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THE FLORIDA FOREST STEWARD  A Quarterly Newsletter for Florida Landowners and Resource Professionals
Volume 8, No. 2                                                             Summer 2001
 
Thoughts on Science and Policy
 Annosum Root Rot 
 Students Write Stewardship Plans
 UF Agroforestry Center
 Wildlife Extension Programs On-line
 Thanks to Tour Hosts
Timber Price Update
 

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@gnv.ifas.ufl.edu 
Alan Long (co-editor), School of Forest Resources & Conservation, UF, (352) 846-0891 or AJL@gnv.ifas.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

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

Thoughts on Science and Policy

 
This year's Society of American Foresters (SAF)/School of Forest Resources and Conservation (SFRC) Spring Symposium offered some thought provoking perspectives on the role of science in natural resource policy. John Gray Distinguished Lecturers, Drs. Christine Dean and Peter Farnum, Research Director and Vice President, respectively with Weyerhaeuser Company, kicked things off with a unique give-and-take presentation of some important issues in a science-policy interaction context. Dr. Farnum presented general concepts and principles of the role of scientific research in policy, followed by real-world examples provided by Dr. Dean. 

Their presentation provided a useful tool - a framework with which to think about the rest of the topics and issues discussed during the Symposium, and how science and policy interact, or do not, in the real world. Dr. Farnum proposed two important questions for scientists: 1) what is the scientist's social responsibility, and 2) how do scientists remain true to the scientific method? 

The answer given to the first question is: to help society get more from less. This is illustrated well by the forestry community's task of meeting the world's wood demand. We can try to extract fiber from natural forests, 40% of the world's forests; or we can meet the demand by practicing intensive management on a smaller portion of the forest land base, 4% of the world's forests, leaving the remaining forest for other uses like recreation and wildlife habitat. This more-from-less forest management strategy seems to hold for commercial forest products, but may not be applicable in the growing fuelwood shortage faced by many in the arid tropics, as pointed out by Dr. P.K. Nair, professor of agroforestry at UF. 

The second question has more than one answer. Dr Farnum explained that to remain true to the scientific method, scientists must avoid extremes, maintain scientific rigor in their research, emphasize the real world implications of their research, and strive for transparency in their findings while being cognizant of the issues. Transparency implies full disclosure of all trade-offs. There is little doubt that most scientists adhere to these rules of scientific rigor. There is a lot of doubt, however, about how much science is considered in decisions at the policy level. 

A major policy goal of SAF, and other forestry organizations like the Florida Forestry Association, is to advance the role of science in forest policy decisions. From the policymaker's perspective, the role of science in policy is to provide a range of options from which society, through political means, must choose. The million dollar question is, how much of our scientific knowledge is accounted for at the end of the political process? According to Michael Goergen, Director of Forest Policy for SAF, very little science is used in many policy decisions. More often, policy is driven by political "horse-trading" and compromises. Examples of issues in which scientific findings were largely ignored were the proposed designation of silviculture activities as point sources of pollution and the new roadless rule for the national forests. These issues were dominated by interests outside of the natural resource profession. Thanks to recent action by SAF and other professional groups, the first of these rules has been suspended. 

This all boils down to an important question: Should forest policy reflect what natural resource professionals know, or should policy reflect what those outside of the profession do not know? This is where values, practically unmeasurable by the scientific method, come into play. The word ‘environmentalist' is often met with unwelcome arms in some circles of our profession, but the majority of foresters I've met consider themselves ‘environmentalists' of a sort. They want clean water, clean air, abundant wildlife habitat, wild places to visit, etc. The difference between environmentalists in the natural resource profession and those outside the profession seems to be how to best balance these values with economic benefits. There is a division in SAF between foresters that believe we should work with the ‘environmental community' to reach our goals and those that believe we should fight them to the end. The reality is that most natural resource issues are not black and white. There will be environmental/social costs associated with economic benefits and economic costs associated with environmental/social benefits. Science can provide the range of these costs. The challenge is making sure the science is reflected in the final balance at the policy level. 
 

