that growth of white spruce has responded negatively to higher temperatures.  A warming trend in the Alaskan interior has resulted in more arid conditions, inhibiting growth and CO2 intake by the species.  Drought-stressed trees are more susceptible to fungal invasions, and increasing numbers of dead trees in the region may add fuel for potential forest fires.  Likewise, researchers at Columbia University's Biosphere 2 in Arizona found that increases in ocean water temperature could slowly dissolve coral reefs, and low-lying coastal regions could be underwater if predictions of sea level rise are realized. 

Forests as a whole will almost surely change in the future, as they have in response to past climate changes.  Many scientists expect changes in competitive dynamics between species and a change in overall species composition as a result of predicted CO2 levels.  Forests will likely be dominated by those species that can efficiently use CO2 and adapt to climate change at the expense of others.  Others argue that these predictions will never come true because they believe that forests will expand and absorb excess atmospheric CO2.

Black Bears in Florida 
By B. Wayne Harris, Wildlife Biologist, Forest Stewardship Program
The Florida black bear (Ursus americanus floridanus) is our state's largest native land mammal.  Though averaging about 300 pounds, male bears can weigh up to 600 pounds while females are notably smaller.  The largest black bear ever recorded in Florida, a 624 pound male, was road killed in Collier County in 1968.  Most bears have a mostly black coat with a brown muzzle.  Blonde or white patches are fairly common on the chest.  The hind foot of a black bear produces a track that closely resembles an extra wide human track with claw marks at the ends of the toes.  These hind tracks may be up to 9 inches long.  The prints from the front foot are more rounded and smaller in size. 

Most Florida black bears live in heavily forested landscapes.  Pine flatwoods, sandhill scrub, and dense ti-ti swamps seem to be preferred for an optimum mixture of good food and cover resources.  The typical diet of a Florida black bear includes a combination of plant and animal material.  Common foods include acorns, cabbage palm, gallberries, palmetto berries, blackberries, grubs, termites, and beetles.  Bears will also eat armadillos, wild pigs, deer, and on rare occasion, livestock. 

Home range size can vary greatly in black bears, but averages about 70 square miles (44,800 acres) for adult males and 10 square miles (6,400 acres) for adult females.  These ranges may be defended seasonally for limited resources from other bears, but range overlap is normal, particularly between males and females.  The larger range size of males is due to the need to associate with as many females as possible during the breeding season. 

Florida black bears once roamed the entire state, as well as south Alabama and south Georgia. Now they are more or less restricted to five sub-populations across the state.  These sub-populations are generally associated with Eglin Air Force Base in the western panhandle, Apalachicola National Forest in the eastern panhandle, Osceola National Forest along the Georgia state line, Ocala National Forest in north-central Florida, and Big Cypress National Preserve in the southwestern portion of the state. 

Black Bear Distribution in Florida
Although bears are usually secretive and fairly timid around people, bear-human interactions are on the rise as more bear habitat is developed.  If you happen to encounter a bear in the forest, the best idea is to enjoy the experience from a distance.  Make some sort of noise to let the bear know that you are there but never attempt to feed one.  Feeding can reduce bears' natural fear of humans and create a possible danger for you and future observers.  If you see a bear in a suburban setting you should contact the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and leave the bear alone.  Chasing or scaring bears will often cause them to climb trees, therefore lengthening an unwanted experience for the bear and most residents.

Emergency FIP 
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Bob Crawford announced that Florida landowners, whose forests were damaged by wildfire, flood, insects, or drought in 1998 through 2000, may be eligible for Federal cost-share funds under the Forestry Incentives Program (FIP) for reforestation.  Congress has now extended eligibility to include disasters that occurred in 2000.  Nearly $1 million in disaster funds are still available from the original allocation made by Congress for emergency tree planting assistance. 

To qualify for this emergency tree planting assistance, applicants must be private, non-industrial forest landowners with less than 5,000 acres of total US forestland ownership, and have at least five (5) acres of damaged timberland that they want to reforest.  In addition, landowners can only receive cost-share reimbursement up to $10,000 per federal fiscal year.  The assistance includes cost sharing for site preparation and tree planting. 

The cost-share will cover up to 65% of the cost to re-establish a forest stand.  Eligible landowners are encouraged to investigate this new opportunity to receive assistance for replanting damaged timberland.  The following is a summary of the Emergency FIP guidelines: 

Disaster damages must have occurred between the dates of January 1, 1998 through December 31, 2000. 

Disasters covered include wildfire, drought, flood, and related insect damage (southern pine beetle). 

Landowners owning more than 1,000 acres must receive a waiver from the Division of Forestry Director.  County foresters can initiate the waiver process. 

The Program will pay up to 65% of site preparation and planting costs if they do not exceed average statewide costs for each practice. 

County foresters have technical responsibility for the program and determine if damages are disaster related and what site preparation is required. 

The Division of Forestry and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have established a continuous sign-up to help facilitate the application process.  Applications for Emergency FIP are available at your local NRCS office or contact your county forester.

