|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 firstname.lastname@example.org
|Estate Tax Update|
|Our Estate Planning for Forest Landowners workshop last June offered
some very important information for participants. Lyle Wolding, of Grower
and Rancher Estate Tax Advisors, presented helpful planning strategies
for conserving the estate, prefaced by the latest news on the estate tax.
President Bush's Relief Act of 2001, or H.R. 1836, now signed into law,
yielded limited results with respect to the estate tax. H.R. 1836 gradually
increases the unified credit exemption, while reducing the top estate tax
rate between 2002 and 2009, with a 12-month repeal of the estate tax in
2010. That 12-month detail is important because this repeal "sunsets" on
January 1, 2011, at which time the top estate tax rate and unified credit
revert back to today's tax law*, unless congress re-repeals the tax by
December 31, 2010.
Clearly, this temporary estate tax repeal could be costly for families that assume the repeal is permanent. Unless you are certain that you will die in 2010, it is best to plan the transfer of your estate according to current tax law. Provisions under the federal tax law allow landowners to protect or "shelter" their assets from estate taxes by creating trusts and/or making tax-free gifts. Talk to a financial advisor, tax law attorney or certified public accountant to explore your options. This is perhaps the most important step you can take to secure the future of your property for your children and grandchildren.
*On January 1, 2011, the top estate tax rate will revert back to 55%
and the unified credit will drop back to $675,000 or $1 million, a matter
of law interpretation.
|Minimizing Losses from Fusiform Rust|
|Fusiform rust, a disease caused by a fungus (Cronartium quercuum f.
sp. Fusiforme), has become an epidemic in slash and loblolly pine plantations
across the south since the early 1960s. Unlike most pathogens, fusiform
rust attacks healthy, rapidly growing trees instead of weakened trees,
creating a dilemma for managers seeking to boost the productivity of their
plantations. The increase in intensively managed plantations of loblolly
and slash pines, the fungus' preferred pine hosts, has created favorable
conditions for extensive spread of the disease. However, knowledge gained
about the fungus and its life cycle has been used to develop strategies
to minimize losses from infection.
Biology and Ecology
Site characteristics that favor high fusiform rust incidence are those
that are associated with abundant oaks - well-drained soils with a sandy
surface and organic horizon. Conversely, poorly drained soils that do not
support abundant oaks are less likely favorable for rust development.
-the level of rust incidence in nearby young, planted stands;
-the abundance of susceptible oaks in and around the site to be planted;
-the soil type; and
-the growth potential of the site.
If these cannot be estimated from field observation try looking at a soil map. The drainage category of the soil will give you some idea of its productivity and its capacity to support oaks. Your county forester can help you interpret a soil map to determine your fusiform risk level and he or she may know about the level of disease incidence within the county.
The most effective way to prevent rust in high and moderately high-risk areas is to plant rust-resistant seedlings, which will reduce rust incidence by two-thirds. Note that not all genetically improved seedlings are rust-resistant. Some seedlings are improved only for growth, which, if planted on a high-risk site, will compound the rust problem. Rust-resistant seedlings cost more than regular seedlings but will more than pay for themselves in the long run. It has been estimated that $20 is returned to the landowner for every dollar invested in research on disease resistance2.
In addition to planting rust-resistant seedlings, these vegetation management techniques can reduce oak growth as well as provide early competition control:
-summer controlled burns discourage oak competition;
-KG blading, followed by disking, to reduce oak regrowth
For more information about fusiform rust and other insect and disease problems, see the Florida Forestry Information Web site linked at the top of this newsletter, or the Division of Forestry's Insect and Diseases page at:
1Schmidt, R.A. 1998. Fusiform rust disease of southern pines: biology, ecology and management. Tech. Bull. 903. FL Coop. Ext. Serv., IFAS, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.
2 Schmidt, R.A. 2001. Fusiform rust of southern pines: preventing and minimizing financial loss. Forest Landowner 60(3):18-21.
|Farm Bill Conservation Programs on the Line|
||The 1996 Farm Bill will expire next year and legislators are in the
midst of hearings and debates to determine how to rewrite the next version
in the context of a significant tax cut. Among the many subjects of debate,
and of special concern to landowners in need of financial and technical
natural resource management assistance, is if and how to reformulate existing
USDA cost-share programs like the Conservation Reserve Program, Farmland
Protection Program, Wetland Reserve Program, Forestry Incentives Program,
Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, and Environmental Quality Incentives
Also on the table are some new conservation programs. The Sustainable Forestry Incentive Program, a combined and enhanced version of the Forestry Incentives and Stewardship Incentives Programs, would provide financial and technical assistance to landowners providing public benefits such as recreation or wildlife habitat. In addition, the Program would increase federal aid for tree planing, thinning, site preparation, and management plans. Another new program, the Sustainable Forestry Outreach Initiative, would reauthorize and expand the Renewable Resources Extension Act, designed to educate forest landowners about sustainable forestry practices and the availability of professional natural resource management assistance.
