The Florida Forest Service is offering money incentives to private landowners in exchange for growing and creating a friendly ecosystem for the Long Leaf Pine. Those with non-industrial land of at least five, but no more than 5,000 acres of forest land are eligible.
The program is meant to bolster Longleaf Pine numbers, which the Forest Service says have been devastated by urbanization and conversion of land use. Chief of Forest Management John Sabo says the agency estimates the native species now covers less than four percent of its historical area.
“A lot of that was due to overharvesting, but it was not from industry,” Sabo said. “It was more so just from the development and settlement of Florida – and throughout the Southeast, really.”
The incentive payments are set at a rate by acreage. For instance, establishing container long leaf pine seedlings pay a rate of $100 dollars per 1,000 seedlings. Bare-root seedlings, which can be less costly, pay slightly less than $50 per 1,000 seedlings. The Forest Service will pay for other beneficial actions, like prescribed burning, and payments are capped at $10,000 per participant.
The program is supported through a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant, which is funded by a mix of government agencies, nonprofit charities and private companies. Among them are the Halliburton Company, a multi-billion dollar oil industry titan, and utility holding company The Southern Company. Leon, Gadsden, Jefferson, Wakulla, and Bay counties are among the 25 counties eligible.
Application forms, and a breakdown of the payment rate information, can be found on FreshFromFlorida.com.