Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 115 high-impact projects across all 50 states, including Florida, will receive more than $370 million as part of the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program, administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The program’s public-private partnership enables companies, communities and other non-government entities to further conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife on a regional scale. Partners provide matching funding, with the total budget to be spent in five years.
In Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will lead the Regional Partnership for Conservation of Gopher Tortoise and At-Risk Species Habitat, an endeavor to save and protect threatened and endangered species by restoring dwindling habitat within almost five million acres in Polk, Osceola, Okeechobee, Highlands, Hardee, Desoto and Glades counties. The $2 million project will provide support for conservation planning, outreach and technical assistance through NRCS programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. Multiple partners with forestry and wildlife expertise will apply conservation practices to improve forest stands, conduct prescribed burning, plant field borders, develop early successional habitat and restore rare or declining habitats. This effort will target the gopher tortoise, Florida panther, Florida grasshopper sparrow and other threatened and endangered species. In addition to this project, Florida will benefit from three national-level projects with one or more other states:
The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Rivers Conservation Partnership led by the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District in Georgia will improve water quality and quantity in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, with a proposed budget of $8 million.
The Coastal Headwaters Forest – Longleaf Conservation and Restoration Partnership led by The Conservation Fund will acquire conservation easements and restore native longleaf pine in Florida and Alabama with a proposed budget of $10 million. Water quality and quantity to the Gulf of Mexico will be protected.
Securing Private Working Forests to Benefit Longleaf Pine, Threatened and Endangered Species and Military Readiness is led by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities. The partners will target 20,000 acres of working longleaf in South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana with a proposed budget of $24 million.
“Projects are led locally, and demonstrate the value of strong public-private partnerships that deliver solutions to tough natural resource challenges,” said Russell Morgan, Florida state conservationist for NRCS.
This year’s projects will engage hundreds of partners nationwide with wide-ranging interests, including communities, conservation districts, agribusiness, non-government organizations, for- and non-profit organizations, state and federal agencies and Tribal governments. In addition to USDA funds, partners’ will contribute an estimated $400 million, more than doubling USDA’s investment. The next announcement of program funding for fiscal year 2016 will be made later in the year. To learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or visit a local USDA service center.
TAX TIPS FOR FOREST LANDOWNERS FOR THE 2014 TAX YEAR - UPDATED IN DECEMBER
Tax laws on timber transactions are very specialized but important to timber owners in terms of the ongoing cost of owning and managing timber, forest stewardship and compliance to the tax law. This bulletin reviews the major federal income tax laws to help forest owners in filing their 2014 income tax returns. The information presented here is current as of December 2014.
2014 TAX TIPS (pdf)
A NEW SIGN-UP FOR CONSERVATION INITIATIVES
Florida Ag Producers can apply for financial assistance until March 20, 2015
Agricultural producers can apply until March 20th for 2015 financial assistance to make natural resource improvements through several specific initiatives.
The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Florida has designated funding for longleaf pine forests, seasonal high tunnels, pollinators, water quality, organic farming, on-farm energy and gopher tortoise habitat. Farmers and ranchers can apply through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
Longleaf pine initiative--helps private landowners improve the sustainability and profitability of longleaf pine forest ecosystems.
Seasonal high tunnel initiative--helps producers install high tunnels designed to extend the growing season, increase productivity, keep plants at a steady temperature and conserve water and energy.
Pollinators-- helps producers develop habitat for pollinators.
National water quality initiative—helps producers in Deep Creek and Clarks Creek watersheds on the Lower St. Johns River and the Little Scurlock Creek on the Lower Choctawhatchee River to improve water quality.
Organic initiative--helps producers install conservation practices on USDA certified organic operations or those working toward organic certification.
On-farm energy initiative--helps producers conserve energy on their operations.
Working lands for wildlife initiative—helps producers create gopher tortoise habitat.
Do you want help conserving resources on your farm or ranch? The first step is to develop a conservation plan with a NRCS specialist. Contact your local field office in Florida. Learn more about participating in conservation programs at www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.
USDA SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENT ON NEW EQIP RULEThe U.S. Department of Agriculture is publishing a rule that outlines how it will improve the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), one of USDA’s largest conservation programs. The interim final rule includes program changes authorized by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill.
