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Florida Christmas Trees Support Damaged Timber Industry

Blaise Gainey

With Thanksgiving in the past people are now focusing on Christmas season and what better way than to pick out your Christmas tree from one of more than 100 Christmas tree farms in Florida. Sticking with tradition this morning Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam presented a Christmas tree to the Governor and cabinet members.

“About 16 thousand trees are purchased from Florida tree farms, and these trees are Hurricane Michael survivors,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

The tree presented today came from the Bavarian Christmas Tree Farm owned by Franco and Sigrid Camacho. He says although Hurricane Michael did some damage hundreds of their trees are still standing.

“They hurt, they hurt but we straighten everything up,” Franco Camacho said.

But as Commissioner Putnam explains that’s not the case for all tree farmers.

“There’s still opportunities to help our fellow Floridians in the panhandle with housing needs as well as the less important but important timber issues that are out there,” Putnam said.

Timber is a major industry in many of the areas hit by Hurricane Michael. One of the strongest storms to hit the panhandle caused an estimated more than $1.2 billion in damages.

“To put it in perspective we estimate there is roughly an equivalent of 2 and a half million truck loads laying on the ground. Could be as much as a 20 year of supply of wood laying there,” Putnam said.

And Putnam explained that the longer the wood lays there the greater the problem becomes.

“If they don’t get that land cleaned up and replanted then you’ve really got a long term economic crisis in these rural counties. Because if the mills don’t believe there is a wood basket that is going to supply their investment then they are going to shut down,” Putnam said.

Putnam says now the plan is to get the timber to market before the bugs ruin it.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.