CONGRATULATIONS GEORGE AND PAT OWENS, 2017 FLORIDA LAND STEWARDS OF THE YEAR
George Owens is a fourth-generation farmer in Washington County, Florida. Growing up in the farming business and involved in the 4-H Program and Future Farmers of America, he carries on the agricultural legacy of his family and land. George C. Owens Farm is recognized by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as a Century Pioneer Family Farm. This program honors family farms that have been maintained for at least 100 years of continuous ownership, and recognizes these pioneers as the original stewards of the land in preserving environmental resources, and for helping foster the state’s agricultural industry.
George C. Owens Farm has become one of the most renowned silvopasture operations in the Southeastern United States. Silvopasture combines timber and livestock forage production on the same acres. The trees are managed for high-value saw logs and at the same time provide shade, shelter, and forage for livestock, reducing stress and increasing forage production. This is an intentional, integrated and intensively managed system designed to optimize timber, forage and livestock production from the same acreage, at the same time.
Silvopastoral systems offer distinct economic and environmental benefits. Among the most important is the potential for annual revenue, and therefore improved cash flow compared to what can be expected from timber production alone. Other advantages from the timber management perspective include: vegetation control under tree canopies by grazing, and increased tree growth as a by-product of forage fertilization and animal waste recycling.
Silvopastures provide benefits to livestock management as well. There is a longer grazing period compared to open pasture due to earlier green-up and delayed forage maturity under tree canopies. Trees offer shelter to livestock from heat and inclement weather.
Florida Land Steward Partners strive to assist landowners in achieving their forest, wildlife and agricultural goals for their properties. George C. Owens Farm demonstrates that environmental and economic sustainability walk hand in hand in good stewardship. Join us for a tour of the property on March 14, 2018: https://fsp-tour031418.eventbrite.com
START 2018 WITH A PLAN REVIEW
The start of the year is a good time to dust off your management plan and give it a review. As you review:
- Make notes on the activities you did in 2017. Include information like the date completed, description of what was done and where, and any permits, contracts or other paperwork.
- Update your activity schedule if you had to postpone any tasks. Include notes on the reason for the delay and the updated timeline for completion.
- Record changes in the condition of your land. For example, was your land impacted by storms, floods, fires, etc.? Document where the damage occurred and any follow up tasks associated with that damage.
Find your County Property Appraiser at: http://floridarevenue.com/property/Pages/LocalOfficials.aspx
If you already have Greenbelt your County Appraiser will send a letter regarding renewal for the year.
See our short Greenbelt video.
2018 FLORIDA LAND STEWARD CALENDARS AVAILABLE
The annual Florida Land Steward wall calendar features beautiful photography, habitat management tips, landowner and management highlights, resource contacts and more. First come, first serve to Florida Forest Stewards, Tree Farmers, other interested landowners. Request yours by sending an email to Chris Demers, firstname.lastname@example.org, with your mailing address. We'll have them available at events this winter and spring as well.
TAX TIPS FOR FOREST LANDOWNERS FOR THE 2017 TAX YEAR
Specific federal income tax laws and rules apply to timber related income and expenses. Dr. Linda Wang's annual tax tips bulletin is intended to assist timber owners, foresters, loggers and their tax preparers in filing the 2017 tax returns. This bulletin, information on timber casualty loss from storm damage, and more is available at https://timbertax.org/
2018 AG LAND CONSERVATION EASEMENT SIGNUP
Application Deadline is Feb. 16, 2018
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides financial and technical assistance to conserve working lands and wetlands through two programs: Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE). Although applications are accepted on a continuous basis, funding selections are typically made once a year.
Agricultural landowners and Indian tribes can apply for a Wetland Reserve Easement to restore wetlands, protect wildlife habitat and recharge groundwater on their property. Eligible landowners can enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement.
NRCS provides financial assistance to conservation partners for purchasing an Agricultural Land Easement that protects the agricultural use of cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland. Applications are available online. For wetland easements, contact Crenel Francis, (352) 338-9508 for questions and submissions. Contact Nina Bhattacharyya, (352) 338-9554 for questions and submissions about agricultural land easements.
NEW PARTNERSHIP FOR CERTIFICATION AND HABITAT RESTORATION
The American Forest Foundation (AFF) and Enviva LP have announced a multi-year partnership to help private forest landowners across the Florida panhandle certify that their forests are sustainably managed and to restore longleaf pine forests to improve wildlife habitat.
The partnership, which will also include The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and other partners, will focus its efforts across 16 counties in the Florida panhandle, with a special focus in the area surrounding Cottondale, FL.. More information here:
REPORT QUAIL AND OTHER WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS
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:
- 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:
ONGOING SERVICES, INITIATIVES, PROGRAMS:
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
AIR POTATO PATROL CITIZEN SCIENCE PROJECT
A new on-line Citizen Science project is looking for volunteers at https://airpotatobeetle.com/. This collaborative project between University of Florida IFAS Extension and Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services seeks to educate residents on how to identify and better control air potato vines, and to gather data important to current research and air potato leaf beetle tracking. The website contains educational videos and a blog to educate the participants and keep them updated. Volunteers will be asked to complete surveys to evaluate the level of air potato infestation and the presence of the air potato beetles in their test plots. For more information please visit the website or contact William Lester, UF/IFAS Extension, at email@example.com.
SOMETHING BUGGING YOUR TREES? - CHECK OUT THE FOREST HEALTH 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 you 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:
http://sfrc.ufl.edu/forest_stewardshipGOT 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:
REGION EXTENSION FORESTRY
See http://sref.info/ for the latest news, tools and offer