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Summer 2002 Volume 7, Issue 2 (0.3Mb)

A Long, Hot Summer

Drought,  Drought,  Go  Away! Dryweather throughout much of the spring continuesto aggravate several problems in the southeasternforests. Spring rains are critical for newly plantedtrees of all species. Lack of rain, particularly ondryer sites, may mean low survival rates. Pinebeetle outbreaks have worsened because ofdrought-stressed trees. Excellent logging conditionsand a lower demand for pulp and paper haveallowed pulp mills to keep supplies of raw materialreadily available. Abundant supplies and lowdemands continue to push pulpwood prices downward.A bright spot for timberland owners continuesto be the pine and hardwood sawtimbermarkets. According to government figures, Mayhousing starts were 11.6% above those of Apriland were 6.6% above those of May 2001. Thelow cost of borrowing money continues to helpdrive the housing market.  President  Bush  Signs  New  Farm  Bill:  On May 13th, President Bush signed the Agriculture,Conservation and Rural Enhancement Act of2002 into law. A forestry title buried in the FarmBill provides significant improvements in the deliveryof the federal government's technical andfinancial assistance to the nation's non-industrialprivate forest landowners. Included in the forestrytitle is the new Forest Land Enhancement Program(FLEP). This program is established "to encouragethe long-term sustainability of non-industrialprivate forestlands (NIPF) in the United States."Mandatory funding of the new program is$100 million over 6 years, which is a vast increaseover the chronically under funded forestry incen-A Long, Hot Summer.tives program (FIP) and the stewardship incentivesprogram (SIP). Qualifying landowners will be eligiblefor a wide range of forestry practices for timberproduction and conservation purposes. Stateforesters and state forest stewardship committeeswill develop eligible practices for each state.The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)was due to expire in 2002. The program is extendedto 2007 and the cap on enrollment acreageincreased from 36.4 to 39.2 million. CRP has resultedin the planting of more than 2 million acresof erodible cropland and other eligible lands in thesouth. A new sign-up could come as early as thisfall.The enhanced community fire protectionprogram requires the Secretary of Agriculture tocooperate with state foresters and equivalent officialsto control and prevent wildfires, protect communities,enhance the growth and maintenance oftrees and forests and ensure continued productionof forest resources.The community and private land fire assistanceprogram allocates $35 million annually tocarry out certain fire management and protectionactivities on both federal and non-federal lands.The Environmental Quality Incentives Program(EQUIP), which has been a soil and water conservationprogram primarily for farmers and livestockproducers was amended to include private, nonindustrialforest lands for participation. While notspecific, the language of the law appears broadenough to make such activities as tree planting aneligible conservation practice under certain circumstances.