Friday, January 10, 2020

FLORIDA LAND STEWARD UPDATE 1/10/20


CONGRATULATIONS ROBERT JENKINS: 2020 FLORIDA LAND STEWARD OF THE YEAR
Mr. Robert Jenkins, owner and manager of Jenkins Millview Trace, is the 2020 Land Steward of the Year. A lifelong land steward since his time in the Boy Scouts and hunting in his youth, Robert Jenkins has made great strides in the restoration of his family's forest property now located in the wildland-urban interface of Escambia County. As an outdoorsman and a founder of the local chapter of Quail Unlimited, he gained much knowledge and appreciation for upland pine habitat and all its components, especially longleaf pine. The property had been burned regularly to maintain access for turpentine collection from the 1930s to 60s. After that industry shut down, the existing longleaf pine was harvested, burning stopped, and the property was naturally regenerated in slash pine. When wildfires raged in the late 1990s on the west side of Escambia County, Bob realized his slash pine stand in Millview was at risk for a devastating fire due to years of fuel buildup from pine straw and underbrush overgrowth. Of equal concern were the subdivisions that had been built surrounding his property and the risk of what a fire on his property would do to these homes. He decided to take action.

Working with a local consulting forester, he is restoring the property from a dangerous build-up of shrubs and hardwoods with limited habitat value to a productive longleaf pine forest maintained with periodic prescribed fire. Bob is also controlling invasive species like cogongrass and Chinese tallowtree, and has invited the public to the property to learn about the benefits of longleaf pine and active forest management. Mr. Jenkins will host a tour of the property on May 15. 2020. Details and registration will be posted on the Florida Land Steward calendar of events. Learn more about Robert Jenkins and Jenkins Millview Trace here.


USDA OPENS CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM GENERAL SIGNUP
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is now open through February 28, 2020. This is the first general enrollment since 2016. Due to expiring contracts and a 5 million acre increase in the 2018 Farm Bill (from 22 million acres to 27 million acres), there is an opportunity to enroll about 7 million acres in the program during this 2020 signup. Originally intended to help control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production, CRP has become one of the largest private lands conservation programs in the country. See the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) site for more information about the signups and benefits.

To enroll in CRP, contact your local USDA FSA county office or visit fsa.usda.gov/crp. Find your local office with the USDA Service Center Finder.


HURRICANE RECOVERY UPDATE
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Florida Farm Service Agency State Committee authorized an extension to the USDA Farm Service Agency’s Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) late filing period. This will allow timber producers impacted by Hurricane Michael to apply for assistance under EFRP if the application is received by the new deadline of April 30, 2020. Find your USDA Service Center here.


2020 FLORIDA LAND STEWARD WALL CALENDARS
Get your 2020 Florida Land Steward calendar 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 your calendar by sending an email to cdemers@ufl.edu  with your mailing address.

YOU CAN HELP us to report impacts and continue this wall 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


$380 MILLION IN BLOCK GRANTS FOR TIMBER RECOVERY APPROVED
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has allocated $380.7 million in federal block grant funding for Florida farmers devastated by Hurricane Michael, including direct relief for timber producers. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will administer the USDA block grants alongside the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

The funds will compensate timber producers for lost value of their crops damaged by Hurricane Michael, helping them clear downed trees and replant. About $10 million of the funding will also help agricultural producers repair and replace irrigation infrastructure damage from Hurricane Michael. The application process for timber producers to receive the grant funding will be finalized in the next several weeks. More on this from FDACS


FUNDING AVAILABLE TO COVER CONSULTANT FOREST STEWARDSHIP MANAGEMENT PLAN PREPARATION
The Florida Forest Service has received funding to help cover the costs for private natural resource consultants to write Forest Stewardship plans covering hurricane resiliency and/or longleaf pine management. Eligible Stewardship plans must include information and recommendations related to: forest resilience and recovery following hurricanes, forest and landowner preparedness for hurricanes, and/or resources available to assist private forest landowners following hurricanes and/or longleaf pine establishment, restoration, improvement, and management for landowners with longleaf stands or those who want to establish longleaf pine on appropriate sites.

Compensation rates and additional information are provided in the Forest Stewardship Program Consultant Plan Preparation Agreement available at: https://forms.freshfromflorida.com/11268.pdf. This form also serves as the application for reimbursement. All applications that meet requirements as described above will be considered in the order in which they are received. Please contact Jennifer Tucker-Jenks at Jennifer.Tucker-Jenks@FreshFromFlorida.com or your county forester for more information. Find your county forester at https://www.freshfromflorida.com/CountyForester


PRESCRIBED BURN ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE FROM ATTACK-ONE FIRE MANAGEMENT SERVICES, TALL TIMBERS RESEARCH STATION, AND ALACHUA CONSERVATION TRUST
These organizations are available to meet onsite with landowners to discuss their goals and assist with prescribed burn prescription and implementation.

Attack-One Fire Management Services is grant-funded to assist landowners with current NRCS contracts with prescribed fire planning and implementation throughout Florida and Georgia. We can also assist landowners who have former NRCS contracts with prescribed fire consultation, planning and implementation with active Gopher Tortoise habitat present. For more information email Kevin Carter, kevin@attack-one.com or John McGuire, jmcguire@attack-one.com or call (850) 926-6534

Tall Timbers Research Station is now funded by a Longleaf Legacy Landscape project to provide fire consultation, planning, and implementation to private landowners in the Florida Panhandle from Pensacola to Lake City and in west Georgia as far north as the Chattahoochee Fall Line (Columbus, GA). Contact Jeremiah Cates, jcates@talltimbers.org, (850) 381-8707

Alachua Conservation Trust has a prescribed fire specialist available to assist private landowners with burn planning in Alachua, Putnam, Marion, Levy, Bradford, Clay and portions of Flagler, Volusia, Lake, Sumter, and Citrus Counties. Contact Barry Coulliette at act.barryc@gmail.com

FLORIDA LAND STEWARD PARTNERS WEB MAP TOOL
Use this web tool to identify resources at a local watershed scale. The map is at this link: http://viewer.apps.pflcc.databasin.org/v1/index.html. More about this effort and how to use the tool here.




ONGOING INITIATIVES / SERVICES / OPPORTUNTIES
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FLORIDA LAND STEWARD PARTNERS WEB MAP TOOL
Use this web tool to identify resources and assistance at a local watershed scale. The map is at this link: http://viewer.apps.pflcc.databasin.org/v1/index.html.



REPORT BOBWHITE 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:

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.