Today, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Forest Service announced applications are now being accepted for the 2022 Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program for non-industrial, private forest landowners through July 1, 2022. The program is limited to 44 northern Florida counties, the known range of the southern pine beetle.
The southern pine beetle (SPB) is one of the most economically devastating forest pests in the Southeastern United States, with periodic outbreaks destroying thousands of acres of pine timber. The last major SPB outbreak in Florida, between 1999 and 2002, caused an estimated $59 million in timber losses on over 24,000 acres.
“Pine forests are one of the most vital natural resources for Florida’s ecosystem – from clean air and water to sequestering carbon and providing home goods and other wood products,” said Commissioner Nikki Fried. “Sixty-five percent of Florida forests are privately owned, so supporting our landowners is critical to not only reducing the risk of forest pest outbreaks but protecting livelihoods and protecting a natural resource that protects and provides for us every day.”
“Southern pine beetles are one of the most destructive insects in southern pine forests,” said Erin Albury, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service. “Southern pine beetle activity is currently relatively low in Florida. We can keep it that way by taking preventative measures now.”
The Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program, supported through a grant by the U.S. Forest Service, provides incentive payments for landowners who have overstocked pine stands and need to conduct a first thinning. In addition, it offers partial cost reimbursement for activities that can mitigate SPB activity, such as prescribed burning, mechanical underbrush treatments, and the planting of longleaf or slash pine rather than loblolly pine, the beetle’s preferred species. All qualifying applications received during the submission period will be evaluated and ranked for approval.
The Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program promotes forest management practices that reduce the risk and impacts of SPB infestations. Since it was first offered in 2005, the program has been implemented on more than 205,000 acres and helped thousands of landowners.
To obtain an application or to learn more about the Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program, visit FDACS.gov/SPBPrevention.
About Florida Forest Service
The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres.