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2020 Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program available to Northwest Florida

Landowners in Northwest Florida are able to apply for the 2020 Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program from the Florida Forest Service.
Landowners in Northwest Florida are able to apply for the 2020 Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program from the Florida Forest Service.(Florida Forest Service)
Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 5:25 PM CDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WJHG) - Landowners in Northwest Florida are able to apply for the 2020 Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program from the Florida Forest Service.

This program is open to non-industrial, private forest landowners in Florida’s 44 northern counties, the known range of the southern pine beetle. Landowners can apply through August 6, 2020.

“Pine forests are an essential part of Florida’s ecosystem,” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said. “Helping landowners take preventative action significantly reduces the risk and impacts associated with the southern pine beetle and is critical to preserving the benefits that forests provide Floridians and visitors alike.”

Florida Forest Service officials say the southern pine beetle is one of the most economically devastating forest pests of the Southeast. They say since 2015, more than 460 southern pine beetle infestations have killed 2,200 acres of trees.

“Southern pine beetle activity is relatively low in Florida right now, but it can increase rapidly,” State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service Erin Albury said. “Awareness is key, and we want to help landowners improve the health and productivity of their pine forests.”

The program is supported through a grant by the United States Forest Service. It provides incentive payments for landowners who conduct a first pulpwood thinning and offers partial cost reimbursement for activities such as prescribed burning, mechanical underbrush treatments, and the planting of longleaf or slash pine instead of the loblolly pine, the beetle’s preferred species.

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