Friday, December 14, 2018

FLORIDA LAND STEWARD UPDATE 12/14/18


2019 FLORIDA LAND STEWARD WALL CALENDARS AVAILABLE
Get your 2019 Florida Land Steward wall calendars while supplies last. The annual Florida Land Steward calendar features beautiful photography, habitat management tips, landowner and management highlights, resource contacts and more. These make a great gift and have become a regular part of homes and offices across Florida. First come, first serve to Florida Forest Stewards, Tree Farmers, and other interested landowners. Request yours by sending an email to cdemers@ufl.edu with your mailing address.

You can  help us to continue this calendar project. If you have received and used the calendar in recent years, we would like to know how it has been helpful. This will also help us to justify this project in coming years. Please help us by filling out this quick 2-minute questionnaire: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6HKR82F



INCOME TAX DEDUCTION ON TIMBER AND LANDSCAPE TREE LOSS FROM CASUALTY AND TIMBER TAX TIPS FOR THE 2018 TAX YEAR
Timber or landscape trees destroyed by a hurricane, tornado, fire or other disaster are "casualty losses" that may allow the property owners to take a deduction on their federal income tax returns. See https://timbertax.org/ for guidance on this as well as the annual timber tax tips for 2018 filing from USDA Forest Service tax specialist Linda Wang.

      

POST-STORM RECOVERY ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE THROUGH USDA NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE FOR AG LAND DAMAGED BY HURRICANE MICHAEL
Florida farmers and ranchers who suffered damage to working lands and livestock mortality due to Hurricane Michael are encouraged to sign up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Agricultural producers in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Wakulla, and Washington Counties are eligible to apply for assistance. A second sign-up period will end Dec. 14, 2018. This assistance is available to individual farmers and ranchers to aid in recovery efforts on their properties and does not apply to local governments or other entities.

Conservation practices available through EQIP can protect your land from erosion, support disaster recovery and repair, and can help mitigate loss from exceptional storm events in the future. Farmers and ranchers seeking financial and technical assistance through EQIP should visit their local NRCS office to sign up. Bonifay, Marianna and Quincy field offices are open to serve producers in Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf and Liberty counties until Blountstown Field Office is repaired.

For more information on NRCS and the EQIP program, visit the Florida NRCS website. For more information on disaster assistance programs for farmers and ranchers, visit farmers.gov/recover


USDA FARM SERVICE AGENCY ACCEPTING EMERGENCY FOREST RESTORATION PROGRAM APPLICATIONS IN 17 FLORIDA COUNTIES IMPACTED BY HURRICANE MICHAEL
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting State Executive Director Justin Teuton has announced that 17 Florida counties are accepting applications for the Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) to address damages from Hurricane Michael. EFRP provides payments to eligible owners of nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) land to enable the owners to carry out emergency measures to restore land damaged by a natural disaster. EFRP sign-up ends on Dec. 21, 2018.

Impacted producers in Bay, Calhoun, Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton and Washington are eligible to apply for EFRP.

Forest landowners who suffered damage can apply for cost-share assistance at their local USDA Service Center. After applications are received, the Florida Forest Service will work with FSA to provide technical assistance by evaluating the damage and developing a plan to restore the NIPF land. The local FSA county committee will determine land eligibility and approve applications. 

In order to meet eligibility requirements, NIPF land must have existing tree cover or had tree cover immediately before the natural disaster occurred and be sustainable for growing trees. The land must also be owned by any nonindustrial private individual, group, association, corporation or other private legal entity that has definitive decision-making authority over the land. The natural disaster must have resulted in damage that if untreated would impair or endanger the natural resources on the land and/or materially affect future use of the land. In Florida, the requirement of an onsite inspection prior to beginning debris removal activities has been waived due to extensive hurricane damage.

For more information on EFRP, please contact your local FSA county office or visit https://www.farmers.gov/recover. To find your local office, visit farmers.gov.



FLORIDA FOREST SERVICE ANNOUNCES NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR OPEN BURNING IN HURRICANE MICHAEL IMPACTED AREAS
Due to the massive amounts of tree debris on the ground throughout the area affected by Hurricane Michael, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam and the Florida Forest Service released new requirements for open burning, effective November 2, 2018, in the following counties impacted by Hurricane Michael: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty and Washington.

The Florida Forest Service created two geographical zones, primary and secondary, to identify hurricane-impacted areas with specific open burning requirements. Burning within the heavy impact primary zone will require pile burner certification. Details on the zones and requirements here.



January 26, 2019, 10 am to 3 pm, Austin Cary Forest near Gainesville, FL
Join us for a celebration of Florida's forests and the role of fire in maintaining and enhancing their beauty, diversity, and habitat value. Fun for the whole family. Activities include educational exhibits and activities, live animals, prescribed burn  demonstrations, a visit from Burner Bob the bobwhite quail, food vendors, live music, and more! 

See the event Facebook page at
https://www.facebook.com/events/246640302864953/ for information, sharing, and indicating interest.



FLORIDA TREE FARM PROGRAM PREPARING FOR 2019 AUDIT
The Florida Tree Farm Program is preparing for a 2019 audit. The purpose of the audit is to verify that certified Tree Farms are compliant with the 2015-2020 Standards of Sustainability. The Program has been audited twice since 2010 without any issues. A relatively small sample of Tree Farms will be selected for the audit. The audit team will visit selected Tree Farms to review the landowners' management plans and conduct a brief interview. The inspector of the property and a Florida Tree Farm representative will accompany the auditor. We will begin the audit process in January 2019. Selected sample Tree Farm landowners will receive a phone call in early January 2019.