Timber Prices - Another Look 
By Alan Long and Chris Demers
Perhaps the most frequent question we are asked in extension revolves around what prices a landowner might expect for a sale of their timber. Although you may be able to tune in a noontime broadcast to hear daily prices for corn, wheat or other agricultural crops, no such opportunity exists for timber. Each timber sale is unique in: acreage, tree size, volume, quality, accessibility, distance to markets (different production facilities) and a host of other variables. 

Timber prices are initially dependent on what mills are willing to pay for wood delivered to their woodyards. Those prices are, in turn, dependent on the national and international markets for their finished products (lumber, plywood, poles, paper or pulp).  Demands for those products, such as new housing starts in the U.S., are cyclical, and one product (lumber, for example) may be high in demand (and therefore in mill prices) at the same time that another product (say, paper) is facing stiff international competition and prices are low. Delivered prices at the mill are also dependent on the particular production costs at that mill. Thus, pulpwood sold to two mills, side-by-side, may be valued differently because of different mill designs and market outlets. 

In addition to variations in woodyard prices, each possible buyer of your timber has their own unique set of variables to deal with in terms of: the particular equipment they own or can lease, their debt and capital structure, mills to which they haul the timber, and other sales they are currently working. So, their operating costs for your particular sale will rarely be the same. 

With these two major factors, delivered prices at the mill and harvesting costs, timber buyers compute what they can afford to pay a landowner for their timber sale. It is no wonder that landowners will often (if not all the time) see a fairly large range in prices bid or offered for their timber. And it is almost a guarantee that the landowner will never see a buyer offer a price that exactly matches the average price that was recorded in a timber price report for a previous three-month period for a large part of Florida. 

Where is this leading?  We have regularly reported in this newsletter a brief summary of the most recent Timber Mart-South (TMS) timber prices for northern Florida and have provided a more detailed summary to county extension offices. Unfortunately, those prices are too often construed as what a landowner should expect if they try to sell their timber today, which is usually several months beyond the three-month period included in the averages. In reality, current prices relative to any TMS report are almost always going to be higher or lower than the report. Rarely, if ever, will they be the same. Thus, our report in this newsletter will cover the range (low-high) of values reported in the most recent TMS report, which covers the period from April to June this year. We still offer no assurance that prices for a particular sale today will even fall within that range.  As in past issues, we reiterate that your best source of information on current stumpage prices will be timber buyers and forestry consultants in your area who are actively in the timber market. You may want to check and see if any of them use email lists to inform interested landowners when prices start rising (or going the other way). 

If we have created more questions than we have answered, send them to us and we will return to this issue in the next newsletter. 

The Report 
Stumpage price ranges reported across Florida in the 2nd quarter 2000 Timber-Mart South report were: $14-$36/cord for pine pulpwood, $60-$86/cord for pine C-N-S, $84-$138/cord for pine sawtimber, and $101-$125/cord for pine plylogs.  Prices were generally down for all four products compared to 1st quarter prices.  Average hardwood pulpwood prices ranged from $6-$25/cord, which was up slightly from the previous quarter.  A more complete summary of 2nd quarter stumpage prices is available at your County Extension Office. 

Long-term Trends 
Pine pulpwood markets have nearly disappeared in parts of the southeast due to a continuing flood of wood. Persisting dry weather, CRP thinnings, and increased quantities of salvaged timber in some areas have translated into mills needing very little pulpwood.  Both chip-n-saw and sawtimber have shown definite upward trends in average price over the same period.  According to F&W Newsletter No. 65 (Spring 2000), the demand for new home construction is the principal driver of demand for, and price of, sawtimber.  New housing starts continued an upward trend in the first quarter despite increased interest rates, but the decrease in sawtimber prices in the second quarter may reflect that change.  Most forecasters predict that construction markets will remain strong in the second quarter but, as predicted, the pace has slowed a bit.  Locally, persisting dry weather maintained access to many harvest sites and recent southern pine beetle outbreaks are adding yet more pulpwood to the already swelling piles.  We can probably expect pulpwood prices in north Florida to remain low for some time.

Ask Joe Steward 
Our Question and Answer column returns!  Write, call or email the editor of the Florida Forest Steward with your questions and we will print the answers in the next issue.  We welcome questions about articles in this or back issues of the Steward, specific management practices, economic or financial issues, forest policy issues, or anything else relating to resource management.  The contact information for the editor is in the box at the bottom of this page.

SFRC Workshops for Landowners and Professionals 
October 12: Forest Landowner Workshop, Volusia County Ag. Center, Deland. 
Contact: Sharon Gamble, 904-822-5778 

November 4: Project Learning Tree, Austin Cary Memorial Forest. 

December 5-7: Basic Prescribed Fire Course for Landowners with Burn Experience, Sebring. 
Contact: Hillsborough Community College, Fred Webb, 813-757-2104 or 757-2157, 

December 13-15: Global Positioning Systems, University of Florida, Gainesville. 
Contact: Dr. Alan Long, 352-846-0891

Forest Stewardship Program
February 6 - March 20, 2001: Master Tree Farmer 2001 - 3-hour satellite broadcasts of resource management workshops, 7 PM to 10 PM EST, every Tuesday for this 7-week period at locations throughout Florida.  Announcement with further details will be mailed to Stewardship Program participants.  For more information on-line, go to