Southern Pine Beetle outbreaks threaten forests in Wakulla & Franklin counties

As seen in the aerial flights the service conducted, the forest landscape has dramatically...
As seen in the aerial flights the service conducted, the forest landscape has dramatically changed in the span of only 10 days as a result of the Southern Pine Beetle outbreak.(Florida Forest Service)
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 5:14 PM EDT
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WAKULLA COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) - Southern Pine Beetle outbreaks across Franklin and Wakulla counties are threatening the forest land in Florida, the Florida Forest Service says.

According to FFS, Southern Pine Beetles are the biggest threat to forest life and a pine tree will die within six weeks once it’s been infested. As seen in the aerial flights the service conducted, the forest landscape has dramatically changed in the span of only 10 days.

So far this year, a record 21 active outbreaks have been found in Wakulla County and 14 were located in Franklin County, the press release says. The beetle infestations can occur in urban or rural areas and can spread over 50 feet a day. The only way to stop the infestations is to cut down the trees, FFS says.

FFS has forest management practices in place to improve the forest life and avoid the beetle infestations, but there is no treatment available to save infested pine trees, and once an infestation occurs, they must cut down a large buffer of trees surrounding the area to avoid spreading further.

The infestations are not only a threat to the forest life, but also to the wildlife habitat and can lead to catastrophic wildfires in the long run.

For further information on the Southern Pine Beetle, contact your local county forester, which can be found on the Florida Forest Service webpage here.

For information about the Southern Pine Beetle and current infestation activity in Franklin and Wakulla Counties, contact Emily Martin at Emily.Martin@FDACS.gov, or call 850-597-6572.

The service recommends calling your county forester for the following:

  • Community Forest designation
  • Disease/pest problems
  • Tree identification
  • City/county ordinance information
  • Advice on pruning, tree removal and fertilization
  • Urban forestry consultant list
  • Landscape business list
  • Tree removal business list
  • Material/equipment vendor list
  • Upcoming educational workshops

An owner of at least 10 forested acres can receive:

  • Current timber market information
  • Information on federal cost-share programs
  • Area burning regulations
  • Prescribed fire management plan
  • Forest management plan
  • Forest Consultant List
  • Tree planting contractor list
  • Timber buyer list
  • Master logger list
  • Best Management Practices

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