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Posted on: August 24, 2022

SRWMD timber harvesting operations a sign of preservation activities

Marked trees for timber harvesting on the Steinhatchee Springs tract

LIVE OAK, FLA., AUGUST 24, 2022 – You may find it surprising, but timber harvesting is one of the best ways to preserve the health of local forests, along with other management activities. If implemented correctly, harvesting can encourage tree seedling regeneration and enhance the long-term health and sustainability of the natural forest community.  

The Suwannee River Water Management District (District) is currently conducting a timber harvest on its Steinhatchee Springs Tract in Lafayette County. The project, which involves timber harvesting on approximately 300 acres of District-owned property, began in June and is scheduled for completion next month.  

This is one of several timber harvests the District schedules annually on its approximately 50,000 acres of upland timber land in Northeast Florida. The District averages 10-12 harvests each year, with the goal to restore forest ecosystems to the way they looked centuries ago, prior to industrial overplanting for commercial production.  

Dense timber can often become unhealthy due to increased competition for space, water, sunlight, and vital nutrients. The more trees in an area, the more competition there is for those resources. Harvest operations are typically conducted as a tree thinning, when a select number of trees are taken, or a clear-cut, when all the merchantable trees are taken. Thinning involves keeping the best trees and removing the ones with declining health that aren’t viable for future growth.  

Thinning these areas allows the remaining trees – typically the healthiest of them – to have better access to those resources and space, allowing them to flourish and help sustain a healthy ecosystem. Clear cut operations are often conducted if trees become diseased or an unnatural tree species was planted which needs to be removed to allow the natural community to rejuvenate. 

Revenue from these timber harvests goes directly into the District’s land management program to be used for conservation efforts throughout the Suwannee Valley. This helps further the goals of the District and provides additional funding for projects that will benefit District lands and our area.  

The District acquires land for the purpose of resource protection and are managed under a policy that emphasizes water resource protection, maintenance, and restoration of the land’s natural state and condition. Currently, the District owns approximately 160,000 acres and holds conservation easement for more than 127,000 acres.  

The vast majority of these lands are open for recreation.  

The mission of the Suwannee River Water Management District is to protect and manage water resources using science-based solutions to support natural systems and the needs of the public. The District holds true to the belief of water for nature, water for people. Headquartered in Live Oak, Florida, the District serves 15 surrounding north-central Florida counties. 

For more information about the District, visit www.MySuwanneeRiver.com or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, search @SRWMD. 

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