National AP News | WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Ga. Tree Farmers Worry About Drought and Bugs in Aftermath of Wildfires

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) _ South Georgia farmers preparing to replant
more than 400-thousand acres of forestland burned in this year's
wildfires are worried about prolonged drought and insect
infestations.

Wood-boring beetles and other insects are attacking
fire-weakened trees, and foresters warn that dry conditions could
herald another round of vicious fires in the spring, foresters said.

Frank Sorrells said, ``We still have a lot of forest that can burn.''

Southeast Georgia boasts about 5 million acres of forestland
through 15 counties. But more than 8 percent of the land was burned
during the spring wildfires.

And although the area has benefited from more rain than other
parts of the state, it is still mired in drought -- and winter
rains might not be enough to dampen fire danger.

Sorrells said,``We're seeing the same sort of
weather patterns setting up to make it another bad fire season.''

Rangers are urging homeowners to check weather conditions before
they set fire to anything. And they are asking residents to reduce
fire fuels such as underbrush, fallen limbs and leaves.

Despite the challenges, few farmers are throwing in the towel.

Fourth-generation tree farmer Joe Hopkins says he plans to start
replanting next month.

``We're going to stay in there until the return is just not feasible to do it anymore,'' Hopkins said.


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