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October 16, 2008   Email to Friend 

ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE TO PREVENT PINE BEETLE DAMAGE
Elishia Ballentine
(334) 240-9355
October 16, 2008

The Southern Pine Beetle is No. 1 killer of pines in Alabama.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Financial incentives are available for a limited time to help forest landowners in Alabama protect pine forests from Southern Pine Beetle attacks.

In the short term, these incentives are designed to offset some of the costs of Southern pine beetle (SPB) prevention measures. The long-term goal is to reduce the susceptibility of Alabama forests to future SPB outbreaks. Federal funds from the USDA Forest Service, administered by the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC), will be awarded to qualified private landowners. The deadline to apply for this program is Nov. 21.

The Southern Pine Beetle is the No. 1 killer of pines in Alabama. Unmanaged and overcrowded stands of loblolly and shortleaf pines are susceptible to attack. Epidemic populations of this bark beetle occur virtually every year in Alabama. Expanding populations, if not controlled, may devastate entire forests causing millions of dollars in damage.

Thinning of dense, slow-growing pine stands will stimulate growth and vigor in young stands and reduce the SPB hazard. To qualify for federal funds, your pine stand must have an SPB hazard rating from medium to very high, as determined by an AFC forester.

Written approval must be received from the Alabama Forestry Commission before beginning a thinning practice, and certain program guidelines must be met when implementing the thinning activities. Landowners who own less than 60 acres of land, have not participated in cost share programs in the last 10 years, and whose timber has a very high SPB Hazard Rating on their timber will receive priority ranking.

Thinning practices and other requirements for these incentive funds are:

-- Non-commercial thinning in young stands with greater than 500 stems per acre (timber that is too small to be sold commercially).

-- SPB thinning in stands with a minimum of 100 SPB Hazard Rating score.

-- Must be the first thinning on existing loblolly or shortleaf pine stands at least 10 acres in size.

-- Incentive costs will be reimbursed to the landowner at the rate of $50/acre for thinning and $20/acre for Borax application, not to exceed a maximum of $5,000 per landowner per year.

To apply for funding, contact your county Alabama Forestry Commission office. If you are unsure of your local office's address or phone number, look on the Commission Web site at www.forestry.alabama.gov and select the county where your property is located to access the AFC office information. Alternatively, you may contact the state Landowner Assistance Forester, Arthur Hitt, at (334) 240-9323.

The SPB Prevention Application form must be completed and turned in by Nov. 21. Applicants will receive notice of acceptance or rejection by Dec. 22, along with further program guidelines.


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