The Florida Tree Farm Program wants to make sure this audit goes well so it is extremely important for ALL certified Tree Farms in the state to have a current written management plan. Current means updated in the last 5 years. Contact your Florida Forest Service County Forester, consultant, or your Tree Farm District Representative if you need an update to your management plan, or if you have not been inspected since 2014





NEW FAMILY FORESTS BOOK NOW AVAILABLE AT THE UF/IFAS BOOKSTORE
Family Forests – Portraits of Private Land Stewardship in Florida by Chris Demers, UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation. This full-color publication puts a face on private forest stewardship in our great state, and provides ample references and resources that can assist with land management efforts. $12.95, available at the UF/IFAS Extension Bookstore online at: http://ifasbooks.ifas.ufl.edu/p-1433-family-forests.aspx



PRESCRIBED BURN ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE FROM WILDLAND RESTORATION INTERNATIONAL
Assistance available to landowners in the counties of Levy, Alachua, Putnam, Marion, Flagler, Volusia, Lake, Sumter, Hernando, Polk, Osceola, Manatee, Hardee, and Highlands. 

Wildland Restoration International (WRI) is excited to announce prescribed burn assistance to landowners participating in USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) cost share programs. The organization has been awarded funding from the Endowment for Forestry and Communities to help landowners implement prescribed burning practices funded by the NRCS. WRI representatives are available to meet onsite with landowners to discuss their goals and assist with prescribed burn prescription and implementation.

WRI is also interested in providing educational workshops for landowners interested in learning more about prescribed burning topics. They also want to encourage the formation of landowner associations or cooperatives to help landowners work together to facilitate the safe and effective use of prescribed fire on their lands.

WRI is funded to assist landowners in the counties of Levy, Alachua, Putnam, Marion, Flagler, Volusia, Lake, Sumter, Hernando, Polk, Osceola, Manatee, Hardee, and Highlands. Landowners in these counties, with a NRCS contract that includes prescribed burning, are encouraged to contact WRI to learn more about these services:

Ryan Kennelly, Fire Program Coordinator
Phone: (352) 373-0550
       


FLORIDA LAND STEWARD PARTNERS WEB MAP TOOL
Use this web tool to identify resources at a local watershed scale: 




ONGOING INITIATIVES / SERVICES / OPPORTUNTIES
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To help restore the state’s northern bobwhite quail populations, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is asking private landowners to report sightings of bobwhite quail on their land. Report northern bobwhite quail sightings at MyFWC.com/QuailSighting
The FWC also seeks reports of these species:

SOMETHING BUGGING YOUR TREES? - CHECK OUT THE NEW DIAGNOSTICS FORUM
Hosted by a group of forest and tree health specialists with Southeastern universities and agencies, we are here to help identify pests and diseases in your forest or your backyard, and to recommend a solution, if appropriate. Join the group and report your tree health issue!
Visit the new Forest Health Diagnostic forum on Facebook:

FOREST STEWARDSHIP VIDEOS - VIEW AND SHARE!
All the latest videos are on the Florida Forest Stewardship Program home page:

GOT AN INVASIVE SPECIES PROBLEM?
Go to floridainvasives.org for information, assistance and partnership opportunities.

LOOKING FOR INFORMATION ON A PARTICULAR TOPIC?
Check the vast array of extension publications available through UF/IFAS on the EDIS publication site:  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/  Wow, there’s a publication about that?

UF/IFAS SCHOOL OF FOREST RESOURCES AND CONSERVATION EXTENSION PROGRAMS
FORESTRY AND NATURAL RESOURCES WEBINARS
For a calendar of upcoming webinars in a variety of land management topics see:
SOUTHERN REGION EXTENSION FORESTRY
See http://sref.info/ for the latest news, tools and offerings.


NEED A LOAN TO FUND CONSERVATION PROJECTS? CHECK OUT THE USDA FARM SERVICE AGENCY'S GUARANTEED CONSERVATION LOAN PROGRAM
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) guarantees loans to promote conservation practices on farms and ranches that help protect natural resources. The goal of FSA’s Conservation Loan (CL) program is to provide access to credit for farmers who need and want to implement conservation measures on their land, but do not have the “up front” funds available to implement these practices. For more information see this Conservation Loan Program Fact Sheet. Also see this table summarizing FSA farm loan opportunities.

The Conservation Contract Program is a program for eligible landowners that protects important natural resources and other sensitive areas while providing a debt management tool. A conservation contract is available to people with Farm Service Agency (FSA) direct loans secured by real estate. These individuals may qualify for a reduction of their FSA indebtedness in exchange for a conservation contract with a term of 50, 30 or 10 years. The conservation contract is a voluntary legal agreement that restricts the type and amount of development that may take place on portions of the landowner’s property. Contracts may be established on marginal cropland and other environmentally sensitive lands for conservation, recreation and wildlife purposes. For more information see this Conservation Contract Program Fact Sheet.

The FSA provides several types of farm loans. For more information on these opportunities, see the Florida FSA Website or contact your local FSA office to speak with a local representative