Thursday, February 6, 2020

FLORIDA LAND STEWARD UPDATE 2/7/20


TAX TIPS FOR FOREST LANDOWNERS FOR THE 2019 TAX YEAR
The Federal income tax laws contain forestry-specific provisions that are important for those managing and conserving timber. This publication provides forest owners, foresters, loggers, and timber businesses a guide to the applicable Federal income tax laws, including the latest tax law changes, for filing 2019 tax returns. The information is not intended to render legal or accounting advice and is current as of September 30, 2019. Access the 2019 timber tax tips and more related information at https://www.timbertax.org/



USDA NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE (NRCS) ANNOUNCES EQIP ASSISTANCE TO HELP FARMERS, RANCHERS, FOREST OWNERS CONSERVE NATURAL RESOURCES
Florida farmers, ranchers and forest owners can apply until March 6 for financial and technical assistance from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for fiscal year 2020 funding. Although applications are accepted on a continuous basis for all programs, funding selections are typically made once a year. Through EQIP, agricultural landowners may receive financial and technical assistance to improve soil, water, air, plants, animals and related resources. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, private non-industrial forestland and other farm or ranch lands. The application deadline also applies to the following EQIP-funded initiatives: Organic Producer Initiative, Seasonal High Tunnels, On-farm Energy Initiative, Longleaf Pine Initiative, and Working Lands for Wildlife


Visit your local NRCS field office to learn more.



2020 AG LAND CONSERVATION EASEMENT SIGNUP ANNOUNCED
Applications to fund agricultural easements in Florida are now being accepted until March 6. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides financial and technical assistance to conserve working lands and wetlands through two programs: Agricultural Land Easements and Wetland Reserve Easements. 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 to purchase an Agricultural Land Easement that protects the agricultural use of cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland.


Contact Crenel Francis at 352-338-9508 for questions and submissions.



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.



PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD OPEN FOR AMERICAN TREE FARM SYSTEM CERTIFICATION STANDARDS The American Tree Farm System (ATFS), a program of the American Forest Foundation (AFF), launched a 60-day public comment period on AFF’s current Standards of Sustainability for Forest Certification. The Standards are the benchmark for all ATFS forest certification, which are third party audited. During this first of 2 public comment periods in 2020, interested members of the public are invited to participate in the public comment period January 2 through March 2, 2020, by submitting comments and suggestions here: http://www.tfaforms.com/330231


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.


ANY INTEREST IN A NATURE-FOCUSED PODCAST FROM UF/IFAS EXTENSION?
Two UF/IFAS Extension Agents are considering starting a nature-focused podcast and want to know your thoughts on this idea. They have created a very short survey to help them determine interest. Please consider providing them with your feedback.

You can do so anonymously through this link through the end of February: https://ufl.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3EoqzuMCSJAR0Lb -Thank you!



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. He has made great strides and continues working hard to restore his family’s Escambia County property to a productive longleaf pine forest maintained with periodic prescribed fire. Bob is also controlling invasive species like cogongrass and Chinese tallowtree, and has hosted public events where he shares 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 in these updates as they are available. Learn more about Robert Jenkins and Jenkins Millview Trace 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


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.

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