 
 
Annosum Root Rot 
 
Last March several county foresters, landowners, and others gathered in the field with Dr. Ed Barnard, DOF Forest Pathologist; Dr. Jim Meeker, DOF Forest Entomologist; and Dave Lewis of Southern Forestry Consultants to learn about one of the most destructive diseases affecting conifers in the north temperate regions of the world - annosum root rot. This disease is caused by the fungus Heterobasidion annosum and affects both natural and planted forest stands. The hard reality of annosum root rot is its "attraction" to recently thinned or harvested stands, and trees weakened by the fungus are susceptible to southern pine beetle. Information in this article is from this field day and a couple of Dr. Barnard's publications, cited at the end. 

Biology and Identification 
Heterobasidion annosum is dispersed by airborne spores that are produced in the fruiting bodies of the fungus, which develop on the roots and stumps of infected trees beneath the duff or needle layer. The fruiting bodies are grayish-brown to dark brown on the upper surface and creamy white with tiny pores underneath. They vary in size from a couple centimeters in width to large brackets several inches wide and long. The largest one found by one of the county foresters on the field day was almost a foot in length and about 3 or 4 inches wide. 

The spores germinate on the surfaces of freshly cut stumps of susceptible hosts, including all of the major pine species in the south. Extended periods of warm temperatures are lethal to the young fungus so this process occurs during the cooler months in Florida. If germination is successful, the fungus colonizes the stump, moves into the roots and eventually may spread into the roots of adjacent trees at an approximate rate of 3 to 6 feet per year. The fungus crosses over to living trees through contacts between the infected stump roots and the living tree roots. 

The most prolific development of this fungus has been found on sites with deep, well-drained, sandy or sandy-loam soils with low organic matter and relatively high pH. Unfortunately, these soil characteristics are predominant in north Florida. Sites with heavier soils, low pH, and more organic matter tend to inhibit, but not exclude, development of the fungus. 

Symptoms and Regional Extent of Infections 
Pine stands infected with annosum root rot are characterized by dead and/or dying trees; discolored or thinned crowns; and/or leaning, uprooted or windthrown trees. Positive diagnoses requires a bit of digging to examine the lower stem and roots. If you find the fruiting bodies described above on the stem just below the duff layer, you probably don't have to dig any further to reveal the problem. To see how the tree is being killed check out the roots. Infected roots have white pockets that eventually merge and produce a white, stringy rot that resembles "shredded wheat" in appearance and texture. Another diagnostic aide is the presence of dead or dying redcedars (Juniperus spp.). Redcedars are highly susceptible to infection by H. annosum. 

Unfortunately we don't know the full extent of annosum root rot infections in Florida. A 1978 survey by Dr. Barnard revealed the fungus in 8 of 64 observed slash pine plantations that were thinned over the previous 10 years, and 23 additional plantations had symptoms of infection. A  survey conducted in the early 1990s detected the fungus in 17 of 30 plantations across northern Florida, but in only one of these was the infection serious. Severe infections have been observed in stands in Walton, Jackson, Leon and Columbia Counties. 

Interaction with Southern Pine Beetle 
Peak levels of infection seem to occur 3 to 6 years after thinning if H. annosum successfully germinates on cut stumps and spreads to the roots of residual trees. As trees are weakened by the fungus, southern pine beetle activity is likely to increase as well. If southern pine beetle activity does increase, the level of tree damage and mortality will increase at a very high rate, warranting salvage harvests or stand regeneration if mortality is excessive. 

Control 
Preventive measures are generally unnecessary on low-hazard sites (wet, organic, low pH soils). There are several measures you can take to minimize losses to annosum root rot on susceptible sites (dry, sandy, high pH soils). The most effective, and costly, method is to apply an appropriately registered, granular or soluble borax to fresh-cut stump surfaces during thinning. The stump should be treated within 24 hours of the time of harvest for best results. The cost-effectiveness of this treatment has not been established, but its efficacy in preventing infection by annosum warrants consideration on high risk sites. 

Since H. annosum will not germinate in the warm season, you can minimize the chances of infection by thinning during these months. Thinning in summer would be effective in reducing risk of annosum root rot infection, but it is not recommended because of high bark beetle activity at this time. Thinning in mid to late fall is therefore recommended, before the onset of frontal rains in the winter. 