The interests of private forest landowners are being represented in this process by the National Council on Private Forests, a Washington DC-based group of representatives from several natural resource management organizations including: the American Tree Farm System, National Association of Professional Forestry Schools, Forest Landowners Association, Westvaco Corporation, and the Society of American Foresters. Make your voice heard by contacting your legislators. You can find the contact information for your legislators on-line at www.vote-smart.org/index.phtml.
|Timber Tax Simplification Bill|
|Private landowners who regularly sell timber are currently required
to "retain an economic interest" in their timber until it is sold in order
to receive capital gains treatment on their income. This means the seller
must sell timber under contract terms that ensure that the seller bears
all the risk, and is only paid for timber as it is harvested. This method
of payment, referred to as pay-as-cut, can place a disproportionate burden
on the seller because it may encourage fraud in the scaling process and
waste of timber resources by the buyer.
The Timber Simplification Act, proposed by both the U.S. Senate and House, may eliminate this exclusive "retained economic interest" clause which would allow lump sum sales to also qualify for capital gains treatment. The Joint Committee on Taxation has determined that this correction would have negligible effect on federal revenue and the bills have the support of many groups, including the Internal Revenue Service. The Forest Landowners Tax Council strongly favors the Tax Simplification Bill because it will improve the economic viability of forest investments, which will benefit the entire forest products industry and private landowners. Overall it will allow harvest contracts to be based on sound forest management practices instead of the tax law.
For more information about this bill and its status, see the Forest Landowners Tax Council Web site at www.fltc.org.
|Wildlife Plant Feature: Beautyberry|
|This regular column will feature descriptions of plants that are important
sources of wildlife food. This issue's wildlife plant is beautyberry. Also
known as French mulberry and beautybush, beautyberry grows in a variety
of environmental conditions across its range, from Texas to Florida, north
to Maryland and west to Oklahoma. It is an early successional plant, common
under open pine and oak canopies and along forest edges. Beautyberry persists,
sometimes increasing in abundance, after mechanical site preparation and
burning, and it is spread by bird-dispersed seeds.
Form: bushy, deciduous shrub, 4-6 feet tall with spreading branches, and grows in sparse colonies.
Leaves: deciduous, oval to lance-like, 3-7 inches long, 1-4 inches wide, with coarsely serrate margins and tapered base and tip; when crushed, leaves have a very distinct unpleasant odor.
Flowers: June-July, dense clusters of 5-lobed, pinkish-white flowers on short stalks.
Fruit: August-January, round purple berry containing 4 seeds. Fruits are in characteristic, regularly spaced clusters encircling the stem.
Wildlife value: fruit are consumed by over 40 species of birds, deer, raccoons, opossums, and several small rodents. Leaves are eaten by white-tailed deer when their preferred food is not abundant.
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
|Ask Joe Steward|
|Pines and Wildlife
An increasing number of landowners are interested in providing habitat for wildlife and Stewardship biologists Leslie Hawkins and Wayne Harris work hard to help landowners manage for game and nongame animals. This question is one that Leslie gets quite a bit.
Q: Which southern pine species is best for wildlife?
A: As you might have guessed, longleaf pine is superior to its relatives,
slash and loblolly pines, in terms of wildlife value and benefits. Longleaf
pine produces larger, more nutritious seeds, preferred by many birds and
small mammals. In addition, its relatively open crown during development
and at maturity allows a variety of herbaceous browse to grow in the understory,
benefiting many wildlife species. Longleaf pine also has several adaptations
that allow it to tolerate and survive low intensity surface fires. These
adaptations include: an interim stage of development between the seedling
and sapling stages known as the grass stage, which gives the tree additional
protection from fire; a terminal bud that remains near ground level for
several years; and long, dense, moisture-laden needles. Longleaf's adaptation
to fire gives landowners a unique opportunity to burn early in the rotation,
which promotes an understory of succulent grasses and forbs that are eaten
by many animals.
Regardless of your preferrence, matching the correct species to the site is an essential first step with any reforestation effort.
To Cut or Not to Cut
Q: Should I cut my trees that have been attacked by southern pine beetle?
A: Dr. John Foltz of the University of Florida Department of Entomology suggests that anyone suspecting southern pine beetle immediately contact their county forester for an inspection and recommendations. During outbreaks, beetles emerging from one infested tree have the potential to attack and kill ten additional nearby trees. Like fire suppression during dry periods, quick detection and quick action by all landowners is necessary to minimize tree mortality and the economic losses. For additional information, see the Department of Entomology's Web site at eny3541.ifas.ufl.edu.
|Timber Price Update|
ranges reported across Florida in the 2nd quarter 2001 Timber Mart-South
(TMS) report were: $17-$28/cord for pine pulpwood, $58-$84/cord for pine
C-N-S, $79-$102/cord for pine sawtimber, and $94-$119/cord for pine plylogs.
On average, prices were down, up, down, and the same for the four products,
respectively, compared to 1st quarter 2000 prices. Hardwood pulpwood prices
ranged from $9-$15/cord, which was up significantly from the previous quarter.
A more complete summary of 2nd quarter 2001 stumpage prices is available
at your County Extension or County Forester's office.
Overall, not much has changed since the last quarter except for a fairly dramatic increase in hardwood pulpwood stumpage prices. As was the case last year at this time, wildfire and southern pine beetle salvage cuts are keeping the mills full of pine, but there is some apparent demand for hardwood. Where the prices go next will depend on several factors: the weather, bugs, economy and Canadian lumber imports.
Canadian Lumber Trade Update