Funds available for forest thinning through Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program
Texas A&M Forest Service is accepting applications for the 2016 Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program. Through this cost-share program eligible forest landowners can receive financial and technical assistance related to reducing the threat of future SPB infestations and outbreaks.
Funds provided by USDA Forest Service-Region 8 and Forest Health Protection can assist landowners with conducting first thin operations in overly dense, pulpwood size pine stands in 23 East Texas counties.
“First thin refers to the first time we enter a planted stand to mechanically remove less desirable trees, leaving the better quality trees. Typically in planted pine stands we do this somewhere between age 10 and 14 depending on tree growth,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Staff Forester Shane Harrington.
This first removal results in pulpwood size trees — small diameter trees that are mainly used in manufacturing pulp for paper products — being taken out.
“Our goal through this program is to reduce the potential for southern pine beetle attacks on our forests while increasing tree growth and vigor,” Harrington, said.
Thinning minimizes the chances of trees becoming diseased or attacked by insects especially during times of drought or other extreme weather conditions, and promotes tree vigor and health by providing more room for remaining trees to grow, creating less competition for available nutrients and water.
Since the inception of the SPB Prevention Program in 2003, over 100,000 acres have been treated throughout East Texas. Texas’ last SPB outbreak was in 1993 when approximately 12,000 acres were impacted resulting in lost timber and lost economic activity and value. By proactively managing forest stands, landowners play a key role in decreasing the threat of SPB as well as other insect and disease outbreaks.
“This program has a successful history of assisting forest landowners in reducing the potential for their property to host future southern pine beetle attacks as well as increase overall forest health and resiliency which is what sound forest management is about,” Harrington said.
Eligible landowners may receive up to $50 per acre (100 acre maximum) to conduct first thin operations. The forested property must meet several criteria and be located within one of the 23 priority counties which include: Angelina, Cass, Cherokee, Hardin, Harris, Harrison, Houston, Jasper, Liberty, Marion, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Newton, Panola, Polk, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity, Tyler and Walker.
Applications are due by June 20. For an application, additional program criteria and requirements, interested landowners can go tohttp://tfsweb.tamu.edu/SPB or contact their local Texas A&M Forest Service office at http://tfsweb.tamu.edu/contactus.