You can also take advantage of the fungus' reliance on the duff layer for development by burning before thinning, but this measure is contingent on the duff layer being sufficiently eliminated around the trees to be removed. Of the 3 pines commonly regenerated in Florida, longleaf pine is most resistant to infection by H. annosum and is a good choice for high, dry sites to begin with. 

It has also been suggested that the need for thinning can be eliminated by planting trees at wider spacings if larger products are the goal, but this fails to account for mortality and the early competition required for straight, branchless stems. Unfortunately, no method is 100% effective. There is always a chance of infection by H. annosum on high-hazard sites. The best you can do is minimize the chances of infection. This fungus will likely become more of a problem in the State as more CRP plantations reach thinning ages. 

References 
Barnard, E.L. 1999. Annosum Root Rot of Pines in Florida. Plant Pathology Circular 398 (No. 2 Rev), FDACS, Division of Plant Industry. 

Barnard, E.L, S.P. Gilly, and W.N. Dixon. 1991. Incidence of Heterobadium annosum and Other Root-Infecting Fungi in Residual Stumps and Roots in Thinned Slash Pine Plantations in Florida. Plant Dis. 75:823-828. 

For more information about these pathogens contact Drs. Ed Barnard or Jim Meeker at 352-372-3505, or barnare@doacs.state.fl.us or meekerj@doacs.state.fl.us
 


Students Write Stewardship Plans
  
 
Many forestry and wildlife seniors at the University of Florida take Dr. Doug Carter's Integrated Forest Management class, a capstone course that provides a hands-on opportunity to write multiple use forest management plans. Past years' assignments in the class included preparing management plans for Camp Blanding and the Austin Cary Memorial Forest, but this year, Dr. Carter decided to give his students an assignment whose final product would be put to use on private lands. Students were assigned the task of writing Stewardship Management Plans. Helping Dr. Carter teach the course was John Wooding, a private wildlife consultant with Coastal Plain Wildlife. John's part of the course focused on "practical applications of wildlife management and how to integrate these practices with forestry." 

In groups of 3 or 4, and with the guidance of Stewardship Biologist Leslie Hawkins and county foresters, the students met with landowners on their properties to discuss their management objectives. They returned to the properties several times to take inventories of timber and wildlife resources, and drafted maps and prescriptions for each stand. The final plan will be reviewed by the landowner, Stewardship Biologist, and county foresters. Once approved, the plans will be given to the landowner for implementation on the ground. Jennifer Engle, a student in the class, said that the experience was beneficial because she was exposed to "a real world experience and got to work with people (students) in other disciplines." When asked what she took away from the experience, Jennifer explained that she gathered "a greater understanding of how private landowners can be a part of impacting sustainability of Florida's land." The benefit to the landowners of course was a management plan. 

 
Many thanks to the landowners that participated in this valuable project:
 
Marilyn Jeter, Levy Co.
Lynn Gill, Gilchrist Co.
Mary Agnes Goldwire, Bradford Co.
Dan Smith and Mabel Robertson, Alachua Co.
Claudia and Wayne Schumacher, Marion Co.
 

 
UF Agroforestry Center 
by Matthew Langholtz and Michael Bannister
  
Agroforestry offers new techniques that enable landowners to diversify their land use by raising crops and/or animals along with trees. This intentional association of multiple elements occurs on the same land, and crops, trees and animals are managed to enhance each other. Some examples of agroforestry practices include grazing cattle between rows of pine trees, growing blueberries between trees, and keeping oaks in pastures for shade and acorns. 

A new program, the Center for Subtropical Agroforestry (CSTAF), has been initiated at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS). This new effort is funded by the USDA/Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS). CSTAF, housed at the School of Forest Resources and Conservation (SFRC), is dedicated to agroforestry research, education, and extension in the southeastern U.S. and will build on temperate agroforestry programs in Missouri, Nebraska, and Minnesota. It includes major UF research and extension components at Gainesville, Ona, Milton, and Quincy; as well as those of collaborating institutions Florida A&M University (FAMU), the University of Georgia, Auburn University, and the University of the Virgin Islands. 

The CSTAF Extension Program will be conducting a survey of landowners to assess current agroforestry practices and perceptions, as well as the potential future implementation of agroforestry systems. This survey will be used to improve training and provide technical information for agroforestry extension, as well as establish a network of agroforestry demonstration sites. 