USDA has established a 60-day comment period for the rule. The rule available in regulations.gov – search EQIP on the main page. Public comments can be submitted through this site or by mailing them. Comments are due by Feb. 10, 2015. The changes are intended to simplify the EQIP regulation regarding conservation practice scheduling, payment limitations and other administrative actions.
For more information about interim final rules for USDA NRCS’s Farm Bill conservation programs, visit EQIP Rule Page.
FOREST STEWARDSHIP VIDEOS - VIEW AND SHARE!
All videos are on the Florida Forest Stewardship Program home page:
COGONGRASS TREATMENT COST-SHARE PROGRAM NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS
Applications accepted through Feb. 27, 2015 to remove invasive plant
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Florida Forest Service is now accepting applications for the Cogongrass Treatment Cost-Share Program. Cogongrass is an invasive, non-native grass, which occurs in Florida and several other southeastern states. Cogongrass infestations negatively affect tree regeneration, growth and survival, as well as wildlife habitat, native plant diversity, forage quality and property values. They also increase the risk of wildfires and alter fire behavior.
The Cogongrass Treatment Cost-Share Program is offered for non-industrial private lands in all Florida counties. It provides reimbursement of 50 percent of the cost to treat Cogongrass infestations for two consecutive years. Applicants who wish to conduct treatments in 2015 may apply through Feb. 27, 2015. To learn more about this program and obtain an application form, contact a local Florida Forest Service office or visit http://www.FloridaForestService.com. All qualifying applications will be evaluated and ranked for approval. This program is supported through a grant from the U.S. Forest Service.
For more information about cogongrass and management see http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wg202
For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit http://www.FreshFromFlorida.com.
TO CERTIFY OR NOT: FLORIDA TREE FARM PROGRAM NEEDS TO DECIDESomething that sets the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) apart from all other private land stewardship programs is forest certification. ATFS Tree Farms are currently third party certified as sustainable (or “green”) and products can be sold as such at market. Florida, along with the other states are now being presented with a choice to make: to either stay in or opt out of ATFS Certification status depending on the importance we see in it. The Florida Tree Farm Committee will be required to make a formal declaration by December 31, 2015 of whether or not we want to continue as a state program of “third party certified” Tree Farms. The alternative is to revert to a “recognition” program that no longer has a “certification” status. As Tree Farmers, The Florida Tree Farm Committee would like your opinion of whether Florida should remain in a “certified” Tree Farm program, or drop the requirement for third party certification. Please reply with any comments you may have on this to Phil Gornicki, State Tree Farm Coordinator at 850-222-5646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ONGOING SERVICES, INITIATIVES, PROGRAMS:
SOMETHING BUGGING YOUR TREES?
Do you have pests or a disease in your trees? Leaves or needles wilting, and you don’t know why? Sawdust falling out of your trees, and you don’t know how to save them? There is help: ask your question at the new Forest Health Diagnostic Forum: http://sfrc.ufl.edu/treehealth/forum/.
Run by forest health specialists at the UF School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Department of Entomology and the Florida Forest Service, this is the fastest and the most accurate forest pest and disease diagnostics available in the State of Florida. It’s free, logging in is easy, and replies are prompt. We are also happy to examine your samples, or visit your site for a minimal fee. We are here to help you protect your trees!
FWC REQUESTS REPORTS OF WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS:
- Report chipmunk sightings here: https://public.myfwc.com/hsc/chipmunk/getlatlong.aspx
- Report panther sightings here: https://public.myfwc.com/hsc/PantherSightings/getlatlong.aspx
- Report mink sightings here: https://public.myfwc.com/hsc/mink/getlatlong.aspx
- Report black bear sightings here: https://public.myfwc.com/fwri/blackbear/getlatlong.aspx
- Report southern hognose snake (Heterodon simus), short-tailed snake (Lampropeltis extenuata), and Florida pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus) here:
FWC WILDLIFE LEGACY INITIATIVE NEWSLETTER
See the latest news at: http://myfwc.com/conservation/special-initiatives/fwli/news/winter-2014/
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:
UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA CONTINUING FORESTRY EDUCATION CLASSES
See http://conted.warnell.uga.edu/ for the latest offerings.
ALABAMA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION FORESTRY WEBINARS