DEP’S Master Deadhead Logging Certification Course Aids Florida’s Underwater Loggers in Protecting the Environment

DEP News Release:

Tallahassee - The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Northwest District Office today hosted the first in a series of statewide classes for current and prospective deadhead loggers in Tallahassee. These classes, which are offered at no-cost, provide an accessible forum in which attendees can easily obtain information about Department rules, project requirements and expectations as well as the permitting process associated with the DEP’s Submerged Lands and Environmental Resource Permitting (SLERP) Program.

The SLERP Program regulates activities in wetlands and waters of the state, such as construction, dredging, filling and the removal of pre-cut submerged timbers. These historic timbers are remnants of the state’s early logging industry.

From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, armed with only an ax or cross-cut saw, loggers would clear-cut the longleaf pine forests and harvest the state’s giant cypress. These ancient logs were then rafted together and floated downriver to nearby sawmills. Some of these cut timbers sunk while in transit and were lost to river bottoms where they were preserved by the cool water and lack of oxygen. Modern day craftsman highly regard the wood that is milled from these pre-cut submerged timbers, or deadhead logs, because of their great strength, durability and resistance to rot. Wood from the sunken logs, revered for its tight grain and array of colors ranging from blond to caramel to black, is up to 10 times more valuable than conventional wood.

The State of Florida claims ownership of most of the logs since they are located in sovereign submerged lands. However, logs that were originally branded by those early logging companies may still be claimed and recovered by the original company with authorization through DEP’s issuance of a Dredge and Fill Permit from the SLERP Program. Unbranded logs may be recovered through application and authorization provided through a Dredge and Fill Permit and through a Use Agreement from the Governor and Cabinet serving as the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund.

“Deadhead logs are a limited resource that is prized by a variety of woodworking craftsman,” said DEP Northwest District Director Dick Fancher. “Our objective is to provide environmental information and regulatory assistance so that the deadhead logging community can remove these valuable logs without damaging the surrounding aquatic and estuarine resources.”

The Department believes that educating and assisting the public and the logging community about the deadhead logging program will increase environmental compliance and protection in this important area. These classes will also help interested loggers navigate through the permitting process.

Knowledge they will gain at this class can reduce processing time by minimizing the need for additional information, thus making the permitting process quicker, more effective and efficient, ultimately saving the logger time and money.

Objectives of the class include:

• Providing information on rules, regulations and other useful information specific to deadhead logging activities;

• Improving the level of understanding regarding various environmental issues and historical concerns; and

• Enhancing communications between our office and the logging community.

In addition to the class in Tallahassee, additional classes will be held in Pensacola and Jacksonville. For more information about DEP’s Deadhead Logging Program, and the dates, locations and registration information for the classes, visit: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/WATER/wetlands/erp/deadhead.htm.


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