Select extension agents and landowners will be receiving the survey either by e-mail or regular mail; participation will be greatly appreciated. If you would like to participate in our survey, are interested in being included in the agroforestry demonstration site network, currently use agroforestry, or would like more information, please contact us at sworkman@ufl.edu
 


Wildlife Extension Programs On-line
 
Two wildlife extension programs are now available through the University of Florida's Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation's extension Web site (www.wec.ufl.edu/extension). These are summarized below: 

Florida Bird Monitoring Program  
(it.ifas.ufl.edu:8100/WildLife/index.html
The idea behind this program is to create a Web site for participants to share, view, and display bird data. This will allow people to interact, pose questions, compare results, discuss, and develop suggestions of how to improve their local environmental conditions. People that have landscaped their yards for wildlife can monitor how their landscape changes have affected birds that visit their yards. 

The above Web site is now available for viewing and entering bird survey data. Homeowners and participants from various natural resource, extension, and state education programs are encouraged to participate. Extension faculty are encouraged to hand out the point count extension document to participants in their programs. 

Florida Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program (www.wec.ufl.edu/extension/fl_habitat_program.htm
This is essentially a certification program where homeowners describe their property, the wildlife seen on it, and future landscaping plans. Using the property descriptions, wildlife extension faculty will provide tips on how to better attract and benefit desired wildlife species. Upon completion, participants receive a personalized certificate and yard sign in recognition of their efforts to provide food and cover for wildlife. The above link will take you to a downloadable application form to fill out and send to wildlife extension faculty for evaluation. This program would fit quite well with Florida Yards and Neighborhoods and Master Gardener programs. 

If you have any questions, contact Mark Hostetler, Asst. Professor, Extension Wildlife Specialist, Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation, IFAS, University of Florida, 215 Newins-Ziegler Hall, PO Box 110430, Gainesville, FL 32611-0430, ph: 352-846-0568, fax: 352-392-6984, email: hostetlerm@wec.ufl.edu 
.


Thanks to Tour Hosts
 
Another great tour season has come and gone. Many thanks to all the landowners that hosted tours this year, all of you who helped organize the tours, and to all who attended one or more tours. This was a fantastic opportunity for fellowship with landowners and natural resource professionals and to share experiences. Our gracious hosts were: 
 
Bob Carnes, Gadsden Co.
Cliff Godwin and
 Pace Water Systems, Santa Rosa Co.
Paul and Jeff Bielling, Marion Co.
 
During the two years in this position I've come to realize that the real experts in the land management field are the folks that have successfully managed their properties for multiple resources. We also learned that Friday afternoon seems to be the best time for most people to attend the tours. We met or exceeded our limit on all the tours this year. If you were unable to attend any, don't worry. We will have another round starting in the fall and will try to cover different areas. 

If you are a certified Forest Steward, or have managed your land according to the stewardship ethic and would like to host a tour, contact Chris Demers at 352-846-2375 or cdemers@gnv.ifas.ufl.edu 
 


Timber Price Update
 
Stumpage price ranges reported across Florida in the 1st quarter 2001 Timber Mart-South (TMS) report were: $16-$34/cord for pine pulpwood, $42-$84/cord for pine C-N-S, $83-$102/cord for pine sawtimber, and $96-$117/cord for pine plylogs. On average, prices were up slightly, down, up slightly, and down for the four products, respectively, compared to 4th quarter 2000 prices. Hardwood pulpwood prices ranged from $7-$16/cord, which was down from the previous quarter. A more complete summary of 1st quarter 2001 stumpage prices is available at your County Extension or County Forester's office. 

Long-term Trends 
The graph linked below charts quarterly Timber Mart-South stumpage prices for three major pine log classes in northeast Florida since the beginning of 1993. Numbers on the horizontal axis indicate the year (first digit) and quarter (second digit), so 31 would indicate the first quarter of 1993. Again, pine pulpwood, chip-n-saw, and sawtimber prices remain low. Many timber buyers, worried about market changes that may follow the expiration of the U.S.-Canadian Softwood Lumber Agreement, are losing interest in pine sawtimber. The trend is likely to remain the same for pulpwood as well. The pine beetle outbreaks projected for north-central Florida will most likely mean continued depressed pulpwood prices into the summer for that region. 

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